July 21, 2014
TURNING AWAY FROM SAMSARA
When we turn away from samsara, we stop blaming external situations for the state of our mind, and we begin to use the Buddha’s teachings in order to take responsibility for our own well-being. We reorient the mind away from causes and conditions that create suffering. This does not mean that we turn away from the suffering that humans create, such as warfare, poverty, prejudice, slaughter, or environmental destruction. We do not turn away or become passive, impartial spectators. However, we need to assess our strategies for engagement. Many well-meaning people assume that inflaming passions, especially anger, is a justifiable, necessary, even beneficial response to injustice. They often assume that anger is an automatic and inherent response to injustice, in the same way that exasperation is an inherent response to waiting at the airport. But it is not. Anger does not allow us to see clearly, so the good intentions of people engaged in trying to help others can actually be hindered by their own negativity. Anger does not allow us to act with true compassion, because the mind of anger keeps us trapped inside ourselves. Turning away from samsara means figuring out how to function with an open, clear mind, not a mind shut down and incapacitated by destructive emotions.