This is the third post in a series on Surrendering Your Addiction to Suffering. You can read the first post here (wherein I give an overview of the nine commitments necessary to the process) about the and the second post (about the first commitment) here. Today we're talking about the second commitment in surrendering your addiction to suffering:
2) Understand that these judgments, though voiced by your own internal monologue, represent the distorted perceptions of a spiritual dis-ease and not “the truth”
The Buddha (one of my favorite dudes, along with Jesus, Byron Katie and Lao Tse) said that ignorance is the primary affliction of the human mind. The two other afflictions he noted, desire and hate, are secondary manifestations of that ignorance. The ignorance that makes us suffer isn't a lack of knowledge in the conventional sense -- instead, it's a fundamental misperception about the nature of who we are and how reality works.
Our misperception leads us to think that we're discrete, solitary individuals separate from the whole of existence. We identify with the contents of our mind and emotion and mistake the aggregate of those contents to be "me." Once we've made that basic mistake, we have the sense, at a fundamental level, that it's "me against the world." Even if we're generally happy-go-lucky people, the moment something goes not-according-to-plan in a big way (we lose a job we depended on for our security; a relationship goes sour; a loved one dies; we get ill; we get old... on and on) we feel attacked.
This feeling of being attacked by things not matching up with our internal picture of how life should treat us is a symptom of our misperception that we're basically separate from the rest of life. We resent the people and situations that appear to be battling us (i.e., we experience hate) and we long for whatever circumstances we think would make it all better (i.e., we desire).
In the absence of the fundamental mistake of thinking we're a separate "me" we would be unable to see anything as going against us (because there would be no "us" for "it" to go "against") and we'd be unable to wish for anything other than what's already present in our lives (because we wouldn't be able to perceive ourselves as lacking anything -- you can't lack something if you are everything).
Ignorance, desire and hate are the dangerous trio that make up the spiritual disease of addiction to suffering, which we ordinary humans are all afflicted with to some extent or another.
Sometimes I think that Jesus said we must become as little children in order to reach the Kingdom of Heaven because very little children don't yet have a sense of themselves as discrete individuals; they don't hate; and while they sure make a fuss about getting fed and having their diapers changed, they don't desire in the sense that they don't mentally attach themselves to specific stories about what life should look like.
Enlightenment (or "entering the Kingdom of Heaven" in the Christian tradition-- a Kingdom which, by the way, Jesus adamantly stated could be found here on earth) is the state of consciousness in which one is totally free from the disease of addiction. It's the condition of being free from ignorance, hate and desire. Far from being a boring condition (some folks imagine desire-less-ness as a kind of numbness) it's actually a profoundly vivid state of joy, abounding love, and deep fulfillment.
I've long been putting in my petition to get hit with the enlightenment bolt, but until that happens in order to stay remotely sane I have to focus on letting go of my ignorance, hate and desire to the best of my ability. The second commitment in this process reminds me that my mind's stream of negative judgments just aren't the truth. They're the product of my fundamental confusion about who I am and what life is doing. This commitment represents my willingness to be humble and to be aware.
When I keep this commitment at the forefront of my awareness I find that a bit of air and spaciousness comes into the dark, foetid chambers of my mind and makes room for truth and love to come in.
If you'd like some help on getting to spaciousness around your suffering, you might want to check out my low-cost life coaching.
Image by Dalbera. Borrowed from Flickr under Creative Commons licensing.