Grasping, aversion and delusion

So much suffering is caused aversion and grasping. It arises out of our instinctive reaction to grasp whatever we perceive as happy or pleasant experiences whilst avoiding or rejecting uncomfortable or unpleasant experiences. When things go well, we want them not to change; we grasp at them hoping that they will continue. In contrast, when something feels uncomfortable or unpleasant, we want it to stop or go away as soon as possible.

We evolved this as part of our survival system. It works splendidly in the survival/hunter/gatherer context in which we evolved. However, we are no longer fighting for survival and not a single person reading this survives as a hunter-gatherer.

If we add to these two characteristics delusion (by delusion I mean incorrect and distorted perception), then suffering follows. The delusions I refer to here include confusion about who we really are as humans beings (eg. conscious/spiritual beings in a physical body); too much identification with our ego, rather than connecting with our truer deeper self; experiencing ourselves as separate rather than the reality − that we are profoundly and deeply connected to all things, to all life. Taking things personally, blaming others for how we feel are common examples of delusion.

Delusion such as this gives rise to the negative and destructive emotions/perceptions like anger, selfishness, agitation, rigidity of thought, anxiety, hate, greed to mention a few. We find ourselves going round and round on a wheel of suffering.

There is a solution to this permanent anxiety, worrying, anger and frustration.

The first step in freeing ourselves from this wheel of suffering is to obtain a clearer vision of what is going on. To loosen the compulsive demands of our autopilot, this we do through mindful meditation (sati) − both formal and informal; the practice of compassion (karuna) towards others and ourselves; loving kindness (metta) and forgiveness. (Forgiveness is fundamentally for our own sake, for our own mental health. It is a way of letting go of the pain we carry). Also, gratitude and its cousin, generosity.

Just reading that list of those practices can leave us feeling helpless.  Where do I start? there is too much to do.

This is why your attitude is so important. Open curiosity, kindness towards yourself and a kindly sense of humour. You must adopt the same attitude as the wise gardner, who understands that he has no power to create tomatoes − just the conditions which favour the manifestation of tomatoes. His/her focus is primarily in the process rather than obsessing about the result. This focus develops an attitude of patience and humility.

By adopting this non-grasping/ non-aversion attitude, we understand that happiness is not permanent; it will come and go according to conditions. The same can be said of bad feelings; these are not permanent either and will go. We start the process of seeing and accepting ourselves. It is a lifelong process but if you adopt these perceptions, attitudes and practices, you will experience the following more frequently in your life: equanimity, joy, adaptability/flexibility, kindness, clarity, connection, and modesty amongst others.

Why not join us this year as we work through this in Resilient talks and our meditation and movement classes? Or come to one of our 3-day retreats.

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