Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dharma Quotes: Suffering

Today's Dharma quotes from Snow Lion Publications are related -- both look at suffering in their own ways.

Dharma Quote of the Week

Just as your innermost wish is to be free from suffering and to abide in happiness, so too is it the aspiration of all other beings. But, they, like you, encounter sufferings and problems in their lives, and often their difficulties are much worse than your own. Examine your capacity to help them. At this time your ability to help them is quite limited, but if you reduce your own ignorance, anger, attachment, and other faults, and increase your good qualities such as generosity, patience, loving-kindness, compassion, and wisdom, you will be of greater benefit. If you become fully enlightened, you will be of the greatest possible benefit to all beings. Thus generate the altruistic intention to become a Buddha in order to benefit all sentient beings most effectively.

~ From Guided Meditations on the Stages of the Path by Thubten Chodron, foreword by H.H. the Dalai Lama, published by Snow Lion Publications.

And . . .

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

We can see that there are many ways in which we actively contribute to our own experience of mental unrest and suffering. Although, in general, mental and emotional afflictions themselves can come naturally, often it is our own reinforcement of those negative emotions that makes them so much worse. For instance when we have anger or hatred towards a person, there is less likelihood of its developing to a very intense degree if we leave it unattended. However, if we think about the projected injustices done to us, the ways in which we have been unfairly treated, and we keep on thinking about them over and over, then that feeds the hatred. It makes the hatred very powerful and intense. Of course, the same can apply to when we have an attachment towards a particular person; we can feed that by thinking about how beautiful he or she is, and as we keep thinking about the projected qualities that we see in the person, the attachment becomes more and more intense. But this shows how through constant familiarity and thinking, we ourselves can make our emotions more intense and powerful.

We also often add to our pain and suffering by being overly sensitive, overreacting to minor things, and sometimes taking things too personally. We tend to take small things too seriously and blow them up out of proportion, while at the same time we often remain indifferent to the really important things, those things which have profound effects on our lives and long-term consequences and implications.

So I think that to a large extent, whether you suffer depends on how you respond to a given situation.

~ From The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

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