This is the second way to enter the path. Having established ourselves in the practice through principle, we have four ways to enter the path through practice. The first is the practice of requiting injury or (Red Pine) suffering injustice.
I don’t like this practice. It requires me to give up my self-rightness. You read that correctly. I am frequently right. And when I’m not, I use all my left-brain power of data crunching to baffle-gab you with statistics so that you can’t deny that – at the very least – I am a formidable foe. Some time back a friend sent me this amazing photo. It pretty much sums up my reaction to being unjustly treated. Don’t you just love it? I know you’re not like that at all. You probably meet injustice exactly the way Bodhidharma says you should, by letting go of – unrequiting – the injury.
Actually, of the two translations, I do prefer Jeffrey Broughton’s version to Red Pine’s “suffering injustice.” It feels less like I’d run the risk of being a doormat. And in that little snippet is the truth of needing to defend madly against injustice (perceived or real). There is a fear that if I let this one in, a legion of injustices will rampage through the door.
However, to face the injustice, to look deeply into its causes and conditions reveals things about me that I may not want to know. Bodhidharma teaches that the cause of present injustice lies in the myriad unknowable actions I partook of in the past. I’m not much of an adherent to the theory of direct karmic consequences but it is worth while reflecting on the ways in which I was one of the motley characters in the drama of my ego’s demise.
The sutra says: “When you meet suffering, do not be sad. Why? Because you comprehend the underlying reason behind it.”
That opens up many doors of discernment, doesn’t it? The underlying reasons can be as simple as blind dumb luck or being in the wrong place at the right time to learn a lesson about mindfulness. In my case, it’s more likely being delusional about the level of power I hold that seems to confer a sense of invincibility or rightness to my actions.
When (the above) thought arises, one is yoked with principle.
You remember “principle” from yesterday’s post: all beings are “identical to the True Nature” and we are blinded to this by the dust storms in our heart; that is supposed to mitigate our choices of the wrong-headed path. However, it’s probably more likely that because we are blinded to the reality of our interconnections, we act in ways that create injustice and suffering. Regardless, the arising of a perception of injustice is a powerful mindful bell of this reality of interconnectedness.
The take-away lesson is that if I don’t learn this the good karma way, I will get a chance to learn it the tough karma way.