Work with Emotional Patterns-Kleshas using Buddhist Tools and Prajna Teachings

This is what I know and also what I keep forgetting and so need to practice!  Why do I keep forgetting?  How do I keep allowing my… well, what the Buddhist call kleshas to affect me.  What are kleshas?  Essentially we could say emotions or one definition is “mental states that cloud the mind and manifest in unwholesome action”.  In the modern-day world we often hear them called “emotional patterns”.  Your patterns!  Right?  Your customary and habitual emotional responses.  Yeah, new ager’s want to deny those or push them away and not deal with them out in the open like this.  Here’s what I was writing about in the last blog about my “muggle” klesha.  This is from the writing of Lama Zopa Rinposhe; it is expressing what I wrote about–remembering the nature of emptiness and calling upon the praja/wisdom of the  prajnaparamita (emptiness).  Let’s go right to Rinposhe’s words:

Emptiness is a remedy for the foundation of all delusions—ignorance—so all the other delusions will disappear. The minute one meditates on emptiness, anger for example, will stop. Anger arises when you believe in the false I, false object—all this which does not exist. So when one meditates on emptiness of the self and other objects, there is no foundation for anger. This is the most powerful antidote. But if it arises again, it is because there is no continuation of the meditation; the meditation, the mindfulness, has stopped. The problem is to remember the technique. Once you remember the technique, it always works. When you don’t remember the technique, it is delayed and the delusion, anger and so forth, has already arisen and taken you over. — Lama Zopa

Some of our kleshas can be quite clever and convince us that we are justified and even egg us on to find those descriptive words — the one’s I used in my last blog were… well, there you see?  I’m being tested again to go to those words, reproduce them and once again the klesha pattern gets triggered and those old resentments and aversions become alive.  When that happens, I’ve taken many steps backwards or the Buddhist would say it is loosing merit.

What I do is use my blog to create space around the klesha and slow it down so that I have an opportunity to analyze it–dissect it, if you will.  I heard one lama say it is like creating speed bumps for an speeding out of control car (anger) to slow itself down.

Yeah, it can be like that for us—being overcome by emotions that get triggered from those old patterns.  For me it is the muggle who is my blessing because he gives me the opportunity to practice remaining awake and remembering emptiness helps me to diffuse the bomb of my klesha.  I can be quite indignant, irate and outraged by other sentient beings who, in my judgment and opinion, disrespect animals and nature.  Like with any emotional trigger that any of us experience, the pulse races, the face gets flushed and all those other responses happen but the progress that I’ve made over time is that I am able to catch it sooner and analyze myself and the situation and diffuse the bomb or not let the pattern reach bomb stages in the first place.  I let it go much quicker these days.

What helps me is to remember that the muggle in question and his/her actions or attitudes and so forth are simply ignorance, meaning lack of wisdom, knowledge or information.  I say this without being above or feeling superior in any way.  What evens the playing field in working with that type of klesha is to embrace the knowing that what motivates all sentient beings is that they are seeking happiness and trying to avoid their own suffering.

When I remember this, it helps me very much and then I begin to move my attitude toward compassion for the other, the one I name muggle and also for myself I feel compassion and this helps to transcend the experience, bringing me back to who I truly am.

This is the reason that Buddhism helps me, because of the awareness of mind that it encourages us to have–the practical reality of day-to-day living is acknowledged and the teachings are just as real and practical and grounded.

These are a few thoughts about my last blog and my muggle klesha for the record.  Maybe any reader who comes to this could benefit in some way by applying any wisdom found here to their own life–this is the intent.

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