Tammy W: My biggest struggle is with overwhelming emotions and emotional attachments. I am a solo practitioner with no access to a dharma center in the US. I am also fairly new to Tibetan Buddhism so I am struggling with many aspects, but this seems to be the major one. What daily practices can I do to help with this?
Lama Surya Das: This is a huge question, and one of the most important issues we all face in life, whether or not we’re on the spiritual path. No simple answer will do, although too may are availible. Let go and let God? Let go, let be? Acceptance has it’s own transformative magic. See everything as like a dream, a fantasy, echos, mirages, like rainbows in the sky, as it says in Buddhism’s Diamond of Wisdom Sutra. Does this kinda pithy one-liner instruction do it for you, my friend?
First, I think it’s helpful to assess the situation— your precise situation, as you experience and understand it, as you seem to have already begun to do. That’s good!
Then, honestly and conscientously introspect and observe the cost in terms of dissatisfaction and frustration, anxiety, pain and suffering of continuing to be overly entangled by the conflicting emotions and habitual, conditioned states of mind and moods of the heart— called klesha, in Buddhism, or obscuring defilements, which includes mosty if not all the jumbled up stuff of consciousness in connection with outer reality as well as your internal, subjective state. Buddhism talks about being wary of letting yourself contuinue to be blown about by the 8 worldly winds of pleasure and pain, loss and gain, fame and shame, praise and criticism. Through self-awareness and spiritual realization wisdom arises within, and we become masters rather than mere victims of circumstances and conditions. This is spiritual freedom and self-mastery, the realization of autonomy within interdependence.
You might benefit by trying to learn to meditate and practice contemplating these things without attachment and aversion, as they appear in and effect you/your consciousness: seeing as they are and observing them come and go, arise and fall, appear and disappear, along with all other things (phenomena and noumena) in this evanescent world. You could learn and practice on a daily basis the mind clearing-and-calming concentrative serenity meditation (shamatha), or utilize the mantras, prayers and lojong (mind training and spiritual refinement) practices taught at every Tibetan center and in accessible and practical modern Dharma books. (These things, including centers and small sitting groups, are pretty ubiquitous today, so do check around. Also online.) Patience furthers, and effort is also called for on this journey of awakening.
“It is not outer things that entangle us, Naropa, but inner fixations and attachments which entangle us”, as an enlightened master of old once sang. Our inner kleshas— greed, hatred and delusion, pride and jealousy in the Buddhist formulation— must be dealt with, personally and first hand. Freedom and liberation of awakening is an inside job.
Submitted by Tammy W. via Facebook on September 21st.