We are pleased to offer you this excerpt from Pema Chödrön's recording "This Moment is the Perfect Teacher."
I’m going to be presenting Lojong teachings, which consists of Tonglen practice and working with some of the 49 Lojong slogans. What’s unique about the Lojong teachings is they are teachings for using difficult circumstances as the path to awakening. So, they’re not teachings about getting rid of difficult circumstances; they’re teachings about using difficult circumstances as the path to enlightenment. And this is pretty unusual.
The Buddhist teachings say that as a species, every single human being that’s ever been born and every single one of us sitting in this room and all the other of quadrillion sentient beings throughout the world -- human beings in particular at a very emotional level, maybe not intellectually, but at an emotional level -- we feel that things should be happy, and that when thing are difficult and painful, we feel that something is wrong.
According to the Buddhist teachings, that is actually what causes suffering. According to the Buddhist teachings, there is difficulty inevitable in human life, such as death -- can’t escape that one. But also aging, illness, and not getting what you want. Not to mention getting what you don’t want. There are certain things like that that are, according to the Buddhist teachings, facts of life. But what the Buddhist teachings say is that that’s not really what causes us misery. What causes us misery is always trying to get away from the facts of life -- always trying to avoid pain and seek a kind of lasting happiness or the sense that there could be peace and happiness available to all of us if we did the right thing.
So these Lojong teachings, they’ve turned that very old habit just right upside down, and they say: go right into the difficulty of your life. What I’ll be giving you is instruction on how to do that. But go right into the center of the pain of your life and realize that in doing that is a path to enlightenment.
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