Who Am I and Who Are We?
Recently I heard my daughter, Li Kheng, in conversation with her friend at lunch:
“There is a bright side and a dark side to our personality.”
That statement shifted my thoughts to what I said years ago after completing an adult experiential training class:
“Mastery of Life is our control over the duality of our Mind.”
At this point, I checked in to see if I had a dual personality or even schizophrenia. It sounds harsh to think of myself as being schizophrenic. But honestly, do we have people experiencing us differently and sometimes the difference is so pronounced that they may be talking to two different people?
Oh yes, on checking in with myself, I did notice that in circumstances which are within my perception of “DISLIKE”, I react and out comes anger, frustration, depression and the justification to prove I am right.
This makes me experience hot flashes and heart pounding. This will definitely be the nasty or dark side of me.
In the opposite direction, if the circumstances or events or even comments are within my arena of “LIKE”, I will be most pleasant and qualities like kindness, love and care will surface. When the niceties are big enough, I will also feel hot flashes and heart pounding.
NOTICE, THE PHYSICAL EXPERIENCE IS THE SAME.
If you have ever experienced what I described above, then no doubt we might as well conclude that we have dual personalities controlled by our emotions which are constantly on a roller coaster ride, causing feelings of happiness and sadness.
This being the case, doesn’t it mean that our so-called happiness and sadness are not states within the control of our mind but of our emotions and past experiences, which form our perceptions and govern our frame of mind?
More importantly, would we then say that our state of mind is not within our own control but governed by third parties and external forces?
The stainless and faultless teachings of Shakymuni Buddha state that we need to be “neutral” in any and all circumstances in order that we may create an environment whereby it is both peaceful and calm for sentient beings in the space and time, to be conscious of the eight worldly concerns and to be guarded so as to not fall into the trap of imprisonment.
Another impactful learning I cherish from the Dharma is that regardless of whoever we are perceived to be, we are naturally of the Buddha nature. It is to find the method as taught in the Dharma to be of the nature that will be good for our state of being and for those in our space.
- Quest for happiness and fear of suffering
- Quest for fame and fear of insignificance
- Quest for praise and fear of blame
- Quest for gain and fear of loss
Does being neutral mean not caring or is it about forgetting the self (and all the emotional baggage and judgments) and to be whatever it takes in order for the circumstances to be better for all?
That would mean letting go of whatever emotional attachments we have and be focused on what is needed and be of help to improve the situation.
That would also mean to be accepting of what may be positive or negative in our perception and be willing to see if changes are necessary on our part so that others will have a better experience of us.
At this point, it seems to be extremely daunting to continue writing as I am no medical expert on neurology nor psychology but I have something that helps:
Eight Verses of Thought Transformation
With the thought of attaining Enlightenment
For the welfare of all beings,
Who are more precious than a wish–fulfilling jewel,
I will constantly practise holding them dear.
Whenever I am with others,
I will practise seeing myself as the lowest of all,
And from the very depths of my heart
I will respectfully hold others as supreme.
In all actions I will examine my mind
And the moment a disturbing attitude arises,
Endangering myself or others,
I will firmly confront and avert it.
Whenever I meet a person of bad nature,
Overwhelmed by negative energy and intense suffering,
I will hold such a rare one dear
As if I’ve found a precious treasure.
When others out of jealousy,
Mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on,
I will practise accepting defeat
And offering the victory to them.
When someone I have benefited and in whom
I have placed great trust hurts me very badly,
I will practise seeing that person
As my supreme teacher.
In short, I will offer directly and indirectly
Every benefit and happiness to all beings, my mothers.
I will practise in secret taking upon myself
All their harmful actions and sufferings.
Without these practices being defiled
By the stains of the eight worldly concerns,
By perceiving all phenomena as illusory,
I will practise without grasping to release all beings
From the bondage of the disturbing unsubdued mind and karma.
Not an easy task to master but with a small step each day, we will strike the balance with wisdom to be at peace within and create a peaceful environment wherever we are, and my greatest wish is to create a peaceful and hate free world.
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