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Practical Companion – 5

Thank you for reading. Until here, we have discussed 3 out of the 4 mental afflictions that can make us turn our back against Buddhism. Previously, we discussed craving, aversion and anger. The last factor that rounds up everything is ignorance.

Ignorance

Buddhist practice is a systematic approach toward enlightenment. Therefore, the major hindrance to Buddhist practice is ignorance. It starts with misunderstanding the goal of Buddhism. This will create a lot of frustration for practitioners because it is like beginning a journey without knowing which direction to take.

What is enlightenment and how do we know if enlightenment exist?

Enlightenment(a.k.a Ultimate Happiness) is the absence of craving, aversion, and ignorance in our minds. We do not need the ability to walk on water to understand the truth in this statement. In other words, Buddhist spirituality need not include the supernatural.

If we sit and contemplate the above, it becomes apparent how craving, aversion, and ignorance cause various sufferings in our lives. For example, the inability to control our urge for food can cause various physical and mental ailments. Thus, we understand how craving leads to suffering.

Likewise, aversion towards food also creates physical and mental ailments.

Being ignorant of the above 2 problems causes one to be oblivious to one’s problem until it is too late.

The above are simple examples that can be easily understood. As we progress in our Buddhist training, we acquire deeper insights and new wisdom.

Can we reduce our craving, aversion, and ignorance? Absolutely! All we need is wisdom (correct views and understanding) and practice to “re-wire” our minds. As we practice Buddhism, we experience the lessening of craving, aversion, and ignorance in our minds. Therefore, we become confident that completely eliminating these 3 afflictions in our minds is possible. More importantly, we also experience happiness when we successfully reduce craving, aversion, and ignorance. Thus, we know with certainty that our Buddhist practices lead to ultimate happiness. It is as simple as that! No supernatural powers are needed.

The above may sound logical and simple to you. If so, congratulation! That means you possess the inherent wisdom to perceive Buddha Dharma. That means you have good spiritual karma. Unfortunately, majority of the people cannot understand or see the logic in the above.

Most people are attached to their current life and its material enjoyment. I need more money, more luxury, more indulgences for my sensory perceptions, etc. For example, some people are willing to spend a fortune on their home theatre sound system. Others enjoy the feeling of victory and triumph over others. Some are addicted to plastic surgery? Their minds are constantly lost in thoughts over their next planned acquisition or conquest. In that manner, they are sucked into their “purpose of life”

On the other hand, a Buddhist understands the pointlessness of those indulgences. He understands those indulgences to be temporary gratifications only. Just like an addiction to drugs, one only craves more and more, creating more dissatisfactions along the way. More suffering.

Therefore, knowing the difference between Ultimate Happiness and temporary gratification is wisdom. Possessing wisdom will ensure that we do miss our goal of Ultimate Happiness. But that is just one of the many levels of wisdom. Buddhism covers a wide spectrum.

Some people are fearful of death and the unknown after that. Buddhism teaches the Truth of Samsara. Understanding that truth prevents us from missing the goal of Nirvana for a temporal existence in one of the heavens.

From this, we can catch a glimpse of the limitless depth of the Buddha Dharma. There is much to explore and learn.

To continue deepening our insights, we need to learn from more advanced practitioners. We can also read and contemplate various teachings. With wisdom, we can correctly identify sufferings and the cause of those sufferings. Only then can we apply the correct method to cure ourselves of those afflictions.

May all be well and happy.

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