The Great ‘I’

Last night Phakchok Rinpoche delivered a very clear lecture on “The Great I”. The key message was that it is our attachment to the ego that is the root cause of sufferings and wanderings in samsara. This is the heart of the Buddhist teaching, and Rinpoche delivered the talk in such a lively and forceful way that the message was pushed to the hearts and minds of the more than 300 people who gathered in the ballroom of the Tawana Hotel.

The event was one of the series of the Dharma events organized by the Tawana Hotel itself. I saw a lot of people who must have been coming on a regular basis, and my hunch was confirmed when it was announced that the event last night was the 39th the series of Dharma talk practice sessions that have taken place here. Rinpoche’s talk was preceded by a prayer and meditation session led by Phra Rajapatiphanmuni from Wat Prayuravongse. There is a close relationship between Wat Prayoon and the Tawana Hotel as both are very close to the Bunnag family. 

After the prayer and the meditation, Rinpoche went up on stage to deliver the lecture. He asked us to consider the sufferings that we all have. It could be jealousy, hatred, anger, depression, anxiety, whatever, but since there was an answer from the audience that anger mattered for them most Rinpoche focused on it. He asked us not to repress anger; that would only make us more susceptible to serious diseases, he said. Repressing anger does not make it go away; it merely increases the pressure. But to let it all out every time is not advisable either, because if you do that too often then it becomes an ingrained habit so you always overtly express anger every time, and then it could well become destructive.

The key is to let it happen and we then examine the anger or other negative emotions as they arise. We see how it stay for a while and then naturally we see them subside. Anger is but part of the overall nature of things. It arises; it stays and it goes. During the meditation we need to be aware of the goal of what we are doing the meditation for, which is to eliminate causes of sufferings. We could not eliminate everything at first, but we can chip away at it, bit by bit. We could watch the anger and see it as waves on a sea, or clouds in the sky. The key point is that we neither embrace the anger nor reject it. But we merely look at it as it happens. This sounds easy, but to some it may sound difficult. At least you have to try, said Rinpoche.

So the talk went on for about an hour. The audience were thrilled. I was fortunate to be a part, so did Krisadawan, as one of the interpreters of the talk. More will follow.



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