There Is No Suffering 97

Sentient beings speak of attainment in practice because they think there is wisdom to gain. The examples of the saints are beyond their experience. But the more you practice, the more you will realize that you are not so much gaining anything, as you are leaving behind afflictions, attachments, and self-centeredness. The more you let go, the less there is to attain. When you reach true liberation, you will have left behind everything—there is no longer anything to attain, nor anyone who attains.

How do we contemplate “no wisdom and no attainment?” When we have afflictions or vexations, we lack wisdom. When we act or speak without wisdom, and we can realize and reflect on it, that clarity and recognition is itself contemplation. As our clarity increases, our thoughts and conduct will change, and our afflictions will lessen. The steadier and stronger our contemplation, the less self-centered and more considerate of others we become.

Our afflictions may take on many guises, and can include both pleasure and vexation. For example, feeling tired or energetic is natural and is not in itself an affliction. If however, we crave the energetic state and worry about the tired state that is vexation. Being hungry is a physical condition, and eating to satisfy your hunger is also natural. But desiring a gourmet dinner and eating beyond the limits of satisfaction is vexation. Whenever greed, anger, or delusion is involved, there is affliction.

Bodhisattvas help sentient beings, but attach neither to their own actions nor to sentient beings. We are not bodhisattvas and so cannot do this, but we can cultivate this aspiration by emulating them. A good place to start is with your own families. Parents look after and help their children, but they are strongly attached to them and to what they do. This causes vexations for both parents and children. Through cultivation, parents can learn to help their children and at the same time not be overly attached to them.