Causes & Conditions

imagesThe Dharma teaches that the manifestation of a consequence requires the confluence of multiple causes and conditions. Wrong views, afflicted emotions (attachment, aversion, and indifference), and the habits and tendencies that impel us to act in ways that are unskillful or undesirable constitute the fundamental causes of unbeneficial actions. The conditions that favor such conducts include material circumstances, similarly-inclined company, and situations.

If we desire to avoid those habitual tendencies, it is essential that we avoid conducive conditions for its manifestation. A well-known example is that of a person with alcoholic tendencies, who must avoid proximity and access to alcohol (material circumstances), persons with similar conducts (company), and those events in which this behavior is normative (situations).

We can successfully apply this strategy to all unskillful tendencies, identifying and avoiding the triggers that favor the repetition of any conduct we may wish to eliminate.

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Friend to the World

e84f5d59aa5f03cdc3b4320121f46039Now, while there is freedom to act,

I should always present a smiling face

and cease to frown and grimace.

The first to extend my hand in kindness,

I shall be a friend to the whole world.

—Shantideva, Bodhisattvacaryavatara

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Weary of Suffering

15541109_321246084941227_3650917970949459914_n“Transient are all conditioned things.”

When one discerns this with wisdom,

one becomes weary of suffering.

This is the path to purity.

 

“Sorrowful are all conditioned things.”

When one discerns this with wisdom,

one becomes weary of suffering.

This is the path to purity.

 

“All phenomena are without a self.”

When one discerns this with wisdom,

one becomes weary of suffering.

This is the path to purity.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Dharmapada

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Children and Old Men

16195033_967753589990783_7071351214236564669_nBai Juyi (772-846 CE) was an important poet and government official of the Tang Dynasty in China. He once asked a monk for the most essential Dharma instruction, and the monk replied by quoting the Buddha’s summary teaching, “Avoid harm. Do good. Purify the mind.”

Bai Juyi was not impressed, “Every child of three years knows these words. What I want to know is the most profound and fundamental teaching of the Buddha.” The monk replied, “Every child of three years knows these words, but white-haired men still fail to put them into practice.”

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Projections

moviesConsciousness (mind and mentation) is “the stuff” what we mistake to be subject and object, me and mine, us and things. There is no substantial me, mine, us, things, but only internal representations in our experience.

When you see a movie, the actors and the scenery are not there in the theater. They are images on film, projected on a screen. These images look like various persons and things, but they are all “made” of the same stuff: light and shadow.

In the same way, our every experience is only in and of consciousness, taking the form of (transforming into) subject and object, self and beings, phenomena and their characteristics. Our experience is never extra-mental. It is always internal.

 

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Here and There

shakyamuni_100As a river, when full, must flow

and reach and fill the distant plain,

so what is given here, indeed,

will reach and bless the beings there.

 

As water on a mountain top

must soon descend and fill the plain,

so what is given here, indeed,

will reach and bless the beings there.

—Buddha Shakyamuni, Nidhikanda Sutta, Khuddakapatha

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Real Treasure

treasureAmong all possessions,

the Buddha described contentment

as the best and most excellent.

Always be content!

If you know contentment,

even if you have nothing else,

you own a real treasure.

—Arya Nagarjuna, Letter to a Friend

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