Having engaged in this Mind Training, we can recognize that a person who has harmed us thereby kicks us out of our complacency and pushes us into practice. If we are surrounded by friends, our mental distortions may rarely be triggered and we can easily exaggerate our sense of the progress we have made in our practice. But when hostility triggers animosity, it is like a bucket full of cold water in the face, making it very clear that we have something here to work on.
When someone harms us or otherwise repels us, we can simply say, "This will pass," and distract ourselves with happier thoughts, turning our minds away. But this leaves us no less vulnerable the next time around. Suppose, for example, that Joe is a particularly arrogant person who rubs us the wrong way. We avoid having anything to do with him. After a while he changes jobs, or moves away, and we have no more contact with him. Joe gradually fades from our mind and no longer triggers our hostility. Now Jack appears and he is just as arrogant. Exactly the same thing happens, because nothing has been learned.
What Joe and Jack are doing is offering us an opportunity for self-knowledge, and at the same time providing an impetus for putting this training into practice. We can meditate authentically on the kindness of the very person who harms us and cultivate our awareness of this.
The kindness of a service rendered, or a gift, large or small, is a limited kindness. It may ease our suffering temporarily, but it does not render our minds less vulnerable to suffering. The greatest kindness another person can show us is to help transform our minds so that contentment arises more readily from the nature of the mind itself, without pleasant stimuli. A dharma teacher or a spiritual friend can do that. Our enemies can as well. They show us the truest, innermost kindness, and without them the teachings of books and spiritual friends are insufficient for our spiritual growth. We need these people. They serve an indispensable role in our lives. And what do they get out of it? Nothing, at best. They receive no benefit from the act of giving us harm, and if they are doing something really unwholesome, they get nothing but misfortune. There is ground here for both gratitude and compassion.
Sechibuwa then makes an even more emphatic statement. Inasmuch as the inflictors of harm are truly aiding our practice, they are great friends and helpers in our spiritual growth, and in this sense, we can regard them gladly and from our hearts as emanations of our spiritual mentor or of the Buddha.
Excerpted from: The Seven-Point Mind Training(first published as A Passage from Solitude : Training the Mind in a Life Embracing the World), by B. Alan Wallace. Copyright 1992 by Snow Lion Publications, Ithaca, New York 14851.
This site provides an on-line database of commentaries on the Tibetan Buddhist meditation practices of lojong (Mind Training) and tonglen.