All emotional/mental states are either positive, negative or neutral in nature. No need to be concerned with neutral states and positive mental states like love, compassion, kindness and patience bring about a sense of peace, harmony and contentment. Our work is with the negative emotional/mental states such as anger, jealousy, insecurity, selfishness, anxiety, depression and so on... These feelings make us physically and mentally ill. Buddha said we are all mentally ill. This is the definition of our suffering and attachment is the cause. He also said it’s possible to weed out these mental states, by mindfulness they lose their power and we find ourselves struggling less. There is a way to overcoming our suffering.
The root of all suffering is attachment because an attachment that is not satisfied, quickly becomes aversion, which are negative emotions and states of mind. The trouble is; we are attached to everything. We are attached to things, people, our sense of self and the way we want things to be. We have attachment to the opinions of others, our own thoughts, story lines and even the pain and suffering itself.
This teaching is easy to intellectualize but it really only works once it penetrates the ego. Attachment is a function of the ego, it serves to strengthen our sense of “self”. The ego seeks to hook our attention with some thought or emotion and it takes control as we look to blame others or in most cases ourselves for our pain. We can quickly be derailed by self-loathing or lashing out at others…acts of the ego.
It’s a tall order to tame the ego. It will never go away completely and so the only answer is mindfulness. We must practice watching our thoughts and emotions vigilantly. We must get to know our minds and neurosis intimately. Most importantly we must treat ourselves with love and compassion in the process. It’s an inside job, no one else can do it. That is the only way to master the ego rather than be its slave.
Consider this…the strength of a single silk thread from a spider is five times stronger than steel. The tiniest thread of attachment can cause the most lasting pain because it’s so fine it is barely detectable. This is how tuned-in to the subtle fluctuations of the mind we need to become. This is why we must meditate…
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