Monday, March 09, 2009


The origin of suffering, strangely, can come either from trying to be highly disciplined and aware or from completely losing one’s awareness. Generally, if you are not mindful and aware, suffering begins to arise; whereas, if you are mindful and aware, suffering does not arise. However, suffering can also come from using your awareness discipline as a means of securing yourself by developing set patterns in life. Ego-oriented patterns arise from both attitudes and actions, and lead to suffering. They include (1) regarding the five skandhas, or aspects of ego, as belonging to oneself, (2) protecting oneself from impermanence, (3) believing that one’s view is best, (4) believing in the extremes of nihilism (that nothing matters) and eternalism (that things last forever), as well as the extreme emotions of (5) passion, (6) aggression, and (7) ignorance....
As a practitioner, you realize that these patterns don't particularly go away, but at least you know what they are all about, and as you go along, you will probably know what you should do about it. You may think that once the dharma or the truth has been spoken, it should solve those problems automatically, but that is not the case. First you have to get into the dharma; then you can think about what you can do. Unless you are a businessman, you can't discuss bankruptcy.

From "The Development of Set Patterns," in THE TRUTH OF SUFFERING: and the Path of Liberation. Forthcoming from Shambhala Publications. Pre-order your copy at:

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