The point of that post was that if you want to be at peace and content, the Buddhist path to that state is very clear, which is not to say it’s easy to travel. Basically, one needs to let go of almost everything you’ve come to know and believe in during your life as a result of your upbringing and your learned experience. That is to say, you need to let go of everything coming from your ego-mind and accept that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is.
We have a choice to make. If you truly want peace and happiness, then you have to have the intent to let your attachment to feelings and perceptions go and instead reconnect with your heart, your true Buddha nature. If you aren’t willing to let go of your habit-energies, then you won’t find peace and happiness; your suffering will not end. It’s as simple as that.
Recently I’ve been reading a Sufi book that focuses on reconnecting with the heart and tuning your heart so that all feelings and perceptions that would disturb your inherent peace and happiness are discarded. It makes the point that no price, no “sacrifice” is too great for attaining a state of peace and happiness. … enduring what you are not willing to endure, overlooking what one is not inclined to overlook, tolerating what you cannot tolerate, forgiving what you would never have forgotten. Because, one can have all the riches and power in the world, but if you don’t have peace and happiness, then you have nothing. One still suffers and dwells in samsara.
Given the centrality of this intent to making progress on the path, I thought it warranted another post. We are talking here about changing the whole game plan of one’s life, not just a point here and there. We are talking about changing your whole Weltanschauung, the conceptual framework that governs how you view yourself and the world around you that has developed over your lifetime.
To even entertain such a change, you must have a strong and deep belief in the teachings of the Buddha. There can be no doubt in your mind. That foundation rock is necessary to enable you to withstand the resistance you will experience from your ego-mind.
For even when your belief is strong and abiding, even when you have made a commitment to let go of your habit-energies, your attachment to your feelings and perceptions, your ego-mind (which will always be part of you) will not give up its power, it’s perceived role as protector of your best interests, without a fight. When you say to yourself that it is in my best interest to listen to my heart and not to my ego-mind, it will not be happy.
Your ego has built a whole backstory of your life that says both what you must do to protect yourself from those around you and what you need to be happy. Whereas your heart tells you that you have everything you need within yourself to be at peace and happy regardless what life throws your way. All those feelings and perceptions that define you in your mind do nothing but disturb your inherent peace and happiness and create suffering. But since you are used to functioning as a creature of your ego-mind, letting go all of your attachments to those feelings and perceptions will not be easy.
And that is where the critical role of meditation enters. There is no substitute for meditation … and by this I mean formal meditation, not “meditating” while working out or listening to some music or cooking. One can believe, one can learn, one can understand, but until you are able through meditation to touch your heart, your unborn Buddha mind, and perceive the truths of the dharma from within, your progress on the path will be limited. As Krishnamurti says, there has to be an internal revolution.
But even after you do perceive the truths from within, you’re not home free yet as your ego-mind will seek at any weak moment to assert itself. This can be very disappointing, a thought by the way coming from your ego-mind, unless here again one is aware that this is just the way things are. As a monk once said to me, it’s like the laws of thermodynamics; it just is.
The first lojong (a set of 59 slogans that encompass the essence of the Buddha’s teachings) says in part that underlying all the Buddha’s teachings and one’s work on following the path is the awareness that suffering is inevitable unless one engages in mindfulness training and stops obsessing about getting what you don’t have and avoiding what you don’t want. This truth, together with the other truths contained in the first lojong … the preciousness of human life, the inevitability of death, and the dynamic of cause and effect … underly all the rest of the Buddha’s teachings.
So, do you really want peace and happiness? If so, take a deep breath and commit yourself to follow the path regardless where it leads, regardless what it requires of you, free of any push-back.