Lesson
4

Facing Horror

1 of 3

Pleasure, pain, and neutral feelings are emphasized in Buddhist presentations because feelings are so crucial to how we react to persons and events. Since compassion is the wish that beings be free from pain and the causes of pain, it is important to recognize how much our own life and others' lives revolve around feelings.

The best practitioners are those who, with great enthusiasm, put their mind into every possible situation that they can think of.

If it is such a shock to imagine persons being cut by a saw, you can see how quickly we lose the mindset of equanimity or compassion. It is frightening: "Let me out of here! I don't want to see this!" Or it makes us angry: "What is this? What's going on here?" The best practitioners are those who, with great enthusiasm, put their mind into every possible situation that they can think of. They read descriptions of the hells and the difficulties of the hungry ghosts; they imagine themselves lying there—someone is drawing a line across them, getting the saw ready—and they generate the sense of fright they would have. Within that, they begin to transform their own feeling into compassion for the person who is attacking them. That removes a threshold of hatred. In order to do that, a practitioner has to have great enthusiasm for meditating on individual situations.

The Iron Grater

We want pleasure and do not want pain, but often we rush toward pain and away from pleasure. One horrible event has just ended and we're seeking a similar situation all over again.