Dispassion Requires Strength

ฐานิสสโร ภิกขุ

Dispassion Requires Strength

Suffering isn’t simply something you passively endure. It’s an activity, the activity of clinging, in which the mind feeds off the things to which it clings. Its cause is also something you’re doing: You crave either to fantasize about sensual pleasures, to take on an identity in a particular world of experience, or to see your identity in a world of experience destroyed.

The cessation of suffering requires that you develop dispassion both for clinging and these forms of craving. The path requires that you develop the qualities of mind that lead toward that dispassion.

This is a tall order, because you’ll have to abandon many of the activities you’ve taken as food for the mind, thinking that the pleasures they gave were worth whatever pain they involved. Now, however, honesty requires you to admit that they’re not, and so you have to give them up. This is where you realize that the principle of harmlessness is not just inoffensive meekness.

It requires strength: the strength of restraint, the strength of consistency, the strength of determination, the strength of really being true to yourself, the ability to sacrifice immediate pleasure for long-term good.

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the book, First Things First: Essays on the Buddhist Path, (pdf) p. 10.