FULL MOON – Security

Published Thursday, 17 March 2022

We are our own protection;
we are indeed our own secure abiding;
how could it be otherwise?
So with due care we attend to ourselves.

Dhammapada v.380

To want to feel safe and secure is perfectly natural. We do need to be careful, however, about where we look for safety and security. Looking in the wrong places can mean that when we encounter uncertainty, we stumble and our awareness collapses into a painful knot of fear and anger. In this verse the Buddha directs us to look inwards for a secure abiding. Such advice can conflict with our instincts to try to control outer conditions. Maybe we feel mean for paying attention to ourselves while others around us are suffering. Remember that the Buddha isn’t telling us to only pay attention inwards; rather, that having access to an inner sense of security is the priority if we want to live in this world and remain sane. So long as we do not have an honest, conscious relationship with our desire for certainty, we are bound to project our fear of uncertainty outwards; to demand that outer circumstances are stable and accord with our preferences. This leaves us dangerously vulnerable. One important aspect of ‘attending to ourselves with due care’ is to study our reactions when faced with feelings of uncertainty. Can we feel afraid without becoming lost in fear? Can we feel sad without becoming lost in sadness. ‘Protecting ourselves’ doesn’t mean not having feelings. It means learning how, at the right time, to remember the refuge in the Buddha: in selfless, just-knowing awareness – that which can lead to accurate understanding and true compassion.

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