The elemental struggle is with our feeling of being wrong, with our guilt and shame at what we are. That’s what we have to befriend. ~ Pema Chodron
Recognize the Void
In truth, the notion of self we attach to the aggregates is a mere mental fabrication, a label put on something that does not exist. People who wear tinted glasses or suffer from a visual impairment would see a white conch as yellow, even though the conch has never been anything but white. In the same way, our deluded minds attribute reality to something that is utterly nonexistent.
This is what we call ignorance: not recognizing the void nature of phenomena and assuming that phenomena possess the attribute of true existence although, in fact, they are devoid of it. With ignorance comes attachment to all that is pleasant to the ego as well as hatred and repulsion for all that is unpleasant. In that way the three poisons—ignorance, attachment, and hatred—come into being. Under the influence of these three poisons, the mind becomes like a servant running here and there. This is how the suffering of samsara is built up. It all derives from a lack of discernment and a distorted perception of the nature of phenomena.
Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche, “An Investigation of the Mind.”
A spoon cannot taste of the food it carries. Likewise, a foolish man cannot understand the wise man´s wisdom even if he associates with a sage. ~ His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
Everybody, even the best of us, will sometimes behave ingloriously, and to think otherwise is to be hemmed in by vanity. As sad sinners wandering through samsara, one of the few things we can count on is that we are on occasion going to screw up miserably. For those of us who are exceptionally reliable in this regard, it is nothing less than a saving grace, is it not, that in our guise as bodhisattvas, falling down on the job is the biggest part of the job, and sometimes, somehow, failure, if allowed to do its work, can actually be surprisingly emancipatory. It can even help make us whole. We have to try to be better—wiser, kinder, more generous—people, but mostly there’s no getting away from our embarrassing, maddening, harebrained selves. ~ Andrew Cooper, “The Debacle”
We must see that when we feel anger, we are not reacting to the person who harmed us, but to that person’s hatred. Their hatred has blinded them. They were unable to stand up for themselves. They submitted completely to their anger. Even though they think they are doing something great, consider how stupid they have actually been. They have become total slaves of their hatred. Who is a better candidate for compassion than that? ~ Gelek Rimpoche
We must learn how to identify the opposing sides in our inner conflicts. Take anger: we need to see how destructive it is and at the same time, realize there are antidotes within our own thoughts and emotions that can counter it. So by understanding how negative it is and then by strengthening our positive thoughts and emotions, we can gradually reduce the force of our anger and hatred. ~ His Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama
In the middle of this road, we call our life
I found myself in a dark wood
with no clear path through. ~ Dante Alighieri, Divine Comedy, “Inferno.”