Human suffering is the result of resisting reality. Yes, we must fight, but at some point, there is nothing more that can be done. Ongoing dissatisfaction, resistance, then serves no purpose other than to make us suffer.
This video is part twenty-two of twenty-six excerpts from a presentation hosted by SOUL Food Salon in March 2019.
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Resisting reality is another big theme that I see in my work. Too many times, and Buddhists bring this up as well, and there’s the fact that you woke up, it’s your birthday and it’s raining. You could sit there and you could have a terrible time about it, but the reality is that that won’t change the rain. The other way I look at it is with children, children going to the pediatrician’s office. It can be a very different experience for two kids. One kid could come in there and say, “All right, let’s just get the shot and I’m out of here. Give me a lollipop. Thank you.” And then there’s the kid that’s like, “Ah,” scrunched up in fear and tense. They’re both going to get the shot. It’s going to happen. The reality is that resisting when resistance serves no purpose, only results in suffering. The Chinese philosopher claims suffering equals pain times resistance. The root of human suffering is really resisting.
I ask all of you, sure, as you go through life, ask yourself, is there anything I can really change in this situation because if there isn’t, get your feelings out of the way a little bit and just accept what it is. Consistent with the Chinese finger trap, I also want to talk about the fact that your resistance sometimes gives things power. The more you fight something, don’t think about pink elephants, right, the more you fight something, the worse it can be and the more power you give it. This is manifested in my work. I see it often.
I’ll tell you guys a quick story. People with panic attacks, the biggest fear is having another panic attack and you ask them, “What’s going to happen?”, and they say, “Oh, I don’t know. I might lose my mind and get hospitalized and carried out on a stretcher.” I ask them, “How many times has that happened in your life?” “None.” But it’s that very fear of, “Oh, I don’t know. I don’t know. What if … ,” that keeps it going. Insomnia is the same kind of Chinese finger-trap problem where, oh, if you woke up this morning and you’re already obsessing about how you’re going to sleep tonight, it’s not going to go well.
A lot of things, the more you force them and the more you insist on them being a certain way, the more they resist you and the more power you give them. That’s where, for me, I fall back on the serenity prayer. I need to get this printed and put up in the waiting room, even though I’m not religious, but this is important. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” As you go through life, ask yourself can you change the circumstance that you’re presented with? And if you can’t, resisting it doesn’t serve any purpose and you’re better off putting your energy somewhere else.