It is said in the texts that the dharma is a safe and sure path to be travelled joyfully. How do these three words: Safe, Sure and Joyful manifest in the practice?
One time the Buddha said this to the monks: “For the most part people have this wish, desire and longing: If only unwished for, undesired, disagreeable things would diminish and wished for, desired, agreeable things would increase. Yet, although beings have this wish, desire and longing, disagreeable things continue to increase for them – and agreeable things continue to diminish!” What is the reason for that? An untaught, ordinary person does not know what things should be developed and what things should not be developed. Because of this, suffering is perpetuated.
The untaught person acts from the wrong view of life: feeding the defilements of greed, hatred and delusion by grasping at the pleasant and pushing away the unpleasant, thinking that this is where happiness lies. When in fact, this is the very thing that keeps us ensnared in suffering, because the nature of experience is to constantly change. There is no resting place. This is the unsafe way to live. It is sure to lead to deeper states of suffering and therefore is not a joyful path to pursue because it is unsatisfying.
Practicing the dharma then, is a deeply compassionate act because we are freeing ourselves from suffering.
When we come to the dharma, we begin with the right view that directly understands the importance of the practice of mindfulness and wisdom as a means to not act on the defilements which bring so much suffering. A great joy and upliftment of heart permeates our lives when we see that the dharma does work, as we experience the results of growing happiness and ease. We know for ourselves that it is a safe path to be travelled joyfully and want to continue to practice. We trust that the path will take us to the highest happiness – that it is a sure way for this to come about.
The beauty of this practice is that we begin with whatever is here, right now, amid the ordinariness of our daily lives. Be it in our relationships, at work, or in the surprising events that might come about in worldly affairs – whatever difficult, dull, boring, fascinating, wonderful, peaceful or hair-raising situations we may find ourselves in – the practice is found within them. They are our practice. With right view, we are able to bring the dharma alive and integrate it into all situations, and because of this we are safe in knowing how not to suffer. We are less reactive and not so liable to fall into the wrong view of feeding the defilements.
Knowing that the path is a safe and sure one, we continue to walk it joyfully, not for ourselves alone, but for the welfare, happiness and freedom of all beings everywhere.