5

N. D. Walsch claimed in one of his books that at the point in time, when a person "switches gears" to a higher level of consciousness, it frequently happens that events occur, which you perceive as negative. I don't remember the exact wording, but AFAIR he wrote that when some major obstacle occurs it may be that the universe is testing - do you really want to achieve a particular outcome (then you will continue in spite of the obstacle) or do you just think that you want it, but in reality want something different (in this case you give up) ?

I experienced situations, which support this hypothesis on several occasions:

  1. Once I went to a very powerful retreat. I needed to travel several thousand kilometers by plane and several trains. One train got late, I had to spend a lot of time in the train station filled with drunk (and potentially violent) soccer fans and garbage, then another train had problems because there was a suicidal girl walking on the tracks. According to the train guard, there was a fight on one of the trains and they had to call the police. Those soccer fans were everywhere and they left smell of vomit in almost all train cars. When I arrived at my hotel, nobody was there, my mobile phone ceased to work and I had to go to a nearby bakery to call the receptionist and check in. I've been to that country before and all these things aren't typical (didn't occur in my past travels with such intensity). The retreat was indeed life-changing.
  2. It happens quite frequently that a rain starts exactly at the same time, when I realize something important. Same with Skype: Often the connection is lost precisely at the moment, when I or the other person says something important/profound.
  3. Often, I experience some major conflict with other people (incl. threatening them to call the police, if they don't stop), and then, some time thereafter, I have either a productivity peak or some important insight.

Does Buddhism in general and Diamond Way in particular say anything about

  1. whether emotionally intensive situations (usually unpleasant) are signs of growth and
  2. how to get most benefit from them (other than suck it up and persevere) ?
  • 2
    Are you referring to the Diamond cutter sutra? My first reaction to this question was to say "Try not to make everything about you." Also beware of linking events like the weather or dropped connections with some type of unfolding destiny. Correlation != causation. – hellyale Dec 23 '15 at 14:09
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    @hellyale No, I don't refer to the Diamond cutter sutra. – DP_ Dec 23 '15 at 14:40
7

There is a saying in Zen:

When we love them flowers wither; when we hate them creepers bloom.

Meaning, the more you like something, the more your mind gets sensitive to losing that. And the more you hate something, the more painfully aware you become of its unwanted existence.

In Vajrayana Buddhism we usually do not see external events as reward or punishment. That would be too dualistic, almost like in Christianity or Hinduism. But we do see everything as training opportunity. So if some problems occur, we are like: "great! now I can practice even more!" In this sense the more you advance - the bigger are the challenges. Not because the world tests you but because you push yourself, you raise your own bar.

When you raise your bar, you become more aware of the imperfections. There is another saying: "Buddha's heart is sensitive like an eye, feels strongly even a tiny hair".


That said, for beginner students attachments always manifest as obstacles. Whenever you have a strong attachment you can be sure you will encounter major problems that go against that attachment. And the stronger the attachment, the bigger the problems will be. Especially if the circumstances are very important, like one-in-lifetime events as wedding, major retreat etc. If you let go of attachment, it's almost feels like you "pass the test" - and break through to something new. But if you hold on to your attachment, it almost always fruits as some real-life painful problem - and because you did not drop the attachment you keep going in circles. This is how it usually works.

What's important to understand though, none of this is objective. It's not like the universe conspires against you - or wants to help your practice. Rather, the world you find yourself in, is always a manifestation of your "energy", your state of mind - often at subconscious level.

So, emotionally intensive situations are not as much signs of growth as they are signs of attachments - but certainly as you grow you start encountering more and more of your hidden attachments, so in this sense it's a good sign.

How to get the most benefit of these situations: is to never objectify them ("those damn soccer fans!") -- and always try to identify your attachment and drop it. When you drop your attachment you will see all kinds of magic happen, like demons turning into dharma-friends etc.

1

whether emotionally intensive situations (usually unpleasant) are signs of growth

It is said by some that

Suffering is the broom that sweeps away suffering

so it can be viewed as a kind of growth, in some situations, yes.

how to get most benefit from them

by "them" I assume you mean emotionally intensive situations in that case the way to get the most out of them is maintain the paramitas of patience and mindfulness.

How you react to these situations, and how aware you are to your reactions and thoughts during them is key here. If your emotions get the better of you, then it is not growth, though you can learn and grow from the experience.

If you maintain your composure and are able to navigate the situation(s) without losing your cool, growth is occurring. Especially if the situation might have caused you to lose your cool in the past.

  • William Butler Yeats -- Ribh considers Christian Love insufficient - "Why should I seek for love or study it? It is of God and passes human wit. I study hatred with great diligence, For that's a passion in my own control, A sort of besom that can clear the soul Of everything that is not mind or sense. Why do I hate man, woman or event? That is a light my jealous soul has sent. From terror and deception freed it can Discover impurities, can show at last How soul may walk when all such things are past, How soul could walk before such things began." – user2341 Nov 12 '17 at 0:38

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