Sunday, May 4, 2008

Good Life Good Death - A great book by Gehlek Rimpoche

I read this book during my two weeks of late night and early morning bliss in Pune. What a wonderful book! He is one of the great teachers of Buddhism in the west. He was brought up in an upper-crest Tibetan family belonging to the 13th Dalai Lama and had to undergo the harsh life of the formal training of an incarnate lama. In 1959 he escaped with the current Dalai Lama to India. In this book he discusses reincarnation, life and death but what I found most compelling was his discussion about emotions like anger, patience, kindness, jealousy, pride and ego and how the connect to both our past as well as our future in life after life. I read about Buddhism as a kid but never explored more about it till I started reading this book.

Rimpoche says emotions like anger will bother you much more in your future life and at the time of your death than any physical problem. The mind goes with you but the body stays. This is very eye opening. He says emotions change the mind and they pop into the mind suddenly. The inner mind is pure, he calls it the natural mind. When you encounter the natural mind, it is a relaxing feeling - much to the like of what Guru BKS Iyengar talks about what yoga asanas can do for you in your journey to the inner mind.

So when emotions like Anger pop up our inner mind is clouded. It goes from a clear transparent mind, to red, cloudy and disturbed. It creates tremendous negativity around us and others around us. The older we get, the more we tend to hang on to such negative emotions, because trying to bring positive emotions in replacement is a struggle. We have over the years trained our mind with negative emotions. They may give us temporary relief but long term it is a recipe for destruction. But like anything these emotions are impermanent and we just have strive to get rid of these emotions. Rimpoche also says that such problems we face today, the emotional problems, the fears, anxieties are nothing but delusion. We have to work with such delusions to overcome them. We cannot make a deal with delusions - that's like making a deal with the devil. We have to work to overcome them.

Anger is very expensive and it can cause hurt and harm. Unless we can counter it with patience it will cost one spiritually a tremendous amount of virtue. Anger impacts the future tremendously. He says like fire anger consumes a lot of fuel and this fuel is created by positive virtues. Positive virtue take a lot of time, thinking and sacrifice. One moment of anger can destroy that. Anger is also addictive. Once it becomes a habit it can effortlessly pop out, like a toast from a toaster. It may give us temporary relief, but it has destroyed a life long work of positive karma which will take a lifetime to recreate.

Buddha says

There is no error greater than hatred, And nothing mightier than patience.
So I strive in every day to learn patience

Rimpoche's words are deep, compelling and striking but simple to understand. The message is so clear - Anger is the cause of most human destruction in this world. By practicing yoga, I have learnt more patience and I am less inclined to get negative emotions take over me. It is not possible to completely eliminate anger from your life, but by working on positive emotions you can detract it. I work on it every day through my own tumultuous life. I try my best to pass on positive emotions to my children and remind them that anger is not the way to deal with things. Its interesting to see how anger and kindness pops into kids. Kindness, compassion and understanding are virtues we need to pass on daily to our children and re-enforce them, so they will not become addicted to Anger when they grow up. Anger along with our mind will carry on to our next life. I would highly suggest reading this book - angry or not!

May peace, love, patience and kindness be the center of your lives.


The Yogi

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