The Truth of Tanha We are vulnerable to suffering because of the way human nature is constituted Specifically we are a

The Buddha places the ultimate cause of suffering squarely within the individual. It is our cravings that keep us in Dukkha. This is an important shift of emphasis from the external to the more immediate internal cause of suffering. For example, we tend to think that being deprived of food is a cause of suffering. In the Buddhist view, it is the hunger we experience and the craving for food that is the immediate cause of our suffering. Deprivation of food is clearly a critical part of the...

The Nature of Anger

Throughout this book, starting with the presentation of the Four Noble Truths, the emphasis has been on changing oneself. It is summed up in Fig. 25.1, where the passions (ego needs, angers, fears, and desires) are substantially reduced, and where the mind is cleared. Such changes, of course, are a tall order, requiring that we overcome the influences of biology, culture, and upbringing. Several techniques attaining right views, practicing immersion, and so forth were described, but in a rather...

The Eight Angas Part The Practices

The preceding chapter described the mind before any enlightenment takes place. This and the next chapter describe the changes that must occur to bring the mind to the other extreme, to complete enlightenment. As with the Buddhist eight-fold path, in Yoga one also transforms the mind by following a variety of activities. These are collectively called the eight angas, or limbs, of Yoga. While not one-to-one with the Buddhist eight-fold path, the set is very similar. The eight angas divide...

Yogic Theory The Unenlightened Mind

Much of this book thus far can be summarized in what I call the Yogic theory of mind. The theory first describes the mind before enlightenment. It specifies what needs to be done to transform the mind, and then describes the mind after enlightenment. The conception of mind before any enlightenment has taken place is the focus of this chapter. The mind and consequent behavior after enlightenment, after one has transformed oneself, is discussed in the chapters that follow.1 Figure 22.1 portrays...

Yoga and Buddhism

I suggested in chapter 4 that the Buddha was influenced by the philosophical Hinduism that was prevalent in his day. Some of the key concepts in that philosophy were Atman, Dukkha, Karma, and reincarnation. There was also the belief that one's task in life is to purify oneself. In Buddhism, this task became the Third Noble Truth, that we are to transform ourselves, to diminish our cravings. This philosophical Hinduism gave rise to Yoga, a system of thought centered around the same key concepts....

General Methods for Decreasing Anger

We now consider techniques for handling anger. Let us begin with the most general methods suggested by Buddhism and Yoga. The following chapters will deal with more specific techniques for particular situations. 1. Among the general determinants of change, the most important is your own motivation. You must want to change. You must commit yourself whole-heartedly to the task of becoming less irritable and reactive, more light-hearted and imperturbable. 2. Also, you must adopt the orientation,...

The Truth of Dukkha We are vulnerable to a multitude of suffering experiences

Although suffering is the usual translation for Dukkha, the term really has three aspects. First, it characterizes a world in which there is a great deal of unhappiness, ranging from abject pain, loneliness, anxiety, hunger, being with hateful people, and loss of those we love, to unpleasant states of feeling such as anger, disgust, tension, and boredom, to mild discomforts both chronic (e.g., life is meaningless) and occasional (e.g., a headache). We see explosions of Dukkha in the Holocaust,...

The Eight Angas Part The Experiences

The remaining four angas are the Experiences. These four can all be subsumed under the single branch, Right Meditation of the Buddhist eightfold path. In chapter 15 we surveyed different types of meditation. Here the stages or depths of meditation are described. Throughout the entire Yoga section, a central concept has been that of immersion. The concept was introduced in first discussing the postures and was then applied to different life examples (see especially chaps. 19 and 21). Meditation...

Maturity and Serenity

Tibet, a country that was entirely Buddhist, was invaded in 1949 by the Chinese. They then began the forcible conversion of this land into a Marxist state. The Dalai Lama, the country's spiritual leader, and many of the Buddhist monks escaped into exile. Since then, the Dalai Lama has traveled tirelessly trying to persuade the United Nations and various governments to pressure the Chinese into leaving Tibet. In a television interview, a reporter asked the Dalai Lama Aren't you ever angry at the...

Anger Assumptions and Levels of Expression

In this chapter I describe the various levels of anger-expression that we can have. This ranges from the lowest level reflexive and unthinking to total liberation. Before listing these levels, however, I want first to present the assumptions I am making in this study of anger. Assumption 1 Anger Is Undesirable. It is, as the Buddha said, painful and profitless. Anger is undesirable for two reasons. First, it feels unpleasant. Irritation, grouchiness, losing your cool, are not good feelings. The...

Problem Solving as Compassionate Action

About 30 years ago a new approach to helping people began to develop. This focused less on severe psychological disturbance and more on daily problems of living, especially as they arose in social situations. People came to therapists for assistance because they were intimidated and tongue-tied in difficult social situations. Others came because they erupted with anger and violence in certain situations. Both types felt that their emotions (fear and anger, respectively) were making themselves...

The Noble Truth of Dukkha Part Caught in the Causal Matrix

We have so far considered two of the three aspects of Dukkha. First, life inevitably entails a great deal of suffering. This ranges from the acute produced by wars, famines, disease, etc. to the commonplace feelings that frequently wash over us grouchiness, fear, anger, boredom, depression, aches and pains, loneliness, etc. . Second, although suffering is frequently not experienced, it is always potential. The angel of suffering, so to speak, lurks about us even in the best of times. The third...

Savarasana

One of the Yoga postures, called Savarasana, is completely different from the others and has its own particular effects. I describe it as the dead-weight pose but that is not quite the literal translation. This is not a movement but a state of being. Wearing loose clothing, lie flat on your back on a comfortable surface e.g., a rug, a mattress, even a grassy lawn , arms at your sides, legs slightly apart. Your eyes may be open or closed I prefer keeping them open . There should be an awareness...

The truth of Nirvana We can attain freedom from Dukkha We do this by changing ourselves by transforming our cravings

Buddhism does not contain only the dark view that we live in Dukkha, in the valley of tears. It also shows a way out. Because Dukkha derives from the maelstrom of cravings, urges, passions, and feelings, the way out requires putting an end to this turbulence. We must strive to reduce, minimize, even eliminate these inner pushes and pulls that seem to come from all directions. We need, in short, to transform ourselves. This emphasis may be seen in the following story In ancient India, a common...

The Yogic State Part Immersion

What are we practicing when we spend an hour doing different asanas On the surface, we are practicing movements aimed at making our bodies more flexible. Also, we are practicing slow, deep breathing for its physiological benefits. This is on the surface. On the inside we are practicing certain skills. Most importantly, we are practicing focusing, immersing ourselves completely in the activity. Ideally, all of the mental activity is directed exclusively to moving, breathing, and relaxing. There...

Supermaturity

In the last chapter we suggested a parallel between Eastern and Western ideals. Both the Buddhist monk and the clinical psychologist work toward understanding the forces that determine the inner life. As a result, they both work toward behaving compassionately with others. The present chapter describes another ideal that we share with the Eastern tradition. In our culture, it is good for an adult human to act like a mature human being and it is bad to act in an immature way. You're being...

Anatman Reconsidered You Are Not Your Mind

Buddhism, as we have seen, arose in a Hindu context and shares many of its ideals. At the outset, however, the Buddha announced one point of difference, the doctrine of Anatman. For the Hindu Yogi, the inner Atman constitutes the essential self. All other psychological processes, that is, our emotions and states of mind, are peripheral. The following example from Yoga practice will illustrate this idea. Suppose you are starting the phy sical exercises of Yoga with a simple movement like raising...