While working with a private student this morning I asked:
why is it that people are so attached to things they CAN NOT change and don’t do anything about (or are so detached from) the things that they CAN change?
How does that view of reality get so turned around in people’s heads?
You can’t change the bad weather, you can’t change being stuck in traffic, you can’t change a slow line at the airport, you can’t change the way your mother or father treated you in your childhood. so why are you intimately attached to your own suffering? maybe because your suffering gives you your identity?
do you experience sadness or are you a sad person? do you experience anger or are you an angry person? hugely different scenarios.
However, you can change the way you look at things: you can cultivate more patience, you can become less judgmental, you can become more compassionate (always first towards yourself), you can slow down, you can stop multi-tasking. so why do you have aversion to changing your conditioning? maybe because if you changed your conditioning you would not be “you”?
oh those pesky samskaras! who would we be without them?
It dawned on me that this is the cause of so much suffering.
I am not going to write a long esoteric post of what the Buddha taught, but some of the things he taught were about the impermanence of all things, about seeing the true nature of reality, about attachment and aversion.
People cling to the mindset of “that’s the way I’ve always been” or “that’s the way we’ve always done things” when they are talking about their lives in the HERE AND NOW. Because X happened 20 or 30 or 40 years ago, that is why they are like this now. We are “survivors” of this and “victims” of that. that has nothing to do with NOW.
I always use the example of concentration camp survivors when I talk to students about changing their way of looking at things….
two men survive Auschwitz. they both lost their entire families. they are all alone. they both suffered through the cold, the lice, the dysentery, the starvation, through the same horrors. but when they are liberated, what makes one a Nazi hunter and what makes the other a hungry ghost shackled to the past? are they both survivors or are they both victims?
I am reading Bringing Yoga to Life by Donna Farhi. this is one of the best yoga books I have encountered and it will definitely be on the students’ required reading list when I start my own teacher training program. it is not a book on asana practice, it is so much more…just like yoga.
In the chapter “A Box of Monsters”, Farhi writes that separating our true Self from our box of monsters is no easy task, and she cites the advice of the great Hindu sage, Ramana Maharshi. She says that Maharshi used an analogy repeatedly with his students to help them understand the layers of their experience:
“It is like a cinema. The screen is always there but several types of pictures appear on the screen and then disappear. Nothing sticks to the screen; it remains the screen. Similarly, you remain your own Self in all the three states [wakefulness, dream, deep sleep]. If you know that, the three states will not trouble you, just as the pictures which appear on the screen do not stick to it. On the screen you sometimes see a huge ocean with endless waves; that disappears. Another time you see fire spreading all around; that too disappears. The screen is there on both occasions. Did the screen get wet with the water or did it get burned by the fire? Nothing affected the screen. In the same way, the things that happen during the wakeful, dream, and sleep states do not affect you at all; you remain your own Self.”
Maharshi’s basic question was: are you the screen or are you the projection?
Farhi says that if you think the projection and the screen are the same, then it is like thinking that every time a horror show is on television, you’re going to have to fix the TV.
Yes, as feeling human beings we are affected by the horrors we endure, but that is not our endgame because we are so much more. Some may call me a survivor, a statistic, but I am so much more. we have a body, but we are more than our bodies. we are more than our box of monsters. what remains after our own horror show remains undamaged.
As a wise-ass Buddhist once said, life is suffering, life sucks, but pain is optional.
the choice is yours.
Impermanent are all compounded things.
When one perceives this with true insight,
then one becomes detached from suffering;
this is the path of purification.