Monday, 5 October 2015


Today, I was briefly party to a discussion in which person A was upset because person B had become upset and accusatory over a trifle.

I remarked (now unwisely I see) that one must always take responsibility for one's reactions: if my reaction is unpleasant or objectionable to me, I am responsible for that reaction, and it is no good saying that the other person is immoral, unkind, tactless, undignified, or whatever else.

The reason I say unwisely is that this proposition, namely that I am responsible, is unpopular and, to most, literally frightful. Naturally, someone interjected how person B was quite wrong to get upset and accusatory, therefore person A was quite entitled to be upset himself, and there was a chorus of general agreement.

I stayed silent at this point.

There is a curious phenomenon in the world: the choice in favour of suffering. When a philosophy or approach to life is offered that itself offers a solution to suffering, it is typically rejected by the majority, who are offended and threatened by the proposition that their suffering may be self-created.

They would prefer to continue suffering than to admit that their worldview is wrong.

I surmise this to be the case, as I was once like that, and I have seen it in countless people I have attempted to help out of this predicament.

The truth, therefore, is this: in many cases, the suffering that people complain of is not really suffering. It is a cherished mode of being, a shield against what is perceived as a far greater threat: that of moral obligation, responsibility, and a complete shattering of the egoic glass menagerie of hurt feelings on which identity is based.

Next time you are suffering, ask yourself, do you really want the suffering to end? Are you really willing to change your perception and, in the process, lose all of your identity as a victim, and with it your main purchase on the material world?

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