Inner turmoil and negativity are by-products of our reactions to the worldly assaults on our six senses. Pierced by the arrow of craving and poisoned by ignorance, we stand defenceless against Mara’s band of rogues that tempt us and crowd our thoughts in their many guises. Beguiled and believing in their promises, we fall in line.
Our chronic clinging to and grasping after the delights of the material world – thinking they will make us happy – perpetuate lifetimes of conditioning. Whenever we are stressed or overtaken by anxiety, bitterness, loneliness, grief, or guilt, we automatically look for an escape through some form of gratification: we reach for the remote control, grab a snack, or call someone so that we can talk – and hear ourselves.
We may think that we are in charge, but all the while, balancing on the precipice of expectation, we either rush towards what we want or away from what we hope to avoid. We dread waking up. And behind a facade of contentment, we keep frenetically busy. Then how will we find time to stop?
More to the point, do we really want to stop? No, because then we may have to deal with what is difficult and painful. For this whirlwind of activity numbs us to what is real. We’re not shifting around just to find a comfortable posture or the right set of conditions, but as long as we keep moving, nothing will touch us, neither anger nor grief nor the phantom gnawing of a subconscious angst.
Preferring to ignore our suffering and remain oblivious to its cause, we apply snake oil and become addicted to the latest therapies, new-age gimmicks, pills, even retreats, in futile attempts to gain perfect health and mental composure. These are fine to some degree. But even meditation techniques – wrongly applied – are little more than placebos that temporarily relieve without ministering to the illness itself.
This reflection by Ayya Medhanandi is from the book, “Gone Forth, Going Beyond,” (pdf) pp. 77-78.