The Habit of Self

“Vajra hell is a profound concept. It’s not necessarily a place where you burn in molten iron surrounded by hell guardians with hideous faces. Vajra hell can be a place where you become so attached to the logic of karma that you get entangled, so caught up by rationality that you cannot get beyond it.

煉獄是個複雜的概念,未必意味著真有兇神惡煞把你扔進鼎沸熔漿。煉獄也可以是這樣一種境況 ── 你執著於因果邏輯,在理性思維中糾纏不清,無法自拔。

In vajra hell you will never understand the profound meaning when we say shit and food have one taste because you have stubbornly and absolutely become rational. Having broken on extreme samaya vow, you may end up being reborn with a habit of not trusting the grand view. You will end up a person who needs to have the omelet assembled before you see it as an omelet. And that, in the Vajrayana view, is even worse than burning in hell. This strong habit of no confidence in the method is a heavy loss for you.”


“The Buddhist practice of nonviolence is not merely submissiveness with a smile or meek thoughtfulness. The fundamental cause of violence is when one is fixated on an extreme idea, such as justice or morality. This fixation usually stems from a habit of buying into dualistic views, such as bad and good, ugly and beautiful, moral and immoral.

佛教中的非暴力,並非只意味著面帶微笑或謙和周到。暴力的根本起因,在於執著某個極端念頭,例如公正或道德。那份執著,又起源於分別心,例如好與壞,美與醜,善與惡 ……

One’s inflexible self-righteousness takes up all the space that would allow empathy for others. Sanity is lost. Understanding that all these views or values are compounded and impermanent, as is the person who holds them, violence is averted.

當一個人的自我正義感太強,過於自以為是時,他/她可能變得毫無同理心,甚至喪失了理智。正如人一樣,所有意見和價值觀都不是絕對或固定不變的 ── 理解了這點,暴力就可避免。

When you have no ego, no clinging to the self, there is never a reason to be violent. When one understands that one’s enemies are held under a powerful influence of their own ignorance and aggression, that they are trapped by their habits, it is easier to forgive them for their irritating behavior and actions. Similarly, if someone from the insane asylum insults you, there is no point in getting angry. When we transcend believing in the extremes of dualistic phenomena, we have transcended the causes of violence.”

一旦放下自我,你就找不到任何理由去付諸暴力。你所謂的敵人,其實都是他們自身無知的犧牲品,都受困於他們累世的積習 ── 理解了這個,你會發現原諒他們其實很容易。正如當你受到精神病院病人辱罵時,你不會去跟他們一般見識。一旦我們能超越表象看穿本質,我們就超越了暴力。

“Habit makes us weak against the self. Even simple habits die hard. You may be aware of how bad smoking is for your health, but that doesn’t necessarily convince you to stop smoking, especially when you enjoy the ritual, the slender shape of the cigarette, the way the tobacco smolders, the fragrant smoke curling around your fingers.

積習讓人對自己束手無策。哪怕是小小習慣,也很難改。你十分清楚抽菸危害健康,卻仍照抽不誤,邊抽邊欣賞修長的菸身、捲曲的菸灰,或者縈繞指尖的裊裊菸味 ……

But the habit of self is not just a simple addiction like smoking cigarettes. From time immemorial we have been addicted to the self. It is how we identify ourselves. It is what we love most dearly. It is also what we hate most fiercely at times. Its existence is also the thing that we work hardest to try to validate. Almost everything that we do or think or have, including our spiritual path, is a means to confirm its existence. It is the self that fears failure and longs for success, fears hell and longs for heaven. The self loathes suffering and loves the causes of suffering. It stupidly wages war in the name of peace. It wishes for enlightenment but detests the path to enlightenment. It wishes to work as a socialist but live as a capitalist.


When the self feels lonely, it desires friendship. Its possessiveness of those it loves manifests in passion that can lead to aggression. Its supposed enemies — such as spiritual paths designed to conquer the ego—are often corrupted and recruited as the self’s ally. Its skill in playing the game of deception is nearly perfect. It weaves a cocoon around itself like a silkworm; but unlike a silkworm, it doesn’t know how to find the way out.”

當自我感到孤獨時,它渴望友情。當它熱愛某件東西時,它的佔有欲會變得失控。針對自我的種種靈修努力,最終通常被自我轉化成盟友 ── 自我的欺騙手法已近乎完美。像蠶繭一般,它在自己身上包裹了層層保護;唯一跟蠶繭不同的是,它不知該如何尋找出路。

~ Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (宗薩欽哲仁波切) ~

2 thoughts on “The Habit of Self

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s