Our society reflects a lack of self-reliance (Part 2) | Worship

By Sal Barba, Ph.D, a local Buddhist | Sep 03, 2014

This is Part 2 of a discussion on the importance of self-reliance. If you missed Part 1, you can read it online at www.mukilteobeacon.com.

I am reminded of one of many stories about unlikely circumstances where a person became “undone” and a moment of clarity occurred. I laughed hysterically when I heard the story about the monk going to the monastery’s crapper.

In Tibet, this means a shed at the edge of a cliff with no floor, so that whatever is produced just drops down the cliff.

There was a monk in the outhouse. The door was closed. His teacher sneaks up to the outhouse, and brings all of the other monks of the monastery, as well as all of the people from the neighboring village, too.

They are all standing in a big crowd in front of the outhouse, when the teacher opens the door of the outhouse. The monk is squatting there with his robes down. At first, he becomes completely stunned at someone opening the door with hundreds of people looking at him.

As soon as he snaps out of his state of mind, he pulls up his robes, and becomes extremely enraged at his teacher. He holds his robes up with one hand and chases the teacher across the courtyard.

The teacher running in front of the monk while the monk running after him, shouting, “I’m going to kill you! Why did you do this?” They keep running, and the monk continues with his insults and shouts at his teacher, escalating his anger!

Eventually, the monk comes closer and closer to his teacher, and when he almost catches up with him, and attempts to grab him, the teacher turns around, stops and points at him, saying, “Now look at your mind!” And, that was that, just in that instant.

This is an example of how one culture takes the reversed position in that it invites the examination of one’s mind, and rewards the individual for walking upon the path of self-reliance.

In Buddhist Psychology, if there is any clinging, as the above story illustrates, there is no self-reliance.

All of the rules in Buddhism, all of the vows, regulations and do’s and don’ts are developed to facilitate the process of gradually shifting from clinging to the freedom from clinging.

What does freedom from clinging mean? Clinging arises as the eight worldly dharmas, which reveal our habitual patterns.

Our daily conduct is generally based upon doing what is pleasurable or good for us and defending ourselves from whatever feels negative or unpleasurable.

In Buddhist practice, we are not examining what is good for us. Instead, we are reflecting upon what is good for others. Ideally, however, we are not even thinking about what is good for others.

Rather, our conduct is simply the spontaneous altruism expressed from our realization. This means to be naturally kind, compassionate and to help others in any way possible.

Self-reliance allows for the truth to be heard as rude to those who live in a trance – in our culture, its new ageism.

We can take illustration from some of the great people that lived on the planet. Their conduct reflect these qualities consistently, such as the Dalai Lama, Mahatma Gandhi, mother Theresa, etc.

Reflect upon your current path, and think about the subtle ways that you undermine developing your own sense of self-reliance. Do you conform to authority, or do you respectfully challenge the status-quo? What must you do to live in each moment as a self-reliant person?

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