This continues on nicely from yesterday’s post about preparing and training your mind for ‘battle’ with suffering. It feels a bit odd using so many war analogies to explain the peaceful, pacifist tradition of Buddhism…but hopefully it’s helping to make the points clearer.
If you’re taking on an opponent, the more you know about who you’re going up against, the more likely you are to succeed. For example, if you’re duelling with someone where you know all their strengths and weaknesses, you’ll be able to formulate a much more effective strategy for overcoming them. By contrast, if you know nothing about them, then it’s literally a stab in the dark, and you’re much less likely to hit your target.
It’s the same with tackling negative mental states, according to the Dalai Lama, and it’s better to look into your problems, as opposed to running from them.
Personally, the last thing I want to do is actually think about any problems that might be playing on my mind - I’d much rather avoid them. But I think we all know from experience that if we attack them head on, and take the time to see what it actually is that’s causing us stress, then it makes everything seem so much clearer, and we generally feel better about the situation as a result.
A lot of the time, it’s something that’s not as big a deal as it seemed, and reflecting on the issue and understanding why it’s disturbing your peace of mind can help in easing any pain it’s causing you. If we avoid it, then it’s still lingering there in the back of our mind, and we haven’t made any progress in solving the problem.
“Alone in my room and the tears start pouring, wishing the night was still the morning. But tonight, imma let them fall down, fall down”
I feel like there are lots of songs that would suit this teaching, but I went with Mabel’s ‘OK (Anxiety Anthem)’. In it she confronts her anxiety, something that will be covered in more depth later on in this project. It’s a super inspiring ode to being open with yourself about your feelings, and accepting them without judgment.
“‘Cause it's okay not to be okay, it’s okay if you feel the pain, don’t gotta wipe your tears away”
This builds again on yesterday’s post, because it’s again centred around the idea of accepting the pain you feel, and not being ashamed about it. Because from this starting point the Dalai Lama says it’s so much easier to then tackle the pain from the root upwards and nip it in the bud.
“So what do I do? Just wear it on my sleeve”
I also love this song because it ends on a really uplifting note of optimism, which is especially important during times like these, where all the uncertainty and turmoil can make the whole COVID-19 situation feel a bit hopeless.
Even though it might hurt more initially by confronting our problems head on, it’s worth it in the long-run, and it’ll no longer feel as though we’re bottling something up and having to hide how we’re feeling. That’s the theory at least, so let’s see if it works!
“It's fine, you're allowed to break, as long as you know, as long as you know, everything’s gonna be okay”