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Volume 5 no 3

What Buddhism means to me

Looking Inwards

Although I have embraced Buddhism and attended many Dharma classes, I did not realize that I have not really understood the Buddha's teachings until I participated in a discussion on "Who has tied me down?" I suddenly realized that I have not put what I have learned in Buddhism into practice.

I used to search externally for someone else to put the blame on whenever I was faced with adversities. Since that discussion, I began to practise self-awareness and to search within myself for answers. Looking inwards, I saw that it is my own ignorance and self-serving habits that are really tying me down. These are like oil stains on the kitchen stove that had over time become thickened and really difficult to remove. Oily and sticky, it is no wonder that nobody likes them!

Because of ignorance, I committed unwholesome deeds unknowingly. When things did not work out for me, I blame others. Letting my temper fly became a habit. Not surprisingly, people are repulsive towards me. Tension built up and I became even more ignorant. I realize now that these are causing me to suffer. I was always caught up with unimportant and worthless thoughts that do not benefit anyone. It is an undesirable habit that serves no purpose except creating unnecessary mental anguish. I spoke whenever I liked to, without sparing a thought for its consequence. Words leave my mouth like bullets. Sure enough, they hurt people frequently.

Looking inwards is indeed a powerful tool. I found my 'true self' when I looked inwards. An unenlightened or ignorant mind is prone to unwholesome actions, speech and thoughts. They bear unwholesome effects such as to be caught in the endless cycle of birth and death in the six realms. By maintaining awareness, I have a chance to check on my thoughts, speech or actions before I commit them. Awareness keeps me out of harm's way. I strongly believe that to untie or unchain ourselves, we need to start by cultivating awareness.


Copyright 2002.Jen Chen Buddhism Centre