Self-Reliance and How to Contemplate the Truth

Self-Reliance

“We must be both our own doctor, as well as the patient. We must prescribe and take our own medicine. Now, in being our own doctor, in checking up on our thoughts, actions, and speech, we must administer an X-Ray on a daily basis, an X-Ray to pinpoint problem areas for the day. What have we done today that clashes with others? What have we said that doesn’t sit well with other people? We have to check ourselves in order to find out. Sometimes our thoughts side heavily with ourselves. So we must realize that we are being a dictator. We shouldn’t use ourselves as the standard. This is how we teach ourselves. We are who reminds ourselves.”

How to Contemplate the Truth

“Wisdom arises from frequent thought, contemplation, and analysis of reality that adheres to The Three Common Characteristics: Impermanence, Suffering, and Cessation of existence in a supposed form. All things arise from a cause will be extinguished once that cause is extinguished. This is a classic dhamma contemplation. Let us build an accurate understanding of how things arise, exist temporarily and must inevitably deteriorate and cease to be. Everything shares these three common characteristics. There is only a discrepancy in the time it takes for each thing to cease to exist as this is contingent on the extinction of its cause. Some things arise quickly and are extinguished quickly while some things take longer to deteriorate. Regardless, it will ultimately cease to exist.”

Luang Por Thoon Khippapanyo
May 20, 1935 – November 11, 2008

You realize that there is no one there. The mind with its thoughts, feelings and perceptions just seems to arise out of nowhere, disappears and arises again.

“When it becomes clear that grasping is the cause of dukkha, you just let go. Instead of clinging, you just release it. The peace that comes from releasing is nirodha, the experience of cessation, the Third Noble Truth which is often hardly even noticed.

The mind, under the influence of the ego, is more inclined to notice what is exciting or interesting. Usually you might be pushing away an experience, or grasping it, or struggling with it, or making something out of it, or becoming it. But then, in this moment of insight, you see these as just the reactive responses we usually have out of ignorance of our mind states, our bodily experiences and so on.

Cessation is peaceful: the ending of grasping, the ending of our problems, the ending of ‘me’ with my story and all its complexities.

You realize that there is no one there. The mind with its thoughts, feelings and perceptions just seems to arise out of nowhere, disappears and arises again. It is only through our delusion that we are constantly building up a sense of self around that, creating what we hope is some kind of secure landscape. We construct a person again and again out of our misapprehension of physical and mental phenomena.”

~Ajahn Sundara

What manifests externally mirrors what’s going on internally.

“In our meditation practice we look at life as it manifests inwardly. We can see situations that took place this morning, or yesterday, or ten years ago. We can see the feelings that remain from residues of the past, and from the present as well. We can learn a lot of information about the way we respond to life and the residues of our actions. The clearer the mirror, the clearer we are, the more we become aware of what manifests within.

And then we have the external world, our everyday life, our interaction with people and the situations of our daily life. This mirrors something else – or what seems to be something else, but actually, the more we practise, the more we realize that what manifests externally mirrors what’s going on internally.

Once you understand this it’s a lot easier to deal with life, because you see very clearly that the world which arises in ourselves is what manifests externally.

Until we see this we may feel we don’t have many choices, but the more clearly we see it, the easier it is to transform our life for the better, so that we can be a little kinder, a little bit more helpful to ourselves and other people, a little more readily generous.”

~Ajahn Sundara

When the mind is still untrained, there is only a tiny gap between its contents and the way it manifests externally.

“When the mind is still untrained, there is only a tiny gap between its contents and the way it manifests externally. When we are angry, we just manifest anger. When we are upset we manifest this immediately. We are just acting out our mind state. But after practising for a while, we begin to appreciate that although we may not yet be able to act like a saint, at least we have a teaching that enables us to restrain the mind. In other words, we have a choice. We have an option.”

~Ajahn Sundara

​Do your best in every moment

“Unless you are a yogi like Milarepa you should definitely plan and prepare as if you are going to live another 50 or 70 years or whatever; you should plan that way. But in you, you really should know that that might not be the case. And not only that, we should not only think of our impermanence, but also everything else. Any kind of situation, you name it, everything is impermanent. That way it is about everything.

So how do we handle this? I say take a deep breath and take it easy. The most important thing is to do your best with every moment of your life. Be good, sincere, kind, honest and hard working. If you are meditating, meditate well, if you are doing something, do it well. Do your best in every moment. That is how to take care of the understanding of impermanence. If you just sit there and worry that you might die in the next hour, that’s not the best use of the understanding of impermanence. Make the best out of your lives, even if you are going to die in the next hour you will not have any regret if you have done your best. That is how to handle it.”
– Tai Situ Rinpoche

from the book “Essential Teachings of Gampopa”

Allow some space within our awareness and rest there

“If we can allow some space within our awareness and rest there, we can respect our troubling thoughts and emotions, allow them to come, and let them go. Our lives may be complicated on the outside, but we remain simple, easy, and open on the inside.”

– Tsoknyi Rinpoche

from the book “Solid Ground: Buddhist Wisdom for Difficult Times”