Sunday, October 22, 2006

Non-attachment redux redux

There are some interesting comments on my previous post. Blogblah! and JohnX got me to thinking more about the attachment I have to negative emotions.

This runs counter to my other 'big thing' – the 'don't know mind' approach – but in this case, I think knowing at least a little can help me be rid of the attachment(s).

Of course, what I'm about to write isn't knowledge, it's assumption... but here it is anyway.

We all have things happen in our lives that aren't fair. Sometimes we're able to get 'justice' or 'satisfaction' or some other sort of balancing of the scales. But sometimes we're not able to have that – unless we're very wealthy or very powerful, we sometimes get screwed and we just have to smile and shrug and go on.

In that case, hanging on to the indignation or anger or rage is one way of at least validating to oneself that the wrong did occur and that I (or you, or whoever) should have been treated more fairly. I (or you, or whoever) can hang on to negative emotion as a way of believing we're not some inconsequential insects upon whom others can can step at will without fear or consequences – even though in truth that's a fact of life for most of us at one time or another.

I hung onto my rage against my abusive boss for years in part because he got away with it time and time again. Years later, long he had left the state, I finally realized that every time I dwelt on that anger against him it was like he got to yank my chain again by remote control. And I finally quit.

From the non-dualistic Buddhist POV, there is no "I" to be wronged, so the anger is wrapped up in something that is almost a hallucination.

If we decided to indulge rage and anger over being victimized, few people would have more cause for doing so than the Buddhists of Tibet, who were murdered, forced from their homes and even their country by the Chinese communists... or the Vietnamese Buddhists who fled the communists in their country. But you don't see the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh howling with outrage over the way they and their people have been treated, because they have internalized the very thing I understand intellectually, but which is not yet part of my basic personality makeup.

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