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The Biggest Problem on Earth

   You are so fortunate being able to put much effort of body, speech and mind into seeking inner reality, your true nature. When you check how you have spent most of your life, you can see how fortunate you are having the chance to make this search even once. So fortunate! I'm not just making it up, "Oh, you're so good," trying to make you feel proud. It's true. However, to really discover that all human problems, physical and mental, come from attachment, is not an easy job. It takes much time.

   For example, if you're having difficulty at a meditation course, you might start thinking about home: your warm house, your comfortable bed, chocolate cake. You remember all these nice things. Then your ego and attachment get to work, "Oh, I don't know about this course. I'd be better off at home. At least there I know I can enjoy myself." But we all know what's going to happen when you get there. Still, attachment follows your ego's view, "My bed is so good, I'll be so comfortable back home; my family is there, I can relax and do whatever I feel like, I'll be free. Here I'm not free and I have to try to be serious. Anyway, my serious mind doesn't seem to be functioning, so I might as well leave." Your dualistic attachment kicks in, telling you so much stuff, convincing you until you say, "Yes, yes, yes" and leave.

   So then you get home, and you're sitting in your room, and you check up. How silly! Nothing's new. There's no place on earth where you're guaranteed to find satisfactory enjoyment. Don't think Tibet must be a fantastic place, a paradise where everything is pleasure. Never! Never! Since dissatisfaction and attachment inevitably come with this body and mind, your samsaric mandala of dissatisfaction accompanies you wherever you go. Even if you leave your own country and go to a cave in the mountains, attachment comes along. You can't leave it back home.

   Trying to face your problems is far more worthwhile than trying to run away from them without understanding their root. You've been that way before; it's not a new trip. It's the same old trip. You go, you change, you go, you change, on and on like that. In this life alone you've taken so many attachment tops.

   With effort, everything is possible. In order to attain the realization of indestructible, everlasting peace, you have to have an indestructible mind for training. Realizations don't come without your training your mind the right way. First you have to make the determination, "For such a long time I have been servant to the two mental departments of attachment and ego, trying to please them. But in fact, they are my greatest enemy, the root of all my problems, the destroyers of my peace and enjoyment." You have to understand how these two minds occupy and control your internal world.

   According to Lord Buddha's teachings, as long as you don't realize that your real enemy is within you, you will never recognize that the mind of attachment is the root of all the problems your body and mind experience. All your worries, your depression, everything comes from that. Until you do recognize that, even though you might occasionally have an hour's good concentration, it never lasts. If, however, you do see the psychological origin of your problems and understand the nature of attachment and how it works to cause aggression, desire and hatred, your mind becomes very powerful.

   When you're in a peaceful environment, you think, "Oh, I'm so peaceful, my meditation is so good, I have such good realizations." But when you're out shopping in the street or in a supermarket and people bump into you, you freak out; because you're not sitting in meditation but walking around, your mind is completely uncontrolled. If, however, if you understand the psychology of attachment and how it lies at the root of your various reactions, you will not freak out easily and will really be able to control your mind, no matter where you go or who you're with.

   This is not just some philosophical theory, either. It is really true, based on living experience. In fact, not only Buddhism, but all religions recognize the shortcomings of attachment. Even worldly people talk about its drawbacks. But, you know, even though we say the words, "Attachment this, attachment that," we don't really recognize it as the biggest problem on earth.

   Therefore, what I'm saying is, it would be wonderful if you could recognize that your own attachment is the cause of every single problem that you experience. Problems with your husband, wife, children, society, authorities, everybody; having a bad reputation; your friends not liking you; people talking badly about you; your hating your teacher, your lama or your priest; all this truly comes from your own attachment. You really check up.

   We Westerners always have to blame something external when things go wrong. "I'm not happy, so I'd better change this." We're always trying to change the world around us instead of recognizing that it's our own attachment that we have to change.

   Just take a simple example. When someone hurts you by telling you that you're greedy, although you blame the person for how you feel, the hurt actually comes from your attachment. First of all, people, perhaps even your parents or your spouse, don't like your attachment-driven behavior, so they complain, "Oh, you're so greedy," hurting your ego. And then, instead of accepting their pointing out your selfish behavior, your attachment to always being right, perfect, causes you angrily to reject what they say. The fact that your ego, your wrong-conception mind, cannot accept criticism is itself a big problem: your ego wants you to be right all the time, and your attachment creates its own philosophy of never listening to advice, no matter who gives it, closing off your mind. It is very important that you learn to deal with these problems in the best possible way.

    ~~Lama Yeshe

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