In Buddhism, in Dharma, it talks about selflessness. It talks about the non-cherishing mind. Because we are very accustomed to cherishing ourselves, to have this self-cherishing point of view, which we don’t realize now, but it causes a lot of suffering. In the long run it causes a lot of suffering.
And we don’t want to suffer, do we? I mean, who wants to suffer? Maybe some masochist but their suffering is still pleasure so it’s not really suffering, right? It is a different type of concept of suffering. So, I don’t even think a masochist wants to suffer because their suffering is different from ours. But still it’s the same idea of pain or happiness.
So, nobody really wants to suffer but we make the conditions to suffer all the time. It’s a little bit like the example, I like the example, does anyone know Pema Chodron? I went to one of her talks, which I found very interesting, very helpful. And she was talking about one of the examples of the monkeys in India; how they capture the monkeys in India, the monkey traps. Do you know how they capture the monkeys in India? It’s very interesting.
They have these coconuts with a hole inside and they put candies or goodies inside the coconut. The hole is just big enough for them to put their hand inside. But once they grab the candy and make a fist, they can’t take it out anymore. So, they are holding the candy; sometimes they really believe they can run away with the candy. So, when the hunters come, and they are scared for their life. Some of them even have two coconuts in their hands, two candies; some only one candy, some two candies. Greedier, right?
So, they really think they can run away with the two candies, they really believe that. And they will not let go. I don’t think any of the monkeys let go of the candy, literally. And they will try hard to try to run and try to climb the trees, but they can’t because they are handicapped. Maybe even some have four candies, I don’t know.
So, the hunters come and capture the monkeys. And then the monkeys must spend the rest of their lives in the hands of the hunters, maybe in the circus or as meat for food. I don’t know, but either way they have a pretty bad time. This is because they thought that they could really get away with the candy, and they did not want to let go of the candy, because if they let go of the candy than they can take out their hand and then they can run away.
So, this is a little bit like a metaphor of samsara. OK.
The concept of samsara according to Dharma or Buddhism or the Buddha’s teachings, is the wheel of life. It’s a never-ending story, where we are not able to escape from suffering and the cycle of this kind of way of being born and dying and being reborn again. Always being stuck in this kind of duality, this kind of concept of me, attachment, fear, misery, suffering. And somehow, we are stuck there in life after life, and sometimes we even go backwards. We devolve, so we create the cause to be reborn as sentient beings who create more bad karma.
So, going back to samsara. We are stuck in samsara also through the karma and lifetimes. And one of the reasons we are stuck in samsara is because of attachment, right? So, the monkey example is very good because it is a little bit like that metaphor. We can let go of attachment, we can let go of that, but we don’t want to. It is too juicy. You know pleasure or happiness, the concept of happiness, which is temporary, it is not stable.
I mean if happiness really were stable, if it really existed the way we think that it does, it would be a state of mind. We would always be happy. But it is up and down, up and down. In a way, it makes it more interesting maybe, but at the same time, it makes it very difficult. But also, thanks to that, it makes us think, and desire to be free from samsara, because, for example, like the gods.
There are many different types of gods, the god realms. Some gods live up to ten thousand years. These are the theories, but they say some gods live up to ten thousand years, in another dimension, in another place. So, when you create certain karma you create the cause to be reborn as a god, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good thing. I mean, of course, you live for ten thousand years with no sickness, no suffering, total pleasure every day, all the time, just enjoying, good smells, good food, good views, pleasure, physical, everything, amazing all the time for ten thousand years.
The thing is that at the end of the ten thousand years; they have exactly ten thousand years, depending on the level of the gods, some have less, and some have more. But in that realm, it would be ten thousand years. So that is just an example I am using. At the end of those ten thousand years, let’s say the last couple months maybe of their life span, their body starts to smell a little bit, you know.
So, the other gods smell it. Then somehow, they don’t want to recognize it; that they too are impermanent in that way and that one day they will also die, and their life span will finish. So, they decide to ignore those gods, the gods that are starting to smell a little bit, they ignore them. So, they become kind of outcasts; nobody wants to talk to them, nobody wants to look at them, they don’t exist anymore. So they are, for the last months or years, I’m not sure, they spend in solitariness.
And because they are gods, they can be able to see their future lives and they have certain realizations also. So maybe after ten thousand years they have spent all their good karma. It’s like having money in your bank, and then you spend all the money in the bank and you have the last euros or dollars, and then you’re like, “OK, what am I going to do now? I am going to have to start working again.”
So, in that case, maybe they will see that they are going to be reborn as pigs or they see a family of pigs living in a dump, like dirt, in dirty conditions. The kind of suffering they have, the ignorance, the greed and attachment is so strong. You know, some pigs don’t see the sky until they die. The Tibetan saying is, “Don’t be like a pig, that you only see the sky when you die.” Which is kind of true sometimes because pigs are always looking at the ground looking for food, right? So, they don’t really look up. If they did, they would see the sky and be like, “Wow, that’s amazing.”
Anyway, so these gods that are dying, the amount of suffering for those gods at that time is so big, because they have the ability to see their future life and they have the knowledge to understand that they spent their good karma, they’ve enjoyed a lot, and now it is time to suffer.
So, their suffering is so big. And then that’s when the regret comes, “Oh, I didn’t practice Dharma. I didn’t create the condition for a future life to have the potential or the possibility to be able to practice Dharma or to create a good cause, helping other people, you know?”
So, we humans have that potential, that opportunity, because we suffer. So, it’s good, we can use the suffering in order to make the decision to say, “Oh, I want to do something about this.”