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Lions Roar : January 2003
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2003 75 seeing. Just as the root of the Buddha’s psycholog- ical teaching is that we will never find happi- ness in trying to control what cannot be con- trolled, the root of his moral teaching is empathy—understanding that all beings want to be happy and that suffering hurts others in the same way that it hurts us. We use our mindfulness practice to notice our feelings and to understand them. Through that we can see very clearly that if we are immersed in tremendous anger, it is great suffering. It is a state of burning, of contradiction and isola- tion, of separation and fear. We see this rela- tive nature of anger as well as its more ulti- mate, impermanent, insubstantial, transpar- ent nature. On the relative level, it is painful; it hurts. We can learn not to consider anger as bad or evil. We don’t have to reject the anger or reflect or condemn ourselves for it, but rather we can feel compassion for the pain of it. And then we understand that when others are engulfed by anger they are suffering, just the way we suffer when we’re lost in that state. This quality of empathy is also the basis of modern psychological thought on the devel- opment of morality. We learn not to hurt others because we understand how it feels to be hurt. If others are seen as objects rather than as sensitive beings, it’s quite easy to harm. But if we understand, from within, the pain that others would experience from our actions, then there arises a clear and true sense of morality. Empathy and nonseparation are the most fundamental aspects of loving-kindness. This is what we need to recognize as loving-kind- ness: a radical seeing of our nonseparateness, knowing our oneness, our indivisibility. When we see through ignorance and arrive at the heart of our interconnectedness, it is as if we had been living in a bad dream, and our anguish and sorrow were born of simply not seeing. From clear seeing arises the uncon- trived loving-kindness that is the truth of our bodhisattva nature. ♦ Reprinted from Voices of Insight, edited by Sharon Salzberg, with permission of Shambhala Publications.