[Short Bonus]: How did ignorance and delusion arise in the first place? Will samsara end?

06 Jun 2010

For this short bonus episode, I extracted a question that Elizabeth said was maybe unanswerable, about the very beginning of ignorance and delusion (and samsara for that matter). But we all know by now that Alan always has something up his sleeve.

He starts by talking about the problems that can arise when we misniterpret the Buddhist view that “samsara is beginningless”. Infinite past lifes would mean infinite chances to achieve Bodhicitta, to go into meditation retreat for 60 years, to achieve enlightenment, etc, which would mean that we probably failed an infinite number of times. Not very motivating! So Alan gives a very sharp and amazing answer to this “unanswerable” question, which is both completely aligned with the Buddhist notion of a beginningless samsara and extremely logical, drawing from everyday examples such as thinking and dreaming. To illustrate his explanation, Alan draws on a short parable from the book “Naked Awareness” by Karma Chagme (although in the recording you will hear him say it was from “A Spacious Path to Freedom,” which is actually the prequel... He made the correction later in the day).

In the last 5 minutes, we go into the question of the “end of samsara,” where Alan quotes H.H. Dalai Lama and then he ends by sharing a laughter-filled question he made back in Dharamsala about how the last sentient being can achieve enlightenment. I just laughed out loud again listening to it to write the desription.

This much more flattering picture of last week’s rainbow was provided by Rosa - thank you!

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