The Open Dimension

Commentary on social issues; politics; religion and spirituality

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Location: Laguna Hills, California, United States

I am a semi-retired psychotherapist/psychiatric social worker and certified hypnotherapist. Originally a practicing attorney, I changed careers during the 1980's. My interests include history, constitutional law, Hindustani classical music, yoga, meditation and spirituality.

Monday, January 07, 2013

The Times They're Not A' Changin'

H.H. The Dalai Lama comments here on a work by the contemplative scholar, Shantideva, who wrote during the eighth century A.D. Unfortunately the commentary appears to be eminently relevant to our own times:

" Driven by disturbing troubles and disappointments, they cut and stab one another and thus eke out an existence in great hardship by means of evil deeds... People who do not realize ( spiritual truth ) are enraged by sources of conflict and delighted by sources of joy. When their desires are not met, they experience misery; and to avoid that they exert themselves, argue with one another, and cut and stab each other. By  such various evil deeds they make a living in great hardship... Due to attachment and hostility, there is little joy but great hardship... Most people wander in miserable states of existence. Even when in a fortunate state of existence, they do not investigate the root of the cycle of existence or meditate on ( spiritual truth ) ; and as a result they descend again to miserable destinations. There they experience protracted, violent suffering... There are many abodes of suffering, and in the many abysses of the cycle of existence there is ignorance of the nature of reality. Thus, one is bound to this cycle by the fetters of craving...

There are boundless oceans of incomparable, violent suffering. Thus, there is feebleness and short lifespan... One has little ability to engage in wholesome activity... They seek long life and health by means of their occupations, with hunger, exhaustion, weariness, sleep and calamities, and with meaningless association with childish people... Thus, life passes by swiftly and in vain, with very little opportunity for discrimination ( between good and bad )... Where is there a way to prevent habitual distraction?... And due to a multitude of false paths, doubt is difficult to overcome...

People let their time pass in distractions, and the wisdom of investigating the nature of phenomena is exceedingly rare. Even if there is some modest inclination toward spirituality, due to habituation and distraction, it does not tend to be sustained, nor go very deep. It is difficult to remedy that habituation.

In the world there are a great many false paths that lead to suffering... It is difficult to restrain the flood of mental distortions. Alas, suffering continues uninterruptedly.

Alas for those in intense grief, for those adrift in a flood of suffering, for those in terrible situations who, nonetheless, fail to recognize their own miserable state!

While abiding in limitless suffering, people do not recognize their own state of existence, their own discontent. Rather, they mistake suffering for happiness. They are worthy of our sympathy. Although they dwell in a state of misery, they think they are in a fine condition.

By not seizing upon conventional truths, when might I manifestly demonstrate ( ultimate reality ) to those who have fastened on false views?

A bodhisattva prays that any ability resulting from meditation on ( spiritual truth ) may be used only to bring about the welfare of others."

( From Dalai Lama, H.H. Transcendent Wisdom. Ithaca, New York: Snow Lion Publications, 2009. )