where you are:
Bewilderment and Suffering
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Do you think of yourself as bewildered
at times? How so?
We are — most
of us — in a state of bewilderment.
Our bewildered mind is continually distracted. Lost
in discursiveness and self-absorption, it's unable
to cope. When the unexpected occurs, it reacts from
the limited perspective of wanting to stay happy in
a small place. If we're threatened, we strike out with
anger. If somebody has something we want, automatically
we feel jealous.
Does this describe you? Think how this
description does describe you and spend
some time reflecting on the characteristics
of your bewilderment.
bewilderment starts with not even knowing
what our mind is.
In our life (and, as you’ll see, in practice
of meditation) there is a tendency to keep going without
resting. We feel that we must keep going and doing
more and more in order to understand what is going
on in our life. We're stuck in the middle of this hurricane,
and we're not sure how things fit together. But we
have to realize what is going on in our life as a whole
and begin to understand the whole conundrum of this
life and this mind.
an untrained mind, we live most days of our lives
at the mercy of our moods. Waking up in the
morning is like gambling: "What mind did I
end up with today? Is it the irritated mind, the
mind, the anxious mind, the angry mind, the compassionate
mind, or the loving mind?"
Most of the time we believe that the mind-set we
have is who we are and we live our day from it. We
meditate on it. We don't question it. Whether we
wake up feeling dread or excitement or just feeling
sleepy, the propelling motivation is simply wanting
things to go well for "me."
Do you live at the mercy of your moods?
Do you hope that feeling good and things
going well will be the result of you
roll of the dice? Do you feel
that your state of mind is something
outside of you, like the weather?
The bewildered, untrained mind is like a wild horse.
It runs away when we try to find it, shies when we
try to approach it. If we find a way to ride it,
it takes off with the bit in its teeth and finally
throws us right into the mud. We think that the only
way to steady it is to give it what it wants. We
spend so much of our energy trying to satisfy and
entertain this wild horse of a mind.
Have a nice
Many of us
labor mightily to keep our bewilderment at bay
by creating a zone of comfort. We imagine a place
that's not too hot,
not too cold, but just right and then live from the
motivation to keep ourselves in such a zone. We spend
our lives constructing a personal zone
where our solid sense of self feels comfortable and
protected, where everything's just how we like it,
and we work to keep it that way.
But of course it’s not. If we’ve decided
that different aspects of our life must align in
order for us to be happy, trying to perpetuate
this zone involves worrying. When they don't come
together, which is inevitable, we suffer.
chews on hope and fear because it's unable to relax.
We're afraid of what will happen if we loosen our
grip on ourselves. We work to draw in what
will make us happy, fend off whatever causes pain,
and pretty much ignore the rest. This is what most
of us consider pleasure. We create a comfort zone
based on the motivation "I just want to get
by." I call this the "have a nice day" approach.
Reflect on this description. Does
this apply to you? Do you spend your
life constructing a zone inside of
which you hope to have a nice day?
As a motivation
for living our lives, "have
a nice day" is very confining. It keeps us trapped
in dissatisfaction, self-involvement, and fear. We
feel defensive and claustrophobic. We are running
on speed, need, and greed. And we are often moving
so quickly that we don't even notice that we have
a motivation. That sense of oppression is maintained
by our bewildered, untrained mind. It's all-pervasive,
deep, as if we're dreaming. This is suffering.
all have the ability to come to a point where
there is no confusion, where there is no
bewilderment, where it's very clear what
is going on. This is different from trying
to figure everything out. .
In order to wake up to our enlightened qualities
— unconditional love and compassion, uninhibited,
total ease with ourselves, a clear and sharp mind
— we first have
to understand the nature of our bewilderment. Do
we really know what's going on? Are we capable of
knowing what's going on? Yes, ultimately we can.
But we need to go on a journey of meditation to understand
our mind. In order to understand the journey, we
must be aware and observant of whatever is going
on in our mind and our life.