Poison of Self-Cherishing

Poison of Self-Cherishing

Date Posted:
October 2005

This is a letter from a student who had some realizations about the suffering of cyclic existence. Rinpoche felt it could be helpful for others to read.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Deer Park 2008. Photo: Kalleen Mortensen.

Dearest Teacher and Friend,
I have been in the hell realms with my children for the last 18 months. At this point we have not spoken for many months. Over the years they have been angry at me for a number of things. I have not seen any of my grandchildren for over a year. It just goes on and on. I have been alternately angry, frustrated, confused, and hurt by their behavior toward me.

On Saturday night my husband and I had yet another conversation, trying to figure it all out. Again, no answers. I got out of bed and went into another room and just cried. I realized that I can get answers to these kinds of questions from my own side. It is impossible to figure out the motivations of others. However, I can try to understand my own motivation. I went into a meditative state with the question, “What was my motivation for having each of these children?”

As my mind drifted further back in time, I remembered who I was when they were conceived. I was a mess. I wanted my children to save me. I wanted them to help me to have what I did not have. I wanted someone to love me. ME ME ME. It was all about me and my needs, and, of course, when they arrived they were helpless and needed all those things from me. When I really got in touch with the feelings and thoughts of my mind from that time, I realized why my kids have always seemed so unhappy with me. That important beginning was poisoned by self-cherishing. At the moment that realization came, I felt a small explosion go off in my mind. The realization of the torment in cyclic existence hit me full on, and my heart filled with compassion for these beings. I held onto the understanding for a while, and then I trotted off to bed. When I put my head on the pillow I wished that I had memorized “Calling the Lama from Afar.” I simply said three times, “Lama Zopa, help me to banish self-cherishing from my life!” I immediately went to sleep.

In the morning when I woke up, the feeling of tightness in my chest, like dull teeth biting in, was gone! I have had this feeling for 18 months, sometimes worse than others, but always there. And now it was gone. I felt a kind of peace that had eluded me not just in this situation, but through many things that have happened in my life. I went to the Wheel of Sharp Weapons and found this:

When others find fault with whatever we are doing, and people seem eager to blame only us, this is the wheel of sharp weapons returning full circle upon us from wrongs we have done. Till now we have been shameless, not caring about others. We have thought that our deeds did not matter at all. Hereafter, let's stop our offensive behavior. (v. 23)

It seems to me that this sums it up. I am a cause of my own suffering, and it is up to me, and me alone, to become enlightened to stop this suffering for all beings.

Do you think this qualifies as a meditation on the lower scope?

Biggest love and prayers to you Dear Heart. I thank you for caring for me and never giving up on me. Have a safe journey and a safe return.

Your friend in Dharma...