Friday, March 20, 2009

Buddhist Answers to Common Questions

Bhutanese novices playing in the Himalayan Buddhist kingdom (

"I often suffer with mood swings. Some days I am quite happy, but the next I feel quite irritated or depressed. How can Buddhism help me stabilize my life?"
Lam Shenphen Zangpo answers basic questions that every Bhutanese man, woman, and child on the street wants to know:

Well, no-thing arises from no-where, and so there must be a reason for your emotional swings. Perhaps they are sparked by a colleague’s insensitive words or maybe you expect too much from life.

Whatever the trigger, the root cause is the same: relying on external references for happiness. This is an underlying reason for our vulnerability.

As we know, all form, emotions, and perceptions are composed of an infinite number of parts, and even a minor change in any of these has far reaching effects. A stock market crash in London causes bankruptcies in Taipei. A politician killed in Lahore causes heightened security in New York. Due to its intricate and dependent nature, our environment is extremely fragile and unstable.

Therefore, it is natural to feel insecure when our mental wellbeing is contingent on external reference points. It is like leaning on a rickety desk. When it moves, we move. The trick, then, is remove ourselves from these externals and instead develop a genuine and flexible mind.

The great Indian Buddhist scholar Atisha Dipankara identified eight hopes and fears that bind us to external reference points: praise and blame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain, and fame and disgrace. These are hooks and we are like fish deceived by their appearance. We believe they are a source of happiness, whereas in reality they are a short cut to suffering. More>>

No comments: