2021-04-18-Second Arrows and Open Windows
3:21AM Apr 19, 2021
So it certainly feels always an honor to be able to be with people on this forum and in other ways to talk about the Dharma, to share the Dharma. Not just the words of the Dharma, but a little bit of the experience of the Dharma.
So here we are. And wasn't sure you know what topic to talk about today, partly because of what's happening nationally in the United States. And that feels like it's pretty for me pretty close in to where I practice a Dharma with the Dharma is about and seems very alive. All the various challenges that this country has. And it's an impressive statistic that for the last month, there have been or so there's been 45 mass shootings in this country. So it seems like a qualifies to be an epidemic. We have the repeated and repeated and repeated violence against African Americans, in some of the videos is quite graphic that, you know, it's painful to watch and see. And the Asian Americans, who were also the recipient now of eight and violence. And now we have this there, the Derrick Shivani trial, which is coming to a head maybe this week, and who knows what direction the jury will go, and maybe in either direction that you're very good jury goes. It seems like it's pretty consequential and and what will happen to this country. So those things are certainly on my heart and in my mind, and besides just bring them up and other things. I just wanted to name them that they're certainly present for me. And that is I talk here about the Dharma. Maybe I am addressing these issues, though, at will not be direct. Not exactly intentionally. But those are definitely close by for me. And what I want to begin by doing is talking about this very famous analogy or parable that many of you have heard before, of the two arrows. And I think this is such a profound teaching. So evocative, and, and as such, it is a kind of a koan, a kind of wonderful Dharma question. And the question is, what is the second arrow, where is the second arrow. So the two arrows are, the idea is that things happen to us in our lives, which are painful. And there's plenty of that in this human life. And, and Buddhism is not to deny that there's pain that happens. And some of that pain is physical, and some of it is emotional, psychological. And then that's called the first arrow, and the second arrow, which makes the pain worse, because being shot by two arrows is worse than being shot by one arrow. The second arrow is what we contribute to the arrow that we shoot at ourselves. Implying that there's a way in which we react and respond to the occurrences of our life or daily life, with where we increase the amount of pain that we experience. And in one, one to one side, the second arrow, that pain and that's the pain we call suffering. The fact that there is pain in the world, that is allowed to be pain and we do the best we can with it. And, and narrow as wisely as we can. But the this very powerful, significant word for Buddhist that word suffering and Duka. That's what happens with a second arrow and that is something that we do to ourselves and so the question is, what is that second arrow that we
that we shoot that ourselves. And so there's many things that we do. One of them is, for example, if we feel pain, and then because of that, oh, we get angry and are hostile, and that hostility can be directed towards others, who we think are the responsible for our pain, or the hostility can be directed towards ourselves. But irregardless of where the hostility is directed, the hostility itself is the arrow is the second arrow. So certainly, you can feel that if the hostility is directed towards oneself, maybe that's like two arrows extra, there's the arrow of the hostility itself. And then that's what the what the arrow hits inside of us. And then facilities directed outward to someone else, it still hurts, the person who's being hostile, is a way of shooting arrows at oneself. And maybe shooting arrows at someone else causing them pain. There can be a second arrow can be not seen as a, as an arrow, it can be a very strong desire that we latch on and attach on to things that we want. And there's something about the squeeze in the holding on of intense desire, really wanting something which actually feels painful if we really feel and they're sensitive to what it is going on here. And we're shooting a second arrow at ourselves. There's jealousy and there's envy, and there's greed. And there's, you know, there's the list of things that we do, that are called the second arrow, conceit is considered to be a second arrow, the conceit of, of, you know, that we're we latch on to we hold on too tightly, some idea of me myself in mind that I'm special, I'm wonderful, I'm different than others I'm, we compare ourselves to other and put ourselves in, in, in that we're better than, or they're worse than to be very critical of oneself and have a negative view of oneself, is a is a second arrow. And certainly life is difficult. So there's a teaching about the two arrows doesn't deny the difficulty of life, it just makes this distinction between where the pain is, and where the suffering is, where the first arrow is, and the second arrow, and all forms all these forms of conceit, the Buddha said that he could not, he did not know of any concept of self idea of self philosophy around who the self is, that didn't bring on the second arrow, that's a powerful statement. It's not the same thing as denying there is a self is just that to be wrapped up around the conceit of itself, is a second arrow. And their second error is around getting wrapped up around opinions and views and philosophies and politics. That being right, and insisting on it. That insistence of being right and, and, and asserting one's views. Even if the views are true and accurate. The assertion of them, the attachment to them, is a second arrow. What happens when people practice something like meditation, mindfulness meditation, we become more and more sensitive to, as to, so we recognize better and better. The second arrow's people who don't have that sensitivity, don't see that hostility is hurting themselves, don't see that the attachment to pleasure or two views, philosophies, politics, attachment to concede, is an attachment to themselves is a second arrow, because they're not attuned to where the pain is where the contraction, the hardnesses and where the, the, the where we get hurt so easily.
So we wanted to challenge one of the things about the second arrows, is they often don't just live by themselves. A second arrow is a kind of agitation. The second arrow kind of lives within us. And then you know, if someone has an arrow stuck in them and someone comes along and wiggles that arrow probably is going to hurt a lot more in the skin or wherever it's pushing in. And so we had these second arrows and they're, they can be embedded in such a way That all kinds of people can come along and do things and say things that are shaking, twisting that second arrow to make it more and more difficult. And the second arrows are often sticking out the most. So that there are the ones that the world around us will often hit first, that the difficulty of the world, what people say to us and do to us, will often hit the second arrow, not something deeper inside of us, because the second arrows are what sticking out. So what I mean by this is that if, if we have the kind of conceit, for example, that I'm better than everyone else, then the slightest little bit, that's a second arrow, the slightest thing someone says that undermines that or, or criticizes that will, will threaten, hurt agitate that second arrow of conceit. If we're angry or hostile towards someone or towards ourselves, then any threat to that hostility, any tried to dampen it down or quieted down or any thing that difficult that happens around us, kind of vibrates or effects that hostility, to kind of irritated more. And so we get more hostile, strong attachment or wanting something, all kinds of things can happen to threaten that desire or that attachment. And so because it's threatened, it hurts even more and, and so in each of these times, when the second arrow is sticking out so far, that's what the world hits when it hits us. It's a it is, we start adding more than second arrows, third, arrows, four, four arrows, and the more arrows we've added to ourselves, the more we're become fragile, the more we're ready to be irritated, or be agitated, or VTP. You know, with all those arrows to be twisted in us even more. So to beat that, so it's very important to learn to recognize the second arrows. And one of the ways to recognize them, is through agitation. Second, arrows are always come with a degree of agitation. In fact, it might even be fair to say, if you're agitated, there's a second arrow operating. And that task of mindfulness would be to discover what is that second arrow, or the task is to settle that agitation. And one of the functions of meditation is to quiet the agitation enough. So we can be more observant and see more clearly, when agitation begins. And not to give authority to the agitation not to get swept away by it or treated as Of course, I'm agitated or taken for granted, just agitation is just happening. And I have to go along with it. I had to do something and run around and fix something or be angry or do something. But to really when we're agitated, to stop and look. And because agitation as a second arrow, is something that when the world comes, does something which is maybe unfortunate around us, that if it hits our agitation hits our second arrows, our response is very different than if we're events of the world doesn't hit their agitation. If this if the events of the world are received in our peaceful heart, are settled heart, if the agitation the difficulties of the world, and what people do to us and say to us, is received in our calmness and our openness. Without any second arrows without the agitation then it's an amazing thing begins to happening. And the amazing thing is that there's a way in which we can feel as if those things don't touch us. As if they go right through. As if there is a vast emptiness, space.
If there is a transparency or there's a through which things occur. They're still known and felt, and even painful things can be felt this pain, but it feels like they're not lingering or being held on to or being stuck anywhere. isn't like they're embedded the arrowhead hasn't been embedded anywhere. And there's this wonderfulness. When there's free Like a vast open window that sees you sees clearly everything kind of the breeze go through grew clearly wonderful spring breeze, perhaps. But when the neighbor kid throws a baseball against the window, it doesn't break the glass, it just goes right through. Hopefully there's nothing in the living room. But as a minor, in my kids in my home, it wasn't so much the neighbor kids throwing baseball, from outside at our window was my kids throwing the baseball inside. And if the window is open, they're not going to, you know, we're gonna hit anything outside that was break. So the idea of, you know, to when there's no second arrow, just like the windows are all open. And then there's a Rome and the heart and the mind to experience the challenges of this world. And we know that we don't have that room for it. When we get agitated. Certainly, we could have a lot of respect and care and, and compassion for our agitation. But to recognize that this is agitation. Oh, I'm agitated. I've heard about that. In Buddhism, agitation, is a very thing that's extra, is the second arrow. I don't know how this is a second arrow? It seems like it's pretty natural, pretty obvious that. That of course you should be agitated in the circumstance. Aren't you supposed to everyone I've ever known in my life, they always got agitated when these things happened. So Isn't this what human beings do they get agitated. And yes, many people do get agitated in all kinds of ways many people do as a matter of natural course of how they live their lives. Shoot a lot of second arrows, but it's not necessary. And so to know this, not to be sex, shoot another arrow at yourself. So I'm a bad person, because I'm agitated. But to know this and get curious. And to take the agitation as a, as a strong encouragement, pay attention, look, see what's going on here. Where's the second arrow, and the agitation I think, even though it might be a second arrow, I think it's actually very helpful to respect it. And, and see it as representing what's important for us. And if it represents what's important for us, then, then it's, it's the more agitated we are, the more it gives us a purpose, a direction. Or Now I know what to do. And that is either to look inside to what is this agitation get curious, sit and meditate, get quiet and study and feel and really get to the bottom of this agitation, what is it and settle the agitation and see what happens then, or, like, for example, for agitated about something in the world, maybe, to get to get caught in that agitation is to miss a golden opportunity is to somehow get too involved in the in the second error we're doing to ourselves and not appreciate that may be what we're agitated about. Doesn't need our agitation. But it does need our attention. So this way of respecting agitation, it's either it's a prompt to look inside more deeply. Or it's a prompt, it gives direction and meaning and purpose, to look outwards and study, be intent and look and learn better what's going on with your friend. If you're agitated by a friend, you know that maybe talk about that talk to them and find what's going on for them and, and in a really, really be present if it's appropriate. If you're agitated about what's happening in the world, if you're really agitated enough, then you have a sense of purpose you can, okay, I'm going to turn my focus of my attention
to learn more about it. Don't wait. Don't rely on social media don't rely even on the on the mainstream news articles. If you're agitated, it's important enough that you should get to the bottom of it and understand and do some research and really learn as opposed to just continue to kind of swim in the agitation and continue to read the kind of news that only agitates you're more then you're not really studying and getting through to it. Doing research. So enter this is always, both these ways are ways of no longer living with a second arrow. And both of them are ways to offer something different to ourselves than just twisting the second arrow and more and more, it's giving us something to do. And that those two can be done together, we can both look deeply inside and settle the agitation, find out where we're attached. Or we can end we can also look and see and study and read about or learn about what's going on in the world. Or even better, we can actually bring our focus to do something about it. And even if it's a very, very small thing, to to act and do, because then we were caught where that is sometimes a way of pulling out their own, or that's the way of not allowing the arrow to keep getting twisted more and more. So there's a marvelous thing that happens, on behalf started to pull out the second arrows. And is that there's less and less that the world strikes, there's less and less windows for the world to break in our hearts, the heart becomes more and more open. So we have to be very careful with these second arrows. Because they're, they are oftentimes the primary source of more and more pain and suffering. So it's not just simply the end, it's that one simple little arrow, second arrow that's going in, that's causing a suffering, but the continued twisting of them and striking of them and rubbing up against them that the world does, and we do makes them kind of more and more, more and more suffering arises and happens. So take out the second arrow, to understand this idea of second arrows. And understand that there's a whole other way of living, it's possible to live as a large open window. It's possible that the things of the world that we can care, we can be involved in we can respond to. But when we are aware of it, when we know it, when it comes to us, when someone is angry with us, it's possible for that to your score right through and are the open window of our heart. And in doing so, we can remain steadfast, present, looking, maybe kindly, but really looking at the challenge looking what's happening looking at, for example, the angry person. Sometimes it makes angry people more angry, if they have no effect on us. So some people will find that very satisfying. But I think more importantly is that if we have no reaction to people who are angry with us, maybe or to the difficulties and challenges of this world and politics and what's happening around us. I hope that we get motivated to be wise about it, to see it more clearly. To be curious and look to turn really, and stay present with eyes open. And looking in that direction, seeing what is this having an open heart where nothing in the world can touch because everything just goes right through does not mean that we become indifferent. It just gives a lot more room for our wisdom or care or interest and our love or compassion to operate. And those things love, compassion, wisdom.
interest, those are not second arrows. And those do not stick out in a way that people can twist and hurt us even more. So. So in summary what I'm hoping in offering you this talk is that He'll get interested in curious about your second arrows. What are they? And, and if you're a little bit like me, then perhaps sometimes you'll see clearly what it is. And sometimes you won't and you'll say, what is the second arrow? I think there's a second arrow here, what's going on? And get curious and and, and they keep this kind of on the forefront, maybe forever, but maybe for this week, maybe talk to your friends and journal about it, reflect on it and meditate with it. What is my second arrows? What are my second arrows? And in what way do my second arrows which way are those second arrows, the very things that the world keeps twisting and twisting and turning in deeper and deeper So thank you, everyone, and thank you for being here. And and I hope that you have a wonderful week and and when you've pulled out your arrows, put them down. Don't put them in your quiver. Put them down and retire them. So thank you.