Negativity (from 37P 03: 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva 00:34:08.00 - 00:39:49.00)

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Give up bad friends.

One could look at this very literally which Thogme Zongpo undoubtedly means. But in the way that we were talking last time one can also look at it as, "What do you do with negativity in your experience?" And here there are three ways of working with it. And which way you use depends on your ability with respect to that particular experience of negativity.

If you have sufficient capacity in attention, you can experience the negativity and not lose attention. And when that happens, what is negative opens up and releases, and the energy locked in it becomes available to you in your practice.

And you can actually experience that with people. If you are present with them, not reacting, their negativity can release and a very different kind of relationship and different possibilities can open up in them. I know that many of you have experienced that kind of thing, either being with someone who had that transforming effect on you or you had that transforming effect on them. So that's where you can actually drink the negativity and it enriches you, which is vajrayana level practice.

If you don't have a sufficient capacity to do that, then trying to do that is actually counterproductive. So then you use...you make the enemy into a friend, an ally. Which is analagous...you're going to have this fight and you meet this person and you say, "Why don't we go down to the pub and have a drink?" And you end up buddies so you change them. The principle practice that you have for that is taking and sending. And in any experience of negativity there is a sense of separation and alienation and in taking and sending you actually bridge that.

But if you don't have the capacity to form a relationship that way, and I was actually working on an area in my own practice and discovered this quite hard area I don't have any relationship with. My work's cut out for the next few months. Oh, it looks like fun ahead.

If you don't have the capacity to form a relationship with it, then it's actually best to limit contact. Because you can't experience it without getting lost in it. It's not where you want to end up. It's a practical thing to do in the short term.

Now, look at these not as absolute injunctions but pragmatic advice. These are not the ten commandments, which is God's word engraved in stone. They've been trying to engrave it in stone and it's on all the courthouses all over. These are instructions. These are practices, which doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want. But how do you use them?

Well, if you hang out with certain people and you get distracted. They want to stay up late and drink and have a good time. And there's nothing wrong with that, it's just that it weakens your intention in your life. That's all. So look at this in pragmatic terms. Is that a useful response?