Hidden source of suffering
The Sanskrit word “Dukkha” was poorly translated as “suffering”. “Dukkha” encompasses any negativity coming from life (I call it external negativity) and from our body-mind, that I call internal negativity)
A small proportion of negativity is external such as accidents, disaster, lose of a loved one, separation, being fired, illness, etc; but, by far, most of our negativity is internal or self-induced thinking.
Self induced suffering is generated by the so-called 3 roots: “I want” (this is desire) – “I don’t want” (this is hatred) – and “I believe” (so called ignorance or not knowing genuine reality).
Desires, hatred and beliefs come from our incessant thinking made of education judgments, expectation about us, others, events and life in general.
Positive feelings, for example pleasure and joy are not very frequent and don’t not linger too long.
On the contrary, negative feelings such anger, worries, nostalgia are more frequent and last longer.
Probably based on 3.4 billion years of evolution, our brain-mind is magnetizing more to the negative stuff such as danger, and because the job of our ego is fight against it and to protect us.
Therefore, as we struggle with our ongoing emotional roller coaster, we progressively develop mental habits to feed our pain and be trapped with it.
Negative thinking is our default mode and was already discussed by the Buddha 2,500 years ago. Nothing new under the sky.
So, what can we do?
As far “external negativity” Zen says: “ Things are what they are and not what we want them to be”.
It does not mean to give up on everything.
Frustration, anger against external suffering ? Maybe but they do not help, instead they do the opposite.
Accept, adapt and let go because external events, as oppose to the internal ones are transients.
Regarding the internal suffering, what we can do, first, is to be mindful to our mind-made inner noise by paying attention, in a nonanalytic way, to each positive and negative emotion (desire & hatred), our illusion, beliefs, expectation and judgment.
Judging more consciously and less automatically is important. Judge only when required and don’t use it as part of a social small talk.
Anger, guilt, fear, pride, blame and shame are very powerful instruments of our ego. They, also, need to be observed then accepted otherwise we become slaves of them.
Creating a quieter mind-space starts with taking contact with genuine reality. For example, by focusing on the inputs of our 5 senses or on few breaths.
When you bring your attention to your breath, you become present and aware. As you notice your breath, also try to remember what is good in you and your thoughts are just thoughts and not reality.
Self-compassion and self-forgiveness are totally alien in our Western culture.
Remember that we do not control too much around us, therefore there is nothing too much we can do about external sources of suffering: not on their timing, intensity and duration. Just accept them the best you can and be mindful to their transient traits. They never last forever unless you are stuck with them.
As far our internal hidden sources, by accepting them rather than resisting or fighting will cool down our emotional energy, helping your rational prefrontal mind against our reptilian centre.
It will greatly help in dealing with our internal pains in a more constructive way rather been prisoner of them.
Thanks, you Zen: an oasis of serenity inside a restless mind