This week we will look at two slogans together – Three Objects, Three Poisons and Three Seeds of Virtue and In All Activities, Train with Slogans. These two slogans represent one of the main reasons I love Buddhism. Everything about this practice points to finding the truth for oneself. We can listen to Dharma talks, read books, follow meditation instructions and talk over our difficulties with a teacher; none of which will liberate the mind. Freeing the mind requires a willingness to turn the practice, our insights and our understanding towards oneself. The Dharma works in the application not in the learning.
In the first slogan, the 3 objects are friends, enemies and neural persons; the 3 poisons are passion, aggression and delusion (or ignorance); and the 3 seeds of virtue are the absence of passion, aggression and delusion. When you initially consider these it may seem like this practice forces us to strip ourselves of all the goodness and power of life (given that virtue is pointed to the absence of passion, aggression and delusion). I believe, however, this slogan points towards seeing with wisdom. The labels we put on people, places and things is what makes something a friend or enemy or unworthy of any attention. It is not about getting rid of the label but rather recognizing that the labels come from our own minds not the object. Likewise, with our passions, aggressions and places of delusion. Until we are willing to see our part in these forces of nature, we will be slaves to their reactivity. When we can see our part, we will still have passion or aggression but we will also have the wisdom not to be pushed away from our values by it. We can find a way to live in relationship with the objects through the seeds of virtue.
The second slogan reminds us to view all experiences as an opportunity to practice. The more we see life as practice, the more capacity we generate to deal with anything that arises. Thus, we you find yourself stuck in some aggressive state you can first look at the labels and judgments you are bringing to the table. When you are able to remove your mental add-ons, you can deal with the situation from a place of wisdom. I believe wisdom is far more powerful than aggression. What do you think?
We’ll explore this together on Thursday. Until then…