What stops us being truly happy, calm, peaceful and free from suffering all of the time? Well, my weekly trip to the Buddhist centre this week reminded me that it’s not an easy task to keep control of the mind. The mind likes to play games. The mind likes to take you on road trips and detours over rough terrains and down dark alleys. We are the foolish willing participants, being easily led astray. Better hold on tight!
So Buddha says that delusions are states of mind that get the better of us and make us do and say the stupid stuff. (He would have said it smarter than that) The definition of delusional in the dictionary states that we are holding on to idiosyncratic beliefs or impressions that are contradicted by reality or rational argument, typically as a symptom of mental disorder. Is Buddha saying we are all a little bit mental?
Someone wise once said to me that he loves his wife very much but doesn’t always love her behaviour. Someone wiser said that she is amazed by our culture and our ability to dislike people so strongly for the slightest reason. Our need to be right, to not feel short-changed or wronged is so strong that we often feel unable to see any good in a person or situation even if we have decades of happy memories and the deepest of love for them. That does sound pretty mental.
Yesterday I took my daughter to her riding lesson; I had the weirdest overwhelming urge to cry, I felt like my dead stepdad was right there with us proud as could be. I am famous for my overactive tear ducts but it felt powerfully odd, even embarrassing. Which led to a discussion on the drive home with my clever daughter about, should I be less me. Should I be more Buddha-like? Lydia is studying philosophy and ethics for her A levels so she is no stranger to debate, Buddhism and no stranger to me.
Sometimes I feel like I am too easily drawn into the web of delusions that Buddha speaks of, easily hurt with way too many expectations and high principles (Becki says it’s a Capricorn thing) It’s not that I am judgemental, it’s more about a longing for people to want to do the right thing. Perhaps that is why I love the little people. They have such purity and honesty, uncorrupted by all that is to come. (Miles don’t get big!) I’m just following the guidelines to treat others as you wish to be treated. Trouble is my reaction to being let down is as excessive as my need to do what’s right. Not very Buddhist I know. Which is wrong isn’t it?
But that’s me being delusional.
Lydia says I can’t be anything other than myself, engulfed in happiness, and cheering everyone on like some motivational speaker or saddened and disappointed and maybe a little too brutally honest. Surely it’s not good to suppress the hurt. But equally, does it really do any good to hold on to it. I was pretty physically and emotionally stressed over the Christmas period and my chakras were not in a good way!!! No, I guess the trick is to release and move on. But that’s hard for us humans, especially women. We are so emotionally charged. Lydia just finds it funny when my dark side comes out as long as it’s not directed at her; aren’t we warped little creatures.
So Steve (my Buddhist teacher) explained how delusions of the mind create us a whole heap of problems. That our behaviour and that of others that we encounter is overrun with delusional activity. As everything is just a perception of how we feel about something on any given day (which let’s face it often changes) can we get control over our minds better if we try a little harder? Don’t we all want some calm and peace? Do we really need to give so much inappropriate attention to the things that trouble us? Does anger, fear, jealousy and a need to self cherish always have to be the winners? Admittedly they play dirty. Where does that need to react come from within us? They say that sometimes silence is the best answer, but again it’s hard, isn’t it?
Is it easier to forgive yourself for delusional outbursts than it is to forgive others for theirs? I think yes.
Steve pointed out how we protect our outer shells from harm. If a piece of glass was embedded in our skin would we push it in farther jiggle it around? Nope, we’d want it out of there! And yet we gain some sort of twisted pleasure in picking at the internal scabs within our minds. What we need to do is find a way to let them heal.
The key apparently is meditation, yes meditation is the answer. Thank Buddha for that.
Let’s question what’s behind our reactions; they say that most negative reactions are fear based. Let’s remember that we love that person but may not always like their behaviour or even our own at times; can we be more forgiving? Let us be the driver of our own journey, let’s take the scenic route with the hood down. And remember we are all a little bit mental at times. If you do find yourself in a heated argument, tell them they’re delusional. That will do the trick.
I’m off to meditate