The cause of suffering

March 22, 2015 § 2 Comments

Willow 0754

The human mind, à la brain, is a unitary system. Although specific areas perform specific functions they do not work in isolation from each other. When an idea takes hold of one part of the mind it can spread to every part and come to dominant how an individual sees the world. This is how attitudes are formed. To use Carl Jung’s definition, an attitude is a readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way.

A subset of attitude is psychological contamination wherein a negative experience or idea colors and contaminates your view of the world. Contamination is marked by a denial or negation of the good of a previous state that has been overwhelmed by a negative experience or idea. It is through contamination that a passing feeling of unworthiness can spread to leave a child believing that every aspect of his or her self is “bad”.

Because contamination is marked by denial, the child with low self-esteem quickly learns to hide his inner self. The child begins to deny his feelings and takes no responsibility for actions that he believes will be met with disapproval or punishment if acknowledged. He begins to fear, then suppress, his own natural assertiveness and spontaneity.

This self-negation leads to a fear of discovery that if carried into adulthood leaves an individual with an undefined fear of being exposed or “found out”, though by this time there is no clear idea what is feared to be found out. It also leads to endless suffering in the form of anger control issues, depression, anxiety or addictions. Yet, if examined closely, it will be discovered that at the heart of these problems is the attempt to change what a person is into what he or she is not. And therein lies the crux of suffering.

Suffering results from the attempt to change what “is” into something it isn’t. Suffering results from trying to make yourself into something you are not.  Suffering results from denying your own true nature.

In a state of meditative self-inquiry you can see how your mind reacts with denial to what you don’t like. You may see yourself holding onto a belief even though part of you knows that it is in conflict with the real world and/or your true nature. If, for example, you get news that contradicts your core values, you automatically try to reinterpret the news so it conforms with your beliefs. This attempt to change reality into something it isn’t causes a great deal of stress and it is this stress that creates your suffering. Yet, when you name your self neither good nor bad, you open to your true self and the end of suffering.


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