A commentary by Gelek Rimpoche
A fragment from chapter 2: About equanimity
When you really look, you will find that while dealing with people you suddenly do have attachment or aversion. At the same time, all different ideas pop up, like insecurity, ego protection like ‘If I don”t protect myself, I”ll be the doormat”, also wanting to force the other person to admit his or her mistake, trying to get hold of the person, sit them down and talk to that person and say ‘Hey its your fault, admit it now! Don”t go!” All of those things we do. As a consequence of that you get all kinds of trouble. The friend is no longer so close as he used to be – slightly distanced. The relation with the dear friend you could not live without for a single minute, becomes ‘I need room for myself.”. Those types of thoughts come in. Slightly it changes, almost like shifting gears. That is how attachment and aversion bring suffering. A simple example dealing with our every day life.
If we go through with this, that”s what happens. We always blame it on somebody else, for all kinds of reasons. Think about it: first, there”s attraction, it brings you together, then something goes wrong and you start to compare, to see if you and him are compatible. If you have nothing to do with the person, the person never becomes your enemy. Many of the people that you dislike, who are giving you discomfort, whom you don”t want to think about, don”t want to talk about, have somehow first been pulled by attachment, and later separated by aversion, hatred or anger. If you look into your own mind, and look back into your own history, into the melodrama of your life, for the last whatever amount of years you want to, you”re going to find that it is really truly the attachment and aversion which sort of pulled you together, and then separated you.
The final cause of it is not even just attachment and aversion; it is the personal ego, the ego within us. Ego manifests in all different varieties of thoughts: in the form of protecting myself, in the form of my own goodness, in the form of being there for my own service and protection. You know, if ego would come up and tell us ‘Hey I want you to listen to me and do exactly what I told you!” we would never be under the control of ego. We would all just give them the finger, or we”d use the F-word, or whatever. We”d kick the ego out straightaway, with no problem. But unfortunately ego doesn”t come out that way. It comes as part and parcel of myself, as my own protector, my own guardian angel, as something very precious, very important, almost like the Buddha within me. That”s how ego manifests. That”s why it has been able to control us.
So, when you call a person ”enemy”, the moment you imagine that person, the moment the face pops up, immediately dislike comes into the mind, sourness. It doesn”t feel great, there”s no looking forward, and your face looks like L , while when you call a person friend, the face goes up, changes into J . The moment you notice that, you have to check ‘Why am I doing this?” Then you”ll get all these reasons ‘Oh, he hurt me, she said something behind my back.” A zillion different reasons for different persons will come. The main reason is ‘He hurt me; therefore, I don”t like him. I can”t say it, but I wish he had some trouble.” That is anger and when it goes deeper, it becomes hatred. It is not really the simple temper tantrum that we face right at the beginning, but a sort of constantly remaining feeling. And the label is attached to that person; whenever the idea of that person comes up, hate begins with you, or you start wishing them some difficulties. That is the anger/hatred combination, coming up together.
When you recognize that, when you see that within yourself, do not deny it. Our chances are that we”re going to deny it first ‘Oh yeah, I don”t like it very much, but it”s okay.” We really lean towards denying having hatred, denying dislike, denying that we are wishing trouble to that person. That will give room for negative emotions to grow. It becomes their breeding ground. Just like when swamp and heat come together, the mosquitoes can breed, here you give that same opportunity.
At this second level of equanimity – I”m not in the deep level yet – you try to somehow normalize the relationship. Let me remind you of that meditation.
– Equanimity meditation from the relative point of view
You look at the three different people you have in front of you: enemy, friend and stranger. When you look at the enemy you straightway develop dislike. Then you observe yourself ‘Why do I develop a dislike? Why don”t I like that person, why do I hate him or her?” You”ll have some simple reasons, like ”That person did this and this to me, insulted me”, or ‘I tried my best but he kept ignoring me”. Any reason will come, as a powerful wind that tries to push your mind towards hatred or anger.
How do you stop that? You stop it by remembering the kindness and care, the good times shared with these people. That way you try to reduce the hatred. You may think, her today”s behavior is such a thing, however, she or he did this great thing last year, or last month, or even yesterday.
If you do that, the hatred that you developed, the anger that was coming up against that person, is reduced. It”s because you remember the good things that person did to you, the wonderful things that you shared together. You purposely bring them out.
This person may have been my friend before; this person may become my very good friend in later years.
In reality, this person is not exactly the way I imagine him, the way I project her. It can be a friend at some time, even a very close friend at some time. He or she may have helped me before, and may help me later, that person may become one of the best friends that I could ever have. Past tense, future tense, present level – I consider all of those. I”m now labeling that person as an enemy, and I”m trying to discard them, I”m trying to throw them away, I”m trying to not care, not be concerned.
What I”ve been doing might be slightly wrong. This is my hatred, and that is not right. There”s no reason why I have to hate that person so much.
That”s how you stop hatred. I”m giving you the material to think. In other words, it”s your meditation, that”s how you meditate. Doing it once is not going to stop the hatred, it needs to be repeated, again and again, and again. Saying ‘I”m going to get rid of my anger once and for all!” or ‘Anger somewhere inside of there, get out!” is not going to work. When you see the anger or hatred, keep the projection of the person you”re angry with in mind, look for the reasons, and then give yourself a decision to stop. That”s how you stop anger/hatred on an individual person. You say, I am going to stop it. I am not going to have hatred anymore to that person.
But then two minutes later, you”ll find that you”re angry again. It doesn”t matter, that”s what we all do. Look at the children. They learn how to walk by falling down three hundred times a day, they learn how to get up, and finally they learn how to walk. That”s exactly the way we should do it. Is that clear to you?
In the same way you can stop attachment. Likewise, this is the training for changing your attitude towards the person who you don”t care about; you use the same good old reasons of past, present and future times. That”s how you stop from your part that big black and white difference. From your own mind, you are equalizing hatred and attachment and ”I couldn”t care less”.
© Jewel Heart 2001