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Lions Roar : July 2015
2. Suffering is the inability of the mind to accommodate these changing circumstances. 3. Peace is possible. 4. It is possible to systematically cultivate, through lifestyle practices and mental training exercises, a mind that accom- modates changing circumstances wisely, avoids confusion, and does not suffer. There is a story from the Buddha’s life—in fact the story of his enlightenment—that I feel addresses the challenge of being a layperson in modern times, or indeed, a person at any time: On the night of his enlightenment, the Buddha-to-be sat down to meditate, vowing to discover the cause of suffering. He sur- rounded himself with a strong field of balanced equanimity that he maintained through steadfast feelings of goodwill. The Buddha-to-be found himself attacked by representations of armed assailants that could have easily aroused fear and anger in him. But he remained poised, safe in the field of his own bene- volence. Next, he was faced with seductive, erotic images. But again, his calm steadiness kept him unmoved by such temptations. He had experienced firsthand the mind’s capacity to not become confused by stress. Because he remained unconfused, he was able to understand three liberating insights about the nature of every experience. They are known by Buddhists as the three marks of existence: 1. Everything is temporary; experiences are continually changing. This insight makes difficult situations less painful and frightening because they can be thought of in the context of “This, too, will pass.” 2. Every experience has the potential for startling the mind into confused resistance, which manifests as tension, or mental suffering. The mind thinks, “I need more of this right now,” or “I need less of this right now,” rather than, “This is what is hap- pening now. Let’s see what happens next,” which re-balances the mind from its brief suffering state into equanimity. 3. Everything is contingent. External events or internal expe- riences like moods or thoughts arise for reasons. Nothing hap- pens without having been caused by something and without impacting future events. PHOTOSBYJULIEDUBOSE The photos in this special section are by Julie DuBose and Hèlen A.Vink, and are examples of the Miksang approach to contemplative photography. See more contemplative photography at lionsroar.com/author/seeing-fresh/ SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 55