A student asks: How do we maintain stability, how do we manage these huge waves of sadness and happiness?

A student writes:

“In a world of samsara where everything is always shifting, where we cannot be sure of anything, where there is both horrific tragedy and great happiness and joy, how do we maintain stability, how do we manage these huge waves of sadness and happiness, where is the truth of these feelings?”

Lama Shenpen:

The feelings that change are the ones to let come and let go. The heart qualities do not change. Our nature is open and spacious – it doesn’t change. However much we close down and feel oppressed there is always, always that possibility of opening, of turning towards that pain and opening to it in the space of awareness.

Opening in that way is also a feeling – opening our heart is a feeling – the heart could always open any time because it is its nature. Closings down and despairing is also a possibility but it would be conditioned. You would have to work at it to keep yourself closed down and despairing – you would get tense or dull and not very happy.

But when we laugh and open out and relax we don’t need to work at being happy – it’s simply our nature to be sensitive and responsive and joyful actually. We don’t have to work at being joyful, we have to work at letting go of what we are holding on to that stops that joy manifesting.

We can work at trying to keep up a pretence of happiness but we know perfectly well that that is not true happiness and that is why it is such hard work. Samsara is hard work and yet still that Buddha Nature bursts through even in the most desperate of situations – just a smile or a laugh and somehow its all there again even if ever so briefly.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

Lama Shenpen’s students are all studying the Living the Awakened Heart Training – a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight. The training brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a Western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at www.ahs.org.uk/training