Patience and Effort
A Teaching from Ven. Tenzin Palmo Part 2 - (continued from issue 2)

It’s not helpful to have the mind as a battlefield.  Shantideva writes about using the mind as a battlefield and wielding the sword of discrimination to destroy all the negative factors of the mind. But that is not really helpful because, especially in the West, people start blaming themselves, castigating themselves, feeling guilty and getting caught up in a lot of conflict. "Oh, I’m such a bad person, I always was such a bad person, I always will be such a bad person."  Using the mind as a battlefield against oneself is not in any way psychologically useful.

Better than that is just to see the thoughts and feelings as they arise.  Recognise them for what they are,  accept them and, if they are not useful,  let them go. Even better than that, of course, is to recognise their empty, transparent nature because if we recognise that then, of themselves, they will transform into a kind of intelligence.

It is actually better on the spiritual path to be a tiger than a rabbit.

In themselves, negative emotions are not necessarily a bad thing.  Even such strong emotions as anger, jealousy and desire are, at their very root, an energy.  If we allow them to channel out through negative channels then, of course, this creates a lot of conflict and turmoil. But if we can see them in their true nature, then we get back to their energy source and it transforms into a very deep and profound energy –- intelligence.

Therefore it is actually better on the spiritual path to be a tiger than a rabbit. Rabbits are very nice and they’re quite cuddly and cute but what do they do? There you are, a nice little rabbit twitching your nose, but there’s no power there, there’s no force so, spiritually speaking, it’s not very helpful. It might be very pleasant to live with rabbits, but there’s no drive. However, someone with very strong emotions, like a tiger, can be very destructive if left in the wild, but if they can learn to harness those emotions then that becomes the drive to enlightenment.

That is why the greatest practitioners in Tibet were usually Kampa. The Kampas of Eastern Tibet were, left in their natural state, quite wild. They were bandits and brigands. They were known by the more effete central Tibetans as very wild and woolly. But those very rough and quite violent people made the very greatest practitioners because when they channelled that energy into a spiritual path nothing stopped them.

Using the mind as a battlefield against oneself 
is not in any way
psychologically useful.

So, it’s not our emotions, even our negative emotions, which are the problem. The problem is whether they control us or we control them. The best way to control is through seeing and thebest way to see is through developing awareness. Once we are conscious and aware of our emotions, of our motivations, then we have the wish-fulfilling gem in our hands and everything can be transformed. As long as we are unknowing, as long as we are identified with our thoughts and emotions, as long as we are controlled by our thoughts and emotions, we are slaves. So it’s amatter of learning how to master the mind. Who is going to be in control here – our emotions or us? (Whatever ‘us’ may be -- we’re talking on a relative level here!)

Most of us are complete slaves to our emotions and thoughts. When we are angry, we are the anger. When we are jealous, we are the jealousy. When we are depressed, we are the depression.  We are complete slaves to our desires, our angers, our aversions, our jealousies, our hopes and our fears. We’re not in control at all.v