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Lojong 1.d.) First, learn the preliminaries (4 of 4 parts)

1. Preliminaries (1a - d)

1) First, learn the preliminaries. (a. Appreciate life & hearing the Buddhadharma, b. Know the reality of death, c. Accept Karma, d. Accept the inevitability of pain)

This is the fourth of four admonitions defining the preliminaries:

d. Accept the inevitability of pain

In the Practical Dharma a distinction is made between pain and suffering.  Pain is inevitable in life.  This is an attempt to reconcile the statements that the purpose of the dharma is to provide release from [suffering] and one of the vehicles for this is the recognition that [suffering] is inevitable.  The slightly restated version is:

The purpose of the dharma is to provide release from suffering and one of the vehicles for this is the recognition that pain (in many forms) is inevitable.

The Five Remembrances

Everyone and everything changes

I will grow old

This body will know sickness

There is no escape from death

All I have are my actions

Suffering is that additional burden I bring on myself related to the demand that things be different than they are.  This is not to suggest I give up and make no effort to improve the world through my actions.  (In my work I'm fortunate to be able to provide service as a psychologist and healthcare administrator, and each of us can make a difference through our best efforts (see the post just below.)  It is the DEMAND that things be different than they are that causes suffering.  

How often do we hear, "I can't believe he did that" or "I can't stand it when that happens".   I will not burden you with the details, but it is clear the speakers in these cases are saying / thinking things that are incongruent with what each knows to be reality.  (i.e. He does this all the time, and I frequently "stand for it".)

The traditional cognitive behavioral approach is to argue with these thoughts and hopefully to use the power of logic to overcome them.  This sometimes works, but a better approach is two steps;  1) simply recognize, "this happened" and even "that's just a thought I had about what happened" and then 2) accept it happened and let it go.  (That is to say, not to accept that it is right and just, merely to accept that it happened.)

The Four Noble Truths

Life is suffering

The cause: craving and attachment

Release comes from letting go

Through the Eight-fold Path.

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