It is hard to think of fighting the forces of greed, hatred and delusion ‘out there’ when they are very much within us. We march for peace and attend rallies and vigils but true peace in the world must begin with personal disarmament. It is an interior work that each of us can nurture through moral vigilance and spiritual discipleship and its hiddenness does not make it any less powerful.
We can see how this inner turmoil is ever present, how the world assaults us day by day, bombarding the six sense media from all directions. We are pierced by the arrow of craving and wounded with the poison of ignorance. Mara’s well-disguised messengers continue to crowd into our consciousness. Beguiled, we welcome them. ‘Come in, take over, it’s okay.’ As always, they fail to keep their promises.
We thirst and cling and grasp, trying to prop up the body, succumbing again and again to the tyranny of the senses, to desire and aversion, the lust for things and the escape from them. We live on the precipice of fear, in dread of waking up, of seeing how, repeatedly, we make ourselves ill or empower other people to make us ill, or how an insidious unrest touches everything around us.
Still we are ignorant about the nature of our suffering, oblivious to the cause of the poison in our hearts. We try many kinds of remedies and antidotes, making choices and organising our lives in futile attempts to gain control. We may become addicted to pills and outside therapies, even retreats, to calm down. There is nothing wrong with these. But they are just placebos. They give temporary relief from our pain or disquiet without ministering to the illness itself.
This reflection by Ayya Medhanandi is from the book, Awakening Presence, (pdf) pp. 89-90.