The elder tells us the facts and figures. He or she tells us that the world is not made out of honeycombs and oceans of maple syrup. The elder tells us that the world has its own unpleasant and touchy points. When you have been told that truth, you begin to appreciate it more. You begin to respect that truth. For the elder, such truth is old hat: he or she knows it already, having gone through it herself. Nevertheless, she doesn’t give out righteous messages. She simply says, “Look, it’s not as good as you think. It is going to be somewhat painful for you, getting into this world. You can’t help it—so you’d better work with it and accept the truth.” That is precisely how the Lord Buddha first proclaimed the dharma. His first teaching was the truth of suffering.
“The Teacher” in the latest issue of the Shambhala Sun. Based on a seminar on the Sadhana of Mahamudra, 1975.