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Lions Roar : November 2014
Painting of the Bhavacakra (Wheel of Life) With permission of the Royal Ontario Museum © ROM. B uddhISm uSeS a lot of fancy terms to describe the cause of suffering. ego, karma, dualistic mind, the three poisons—all these things that keep us trapped on the wheel called samsara. But they all come down to one simple english word: habit. Freeing ourselves from habitual patterns is the entire point of Buddhist meditation. We’re all painfully familiar with the harm caused by our habit- ual ways of thinking, feeling, acting, and relating with others. Buddhist practice definitely helps us with these. But our habits of mind go even deeper, to our very perception of our- selves and our world. this is what the great thinley Norbu Rinpoche called our “reality habit.” it is the fundamental and mistaken habit of mind that creates samsara. When did we develop these habits? as adults, as children, in previous lives? Perhaps they have no beginning, but they do have an end. that’s called enlightenment, when we liberate ourselves fully from the painful wheel of habitual patterns and experience the mind’s natural state, which is free and spontaneous. as we learn in this special section, we can free ourselves from habitual patterns at any moment, in any situation. When we do, we improve our own life and the lives of others in many ways. Finally, when we have awak- ened from habit altogether, we are called a buddha. — m elVIn mCleod Special Section Get Off the Wheel of Habit SHAMBHALA SUN NoveMBer 2014 40