About this section:
In the course of one day, we experience so many emotions. Some,
such as genuine love and compassion, are valuable. Others, such
as attachment, anger, closed-mindedness, pride and jealously, disturb
our mental peace and lead us to act in ways that hurt ourselves
and others. These pieces help us to examine our disturbing attitudes
and negative emotions and to explore some antidotes to pacify and
It is easy to see how anxiety develops
because of so much focus on "me." There are over five
billion human beings on this planet, and zillions of other living
beings throughout the universe, but we make a big deal out of just
one of them -- me.
Last year, I did a retreat by myself for four weeks, so I had a
nice long time to spend with my own anxious mind and know it very
well. My guess is that it's similar to yours. My anxious mind picks
out something that happened in my life -- it does not make a difference
what it is. Then I spin it around in my mind, thinking, "Oh,
what if this happens? What if that happens? Why did this person
do this to me? How come this happened to me?" and on and on.
My mind could spend hours philosophizing, psychologizing and worrying
about this one thing. It seemed like nothing else in the world was
important but my particular melodrama.
I began to realize
it isn't the thing I am worrying about that is the difficulty. It
is my own mind that is looking for something to worry about. It
doesn't really matter what the problem is. If I'm habituated with
anxiety, I'll find a problem to worry about. If I can't find one,
then I'll invent one or cause one.
In other words, the real issue is not what
is happening outside, but what is happening inside of us.
our problems are pretty funny, aren't they? If we could step back
and look at our problems, many of them would seem quite humorous.
If a character in a soap opera had this problem or was acting this
way, we would laugh at it. Sometimes I do that: I step back and
look at myself, "Oh, look how Chodron feels so sorry for herself.
Sniff, sniff. There's so many sentient beings having so many different
experiences in the universe, and poor Chodron just stubbed her toe."
Look in your own life, when your
heart has been filled with genuine kindness toward others, have
you simultaneously been depressed and anxious? It's impossible.
have to train our mind in this broad attitude, expanding our care
from the small group of people around us so that it gradually is
extended to everyone -- those we know and those we don't, and especially
to those we don't like.
..start by thinking, "Everyone
wants to be happy, just like me, and nobody wants to suffer, just
like me." If we focus on that thought alone, there is no space
left for anxiety in our minds anymore. When we look at each living
being with this recognition and immerse our minds in that thought,
our mind will automatically become very open and caring. Try doing
this today. Whenever you are looking at people -- for example, when
you are in a shop, on the street, in a bus -- think, "This
is a living being that has feelings, someone who wants to be happy
and doesn't want to suffer. This person is just like me." You
will find that you will no longer feel that they are complete strangers.
You will feel like you know them in some way and will respect each
we learned throughout childhood and everything we keep learning
as adults -- every new thing that comes into our lives and enriches
us -- we receive due to the kindness of others.... So
many beings whom we don't know personally have done things that
have helped us.
Now I realize that I'm
glad this situation happened because it opened up a new direction
in my life. If this person had not
been so unkind to me, I would still be doing what I had done before
and would probably be stuck in a rut. But this person's actions
pushed me to be more creative. Although initially the situation
was very painful, in the long-term, it had a very good effect on
my life. It forced me to grow and to develop other talents. So,
even the people or situations that we feel are bad can turn out
to be good in the long run.
When we are in the middle of a problem,
we feel like nobody is helping us. We feel all alone with our problem.
But when we do this meditation, we can see that in fact, a lot of
people are helping us. More people could even help us if we would
open ourselves up to receive from them.
Kuan Yin. She looks at all sentient beings and wants them to be
happy. She does whatever she is capable of doing to take care of
all of us, but she does not get nervous, upset, worried or stressed
out. She is able to do what needs to be done to help others and
lets the rest go. We never hear of Kuan Yin getting depressed or
having anxiety attacks. She is able to handle everything that happens.
We can also become that way.