Sunday, November 23, 2014

Removing Hurdles: On Working with the Greatest Defilements First

I have to admit that this new slogan gave me a pause at first.
Work with the greatest defilements first.
I read it three times and got a sinking feeling in my stomach. My immediate assumption was that it meant "tackle your biggest problems first." And I was worried that I wouldn't be able to live up to it. But I took a deep breath, steeling myself for the anticipated work, and turned to my research.

First, as always, I turned to Their translation, "Work on your strongest reactions first," also gave me pause... but for a very different reason. This sounded a lot more attainable. And the explanatory text put it into much better context for me:
"The strongest reactions generate the biggest imbalances in your being. You can't even see the subtle ones until the strong ones have been dismantled." 
Then I turned to Tricycle. (A quick aside: I may not always find help at UnfetteredMinds, but I really like the balance I get from visiting both sites.) Judy Lief's commentary made me feel a little less comfortable, but even more sure of the work I need to do. This passage in particular made me realize the need I have to keep this work, this study of lojong, in my life:
"At a deeper level, this slogan challenges us to analyze what really sets us back. We need to do so persistently enough to expose our core obstacles, to try to get to the root of what holds us down. It challenges to dig deeply enough to uncover our greatest defilements. And having done so, we need to stick with that defilement and keep working on it until we are free of it."
So it all had me thinking about how certain things - tasks, emotions, situations - are always major obstacles for me. I've tackled so much in the recent past, having learned how to make habits and break habits. Even still, I need to keep working, to keep vigilant and aware. Take my initial reaction to this slogan, or instance: I immediately jumped to the worst possible conclusion and assumed it would be a lot of hard work. But, after doing all my research, I remembered that bunny gif up there. I thought about how, once the hurdle was out of the way, things got so easy. I want to be that bunny.

And Lief's advice for putting this slogan into practice is definitely going to stay with me. She says, "What patterns of thought or habit do you have that block your development of wisdom and insight? What is your most consistent and frequent roadblock? Take some time to reflect on this and on how you might begin to work with it."

So that's what I'll be doing. Until next time, namaste and all that.

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