Fear Is Born From Arming Oneself.

A life filled with negativity is not created by bad luck or circumstances. It is created by a negative mind and beliefs. This mindset and belief was created by conditioning and habits of thinking both conscious and unconscious. If you want to be free from negativity in your life you must understand that it is your own mind that needs correcting not other people nor the circumstances in which you find yourself.

There are five toxic habits and beliefs that you must let go of if you really want to live a high quality and happy. Let go of the habit of

  • The habit of blame — the belief that it is always someone else’s fault.
  • The belief that successful people are motivated solely by greed and selfishness.
  • The habit of believing everything you hear — not having a mind of your own.
  • The belief that you need other people or someone else to complete you.
  • The habit of allowing money to control your decision-making process.

Blame is the habit of believing that when a problem arises in your life that it is someone else’s fault. Many people blame just about everyone or everything else for their circumstances, their own feelings, and for the fact that they aren’t where they want to be in their lives. By doing this they dis-empower themselves and make others, the one’s they blame, more important and much more powerful than they are themselves. You are the most important person in your life in blaming others you make the other more the primary force in your life. Yes, people do unpleasant things to us, that much is obvious, but it is not the “president’s” fault, your boss’ fault or your friends fault that you feel like a sack of excrement. That feeling is totally self-generated.

This kind of mental action is not only lacking wisdom but also irresponsible. By making someone else responsible for your happiness you have given up the responsibility you have for your own happiness and life decisions. Blaming others does not hurt the other, it only hurts yourself.

‘He       insulted me,

hit me,

beat me,

robbed me’

–for those who brood on this,

hostility isn’t stilled.

 

He insulted me,

hit me,

beat me,

robbed me’  —

for those who don’t brood on this,

hostility is stilled.

 

Hostilities aren’t stilled

through hostility,

regardless.

Hostilities are stilled

through non-hostility:

this, an unending truth.

— Dhammapada

Our irresponsibility causes us great mental pain. It through the power of letting go and simply moving on that we open ourselves to the possibility of living a happy and successful life. For better or worse, we all share the same president in the United States, while some might find it amusing to focus on the negative it is irrational and meaningless thinking. Far better to focus on your own path than the illusory misconducts of a fictitious person you are creating in your own mind. You might not like the president, your boss or the circumstances you find yourself in but you don’t have to allow these feelings to steal your energy. If you want positive results in your life it is completely up to you and no one else. If you want to feel a certain way the only person who controls whether you feel that way or not is you. If you feel that someone screwed you over it is you, and only you that chooses how you react and what you learn from the situation.

Ask yourself, “What did I do to allow this to happen?” Explore the role you play in your circumstances and in forming you emotional quality.  How can you avoid repeating these patterns in the future?  If you really want to be free you have to let go and accept where you are taking responsibility for what needs to be done to get where you want to be. You will never have a better life by blaming others. The issue of who was right and who was wrong is irrelevant. Letting go is the only way to move forward.

What is success? “Success is simply when you achieve a quality of life that you want for yourself.” (Earl Nightingale) Money a phony metric for success. Money can be part of the equation but success is not about monetary wealth. It’s not about accumulating material goods but material goods can be part of success. You get to define your own success, no one else gets to do that.

When we look at the list of toxic beliefs one is drawn to an obvious conclusion — all five revolve around blame. The habit of blame is obvious, but the belief that people are greedy is a way of blaming one’s own and other people’s attitude for one’s own lack of material wealth. “I’m not as greedy as so-and-so that’s why I can’t make it.” The habit of believing what we are told by others gives us the opportunity to blame someone else’s opinion if we fail. “But so-and-so told me that it works that way. It’s not my fault.” The belief that you need someone (soulmate?) to complete yourself is a lie we tell ourselves so we can blame our soulmate for not showing up or the universe for not providing us with a partner. Blaming poverty for our feelings of inadequacy is a cause for letting money to control our decision making.

In the Attadanda Sutta: Arming Oneself, found in the Sutta Nipata (4.15), the historical Buddha makes a statement that is counterintuitive to our Western culture, especially in this age of Trump. “Fear is born from arming oneself.” Blaming others is a way of armoring ourselves, or rather our ego, by shielding it from an accusation of fault. We can now feel better about our artificial self because it’s not responsible for the problems that beset it. These problems are caused by the narrative the ego is telling itself in the first place. In order to give the narrative credibility, the illusion must be created that it is someone or something else’s fault that our story does not have the happy ending the narrative demands.

If you or I are feeling badly or expressing negativity regarding our perceived situation than we have no one else to blame but ourselves. We wrote the narrative and directed the action of our life. No one is strong enough to trouble my mind, only I can do that. If I do that, I empower that other being and dis-empower myself. In other words, by blaming others I am acting out of weakness and fear.

Fear is born from arming oneself.

Just see how many people fight!

I’ll tell you about the dreadful fear

that caused me to shake all over:

 

Seeing creatures flopping around,

Like fish in water too shallow,

So hostile to one another!

— Seeing this, I became afraid.

 

This world completely lacks essence;

It trembles in all directions.

I longed to find myself a place

Unscathed — but I could not see it.

 

Seeing people locked in conflict,

I became completely distraught.

But then I discerned here a thorn

— Hard to see — lodged deep in the heart.

 

It’s only when pierced by this thorn

That one runs in all directions.

So, if that thorn is taken out —

one does not run, and settles down.

— Sutta Nipata 4.15

 

But the Buddha also gave us a way out of this dilemma. It sounds so radically easy on the face of it, but it is very difficult because of the lifetime of habitual thinking we’ve been conditioned to.

Who here has crossed over desires,

the world’s bond, so hard to get past,

he does not grieve; she does not mourn.

His stream is cut, she’s all unbound.

 

What went before — let go of that!

All that’s to come — have none of it!

Don’t hold on to what’s in between,

And you’ll wander fully at peace.

 

For whom there is no “I-making”

All throughout the body and mind,

And who grieves not for what is not

Is undefeated in the world.

 

For whom there is no “this is mine”

Nor anything like “that is theirs”

Not even finding “self-ness,” he

Does not grieve at “I have nothing.”

 

In order to find this place of bliss and remove the fear and intellectual poverty we’ve foisted upon ourselves we need to restrain the ego and stop the “I-making”. How is this to be done? Dogen Zenji put it so plainly, “To study the Buddha Way is to study the self (ego). To study the self is to forget (let go of) the self (ego). To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things. When actualized by myriad things, your body and mind as well as the bodies and minds of others drop away. No trace of enlightenment remains, and this no-trace continues endlessly.”

Our six senses spin threads of perception, which we weave into a tapestry called “myself and the world.” We then take this handiwork to be more solid and meaningful than it is, and get caught in its intricate patterns and colors. For those who are able to see through this illusory construction (an ability that comes in part from meditation), ordinary pleasures are seen as a snare that catches and reinforces the ego — that view we have of self as separate, from which so much suffering arises.

I’ll leave you with Buddha’s own formula for seeing through the tapestry of make believe.

Forms and sounds and flavors and smells

And touches and all mental states,

Are wished for, cherished and pleasing,

As long as it’s said that “They’re real.”

 

For the world and for its devas

These are equal to happiness;

Whereas when they come to an end…

This for them is equal to pain.

 

‘Happiness,’ viewed by the nobles,

Comes from restraining the ego.

This is just the opposite of

How it is seen by all the world.

 

That which is pleasant for others,

For the noble ones is painful.

And what for others is painful,

The noble ones know as pleasant.

 

Behold! A teaching hard to know.

The deluded are confused here.

Indeed, truer words have not been spoken.

 

About Sensei Mui

Sensei Mui is a Buddhist monk who took formal refuge and bhikkhu ordination as a Theravada monk in Thailand during the early 1970s. Since those days he has both studied and was ordained in multiple Mahayana lineages. Today the main focus of his practice and teaching is from the Pure Land perspective. He currently acts as the Director and Administrator for Hongaku Jodo, an educational and practice oriented organization of Buddhist teachers of Dharma, pure and simple.
This entry was posted in Buddhism, Core Teaching of the Buddha, Hongaku Jodo, Meditation, Rational Amidism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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