Tomorrow night we will return to our discussion around the defilements. I must be honest, I cannot turn completely away from the election but I am willing to turn inward for answers. Over my years of practice, I have found that the best way for me to understand the actions and behaviors of another is to find the capacity within myself and turn my inquiry there. I looked over our list and found four defilements that stand out in this election for me. The words are intolerance, pride, stubbornness and dominance.
When I looked up these words in the dictionary I found they all relate to an exertion of power. Intolerance is defined as not willing to allow or accept something or someone; a stubborn adherence to one’s opinion. Pride is defined as a feeling that you deserve to be respected by others; a feeling that you are more important or better than other people. Stubbornness is defined as unreasonably or perversely unyielding; difficult to deal with and dominance is defined as controlling power or influence over others; being above others in rank or importance. All four words seem to point to one side of power. The pleasurable, self-righteous side. There is another side to this type of power. The unpleasant; harmful side of its effects on others. When we exert power through intolerance, pride, stubbornness and dominance there will be suffering.
Suffering, however, is not inherent in the exertion of power but rather in the manner. For instance, questioning is a word related to intolerance; dignity is a word related to pride; resolved is a word related to stubbornness and precept is a word related to dominance. These words seem to come from a place of inner strength and power. They are the exertion of power from within rather than without. Tomorrow I’d like to talk about how we can find connection with our internal sense of power. I know the above four defilements inside and out. I would much rather live in a world of questioning, dignity, resolve and our 5 precepts. Tomorrow night we’ll talk about the journey between the two worlds and why we get stuck in one and find liberation in the other.