Where is the Barrier?

Where Is the Barrier

 “Within adversity or injustice it is especially difficult to understand that if we want to get to the root of the suffering, we have to deal with both the creator and master of the suffering. It can be difficult when the problem seems so clearly located somewhere else. And, indeed, there may be a real problem. But if we want to get to the root of suffering, as Qinshan said, we have to bring out the master within that barrier. Because we’ll find that even when injustice has been rectified, even when inequality has turned to equality, the root of suffering persists. This is what the Buddha realized. This is the First Noble Truth, “Life is dukkha.””Dharma Talk by Geoffrey Shugen Arnold Sensei Blue Cliff Record, Case 56 Quinshan’s One Arrowpoint Smashes Three Barriers Featured in Mountain Record 28.2, Winter 2009

What does this mean? It means that, even if equality and justice prevail, we will still suffer. That does not give us an excuse to do wrong for selfish purposes. Who wants that kind of karma coming back to kick their butt?

The suffering comes from the never-ending parade of wants. Have you ever tried to meditate? I’ve noticed that I’ll have an itch and, if I avoid scratching it long enough, it moves to another spot. Wants don’t end.

It doesn’t stop. Being the master and creator of suffering means, in my opinion, learning how not to scratch the itch of every desire. I’m not saying desire is bad. Desires can be used for the benefit of our fellow humans. I am talking about developing self-control and discernment regarding one’s desires. This is where Buddhism provides a foundation for discernment that American Christianity doesn’t.

Imagine that you do not fulfill a desire. Never fear: there’s another coming right around the corner. Becoming desire-free is not the goal. Knowing what satisfies and what doesn’t is. Desire isn’t the problem; attachment to our desires is.



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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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