Remembering the Lama ~ 17th Karmapa

Cutting through afflictions is difficult, especially once they have come up, because we are so habituated to them. What we can do is recognize that anger is about to arise and then take action. We can use a method or remedy that will deter the anger from becoming a full-blown negative emotion.

One way I have found effective is to recall a particular lama whom I trust and like and whose speech is pleasing. For example, one lama may have taught me why anger or aversion undermines practice and how negative its effects are, so I bring to mind that lama’s advice: “Don’t be influenced by the afflictions. Be careful!”

Whenever I sense that anger is about to arise, I just remember that lama and his instructions. When I do this, it helps me not to be overpowered by the negative emotion. My closeness to that lama and my respect for him makes me think, “This is not right. It goes against my lama’s words.” Another way of using this method is to remember a book we really like that deals with the afflictions, and bring these passages to mind. Then, like a sound becoming ever louder, when we sense that an affliction is on the rise, we can turn the volume back down before it fully manifests. This, too, can be useful.

17th Karmapa

from the book Traveling the Path of Compassion: A Commentary on The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva

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