Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Please Don't Stop the Rain

Below a section from a book my brother and belle-soeur got me for Christmas a couple of years ago - 'The Art of Happiness' by the Dalai Lama. I have ad-libbed a bit and I hope the Dalai does not mind me transcribing a few of his wise thoughts on my blog. HH Dalai Lama, or the author Howard Cutler: if you're reading this and you do mind, please let me know:

Although pain and suffering are universal human phenomena, that doesn't mean we have an easy time accepting them. Human beings have devised a vast repertoire of strategies for avoiding having to experience suffering. Sometimes we use external means, such as chemicals - deadening or medicating our emotional pain with drugs and alcohol. We have an array of internal mechanisms as well - psychological defences, often unconscious, that buffer us from feeling too much emotional pain or anguish when we are confronted with problems. Sometimes these defence mechanisms can be quite primitive, such as simply refusing to recognise that a problem exists.

At other times, we may vaguely recognise that we have a problem but immerse ourselves in a million distractions or entertainments to avoid thinking about it. Or, we might use projection - unable to accept we have a problem, we unconsciously project it onto others and blame them for our suffering.

Suffering can only be avoided temporarily. But like a disease that's left untreated, the disease invariably worsens. The high from drugs/food/alcohol can certainly ease pain for a while, but continued use will do physical damage to our bodies, social life and the people and environment around us. The internal psychological defences like denial or repression may shield and protect us from feeling the pain a little longer, but it still doesn't make the suffering disappear.

It's a good book, I recommend it.

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