There Is No Suffering 79

Fundamental ignorance, the first link, is the basis of all afflictions— it is the basic confusion as to how things are and operate. Due to this fundamental confusion, all kinds of afflictive emotions arise within us. Ordinarily, people do not think of cutting off the root afflictions. They only think of getting rid of their current sufferings and misfortunes. They do not want the suffering, but they ignore the afflictions—greed, aversion, and delusion-that create the problems in the first place.

Buddhadharma speaks of cause and consequence. To avoid dire consequences, one must not create their causes in the first place. Therefore, correct contemplation begins with understanding cause before proceeding to consequence. Start with contemplating the root cause, fundamental ignorance, because it is the basis of all emotional afflictions. To break up a gang of thieves, catch the leader. After that, it is easy to deal with the followers. Likewise, if you truly understand fundamental ignorance, it is easier to deal with other afflictions.

Contemplation of Fundamental Ignorance

Fundamental ignorance is just a name for the source of afflictions. If we had no afflictions, it is meaningless to speak of fundamental ignorance. It is like untying the knot on a balloon to discover what is inside, and discovering that it is air, just like what is outside. There is nothing special about it. There is only attachment to what is good, bad, yours, or mine. Attachment is an expression of fundamental ignorance. One can say that attachment is the balloon. If you puncture the balloon , the air is still there. All that is gone is the balloon’ s functioning as attachment. Hence, because of attachment, fundamental ignorance appears to be always present. Otherwise, there is no such thing.