Pamela Gayle White and Khedrub Zangmo, from Week 4 of their ongoing Tricycle Retreat,  “Letting Go.”

PGW: In the path that the Buddha taught, which goes from confusion to awakening, letting go is an integral part. This is beautifully summed up in just a few words of the Buddha’s teachings where he says,

Refrain from all harmful destructive behavior
Put genuine goodness into practice
Train and tame your mind completely
This is the Buddha’s teaching

There it is, the whole thing. This was his formula for true happiness and true liberation.

This is what we’ve been looking at throughout this retreat. When we talked about meditation we talked about how to tame and train the mind. Then we come to the sticky business of everyday life and that’s where, “Refrain from all harmful destructive behavior” and “Put genuine goodness into practice” is the path.

KZ: Yes, this motivation is important. When we start with the motivation to stop destructive behavior, we’re simply making a strong commitment in our being that we are going to do our level best to stop our destructive behavior. What happens then? We see more clearly when we fail. The commitment sets up our awareness so that we can become more aware to our harmful behavior. That’s how it works. So rather than be discouraged when we see that we’ve failed, we can rejoice in the fact that we are starting to notice how our actions are affecting everybody else.

PGW: It’s also important to understand the difference between thinking that if you do fail, that if there are downfalls and slip-ups, then you’re going to hell or that somebody is going to judge you for it. Instead, you understand that if you experience downfalls and slip-ups that there are results to them and that these results aren’t something that you are interested in experiencing. This teaching of the Buddha when he says “Refrain from all harmful destructive behavior” is not “otherwise I’ll be mad at you.” That’s not the point. The point is that the behavior takes you exactly where you don’t want to go. It brings you suffering because every action has a result and it brings suffering to those around you that have to experience your anger, your ire, your vengefulness, or whatever emotion it is that you are allowing to express itself in a destructive way. It’s really important to make this distinction, so much of the Buddhist path is about letting go of destructive behavior because we understand how it ripens.

KZ: We understand that it causes a stream suffering to ourselves and everyone around us.

PGW: This is inevitable. When we talk about karma this is what we’re talking about.


To take part in this retreat, please become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member.


Shakyamuni Buddha
(HAR 50241)
1800 – 1899
Buddhist Lineage
Collection of Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts

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