I don’t know why but my mind is ablaze today with Tilopa’s quotes. That one above, “Samsara is to see faults in others” is a beautifully condensed teaching, and one that is very reliable. It’s easy to keep in your mind and it acts as a beautiful reminder when you begin to be caught up in an emotional reaction to something someone has done to you.
For me, anger is one of the most powerful and destructive emotions that still has a strong grip on me. Of course, I have all the others in full measure, but anger is so reliable in causing harm to myself and others- it’s really good at doing damage, and it still can sometimes trick me into believing that it is justified. That I am justified in releasing my anger onto someone else- usually someone close to me, usually someone that I love and care for deeply. I think I’m being treated badly, and I feel hurt and angry, and so I think it’s okay for me to lash out, to spill this venom onto them so that they will stop causing me harm.
It used to be that I thought this way with total conviction, with absolute certainty- and this is a very harmful way to proceed. I became expert at this approach and used it to harm my loved ones deeply and repeatedly. Thanks to the teachings and to some practice, I have shifted my approach quite a bit. I know now that anger is very harmful to myself and others, and, more importantly, I understand that anger arises out of ignorance, out of wrong view, and that it is something to alert me to the fact that I’m in error. If I’m mad at you, it’s because I’ve misunderstood something about reality. This makes it easier to let go of the anger, to let go, importantly, of the sense that I’m justified in feeling angry, that there’s a really good reason outside of me for feeling this emotion.
Of course, sometimes I ignore this warning and plunge ahead anyway, and do the damage. Only afterwards do I realize that I was totally wrong. It doesn’t mean that I was totally wrong about the facts, not that, really, but that I was totally wrong about assigning blame and virtue to any of the roles. And that’s what Tilopa is getting at when he says that Samsara is to see faults in others. As long as I look to you as the source of my suffering and discomfort, I’m never going to do the work that’s really necessary to stop my suffering. I need to tend to the state of my own mind, my own ego clinging, my own confusion and error, because until I learn to see correctly I’ll have no idea what’s really occurring in the present moment. I’ll still be caught up in the confusion and distortions caused by my way of seeing things outside of me as somehow containing the source of my suffering.
This is really good news. After all, it’s not so easy to change someone else. They may not think they need to change, and they may not share your enthusiasm for that change. They may not be as motivated to change themselves as you are for them to change. This approach is unlikely to be successful.
But there can be some possibility to change yourself. This is more likely to have a good outcome. After all, you are the one suffering, you are the one experiencing the negative results of your thoughts and actions, and you are the one who really wants to change.
It really can work.
Here’s another one from Tilopa, one of his most well known. It’s called Tilopa’s six words of advice, a teaching he gave his primary student, Naropa.
“Let go of what has passed.
Let go of what may come.
Let go of what is happening now.
Don’t try to figure anything out.
Don’t try to make anything happen.
Relax, right now, and rest.”
I’d like to apologize to my wife, to my mother, to my daughter, to everyone in my family who has suffered as a result of my anger. I know that I have harmed you, have frightened you, have seared and damaged you with my rage. Know that I understand that you were never to blame for this, that the fault is mine alone. Through my ignorance and confusion, I believed that you were the enemy and I lashed out at you.
Please accept my apology and heartfelt regrets.
I pledge to not harm you with my anger again.
To you army of strangers who have been on the receiving end of my anger and rage, I am truly sorry and I vow to refrain from harming you with my anger from this moment on.
One of the nice side effects of looking within for the source of suffering is that there is the possibility of witnessing a change in the outer world. For me, the world used to be populated almost entirely with assholes and idiots- rare indeed was the human soul I considered worthy of my love and affection.
Now that I take the view that anything that causes suffering to arise comes from inside me, comes from my mind, and that this is true for everyone else as well, the world seems populated by people who are worthy of my love and affection, people who are suffering as I suffer, who are confused as I am confused, and who seek happiness as I seek happiness.
And in this way I begin to leave samsara behind.
Namaste, you beautiful people!