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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 28 and feel that there is a real “me” here, and that I am the most important “me” in the world—my happiness matters most, and my suffering must be stopped first. We create an image of a person and then ob- sess about living in accord with this fab- rication: we pretend to be who we think we are. Yet even at a superficial level, many of our thoughts about ourselves are incor- rect: we are not inherently ugly, beautiful, talented, inadequate, lazy, stupid, inept, or any of the other charming or disparaging qualities we attribute to ourselves. Not only do we believe that there is a real, enduring “me” who is in control (or should be in control) of our body, mind, and life, we also believe that other people and objects similarly have some findable essence. We trust that things exist in the way they appear to. Thus we believe that someone who appears to be an enemy is inherently despicable and dangerous. We fight to protect our possessions as “mine.” Due to the ignorance that imputes a solid and unchanging essence onto selfless and changing phenomena, a host of afflictive emotions arises, and we fall under the sway of craving, fear, hostility, anxiety, re- sentment, arrogance, and laziness. By being mindful of the opposites of the four distortions—impermanence, unsatisfactoriness, unattractiveness, and selflessness—we clearly see the problems the four distortions cause, and a powerful wish to be free from them emerges. This is renunciation. This kind of mindfulness gives us courage and ability to oppose our habit- ual, self-centered ways. Looking around, we see that all other beings are just like us in wanting happiness and wishing to be free of suffering, and thus arises the altruistic intention to work for their benefit. Being mindful of the benefits of cherishing others opens our hearts to genuine love and compassion. Our deep interconnection with others gives rise to the intention to eliminate all obscu- rations from our minds and to develop our capabilities limitlessly—that is, to become a buddha—so that we can best benefit them. And that is how mindful- ness leads to liberation. ♦