02 April 2009

Sophocles got this half right, a Buddhist perspective

The keenest sorrow is to recognize ourselves as the sole cause of all our adversities.
- Sophocles

It is not we, however, who are the cause, it is the negativity that our past actions have caused. By making the implicit distinction 'my mind,' 'my body,' we show that in our profound awareness we already know that the sense of "I" is not the same thing as the surface of our mind. On some level we understand that our mind is afflicted with delusions and inappropriate mental factors, which, if we could eliminate them, would leave our mind pure and happy. Thus, the realization that it is our own actions which are the cause of our "adversities" should not be "the keenest sorrow," but rather a cause for joy: the beginning of wisdom, in fact, because if we once realize that it is the afflictions of our mind that cause all our suffering, we are already on the path that leads to the elimination of sorrow for ourselves and others.

Part of this path is the realization that not only is the sense of "I" not the same as our mind, it is not actually a real thing at all. Rather, it itself is a delusion which needs to be overcome. But that's a deep subject for another time.

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