Reality troubles me like anyone else. I find it hard to accept that which I disagree with, or I can see causes suffering the suffering I witness.
My answer to all this has been a mixture of anger, frustration, and withdrawal from the world.
But this in no way to live, to try a separate ourselves from the unpleasant aspects of this world will only leave us isolated from the wonderful parts and leave us feeling lost and alone.
One response is to try and eliminate those aspects we find hard to accept or bear. To eliminate enemies, destroy reputations, belittle, dehumanise and stereotype those who disagree.
The same goes with aspects of ourselves we don’t find acceptable, hatred, anger, jealousy, envy, emotions that reveal our selfish, cruel and malicious side. The part of ourselves we don’t like to admit. So we deny their existence, distract ourselves from these emotions, or blame others for our bad behaviour.
What we’re doing here is we are trying to split the world up into parts and only accept what we feel happy or comfortable with.
The problem here is our ideas about reality. We seem to think that the world should conform to our expectations, and when it doesn’t we blame the cosmos or more likely another demographic.
It’s an ego-centric attitude and the result is intolerance bitterness, anger, frustration. This can cause us to act appalling towards others. Because we only see the world through the lenses of our own need and prejudices.
Things have to be good, the world has to get better, what is right and just must prevail (or at least what we consider to be right, moral and just), because I’m the good guy here.
To look upon the world with disdain and contempt will leave us unwell from the stress and loneliness such a viewpoint brings. (Think like Scrooge from a Christmas Carol)
What troubles me is the single vision ethos. The fanaticism that leaves no room for diversity, or contrary voices or opinions or ways of living. Perfectionism also has to be one of the worst ideas, because in no way can we live up to it, and the cosmos has no obligation to do so.
Acceptance = Harmony
The solution is to take your ego out of the equation.
The world and your life are complex and fascinating. Accept the bitterness, the sour, the unpleasant, the imperfect, because they are just as much a part of life as the noble, the good, right and true.
The world is like a package deal, you have to accept the good with the bad.
This does not mean submitting to the bad behaviour of others. But getting angry or depressed as I have in the past will only leave you lacking any kind of peace. Not to mention poor health.
To those you disagree with remember, they have the right to have an opinion as you do, and the right to express it. To deny yours, and all that’s left is people on a rampage, trying to sanitise the world of anything they find disagreeable.
Our expectations are the cause of suffering. The hopelessly idealistic attitudes and the arrogant notions that the world must conform to them.
Life, existence is about suffering, to deny this is to deny life. Worse is to blame others and never once accept our part in creating the suffering we witness.
We should recognise diversity and complexity is the basis of reality. Yes I know we all desire simple answers, and easy to find solutions.
But we are all complex individuals, living in a complex world. To deny this is to leave our ideas divorced from reality. Lead to us making bad decisions.
It’s accepting that complexity and nuance of ourselves and the world at large leads us better able to deal with it.
Victory vs Harmony
It can come down to our worldview, what we believe is going on about existence and how best to live it.
In the west we characterise life as a struggle of good vs evil, with the aim is for good to destroy evil. You can see this if the art we create. Stories and films, it’s the good guys who win and live happily ever after.
Yet the real world is different. The bad guys live on, they might get punished for their crimes but they still get to have a voice.
Instead, we demonise our enemies, dehumanise then, claim they are not worthy and characterise existence as the endless war against evil, peddling fear and creating division.
Contrast this with the far eastern religions who see the aim not to destroy their enemies through victory but to be in balance with them.
Their goal is harmony not victory. A smooth balance of different forces that result in peace and tranquillity. Enemies become allies because we can learn from them, and their perspective may be just as valid as our own.
This doesn’t mean speaking out against what you oppose, but the point is you never try to eliminate opposing viewpoints.
If you wonder why in the west there so much conflict in the world, look no further than our worldview. Conflict is at the heart of how life should be lived according to our philosophical heritage.
In the book, the Powers at Be, Walter Wink explains the Myth of Redemptive Violence. It’s the narrative he western worldview of west operates under dating back to ancient Babylon. The ideas violence makes things right. That through battle, the right side wins.
Thinking you are in the right and the victory is your right is to live with an over-inflated sense of your own importance. This is the danger of that kind of thinking in that diversity of beliefs and different ideas must be eliminated.
The consequences of trying to eliminate the unwanted and ugly parts of life can be counterproductive. Trying to get rid of unpleasant emotions, like fear and anxiety can result in them being felt more intensely. Staying away from contrary ideas an opinions leaves us ignorant of our foibles and shortcomings.
This world is full of conflict and sorrow, pain and suffering. Of disagreements, and contrary ideas. How we respond to the fact determine or not if we will contribute to this suffering or help ameliorate it.
The why is because ego gets in the way. It’s a mind that thinks of itself and having the right way the only way.
I learned that to be happy and successful you need to take the needy ego out of the equation. Love life and yourself in all it’s diversity and difference, not just the parts we deem acceptable.
Blaming others didn’t help me become better at living or address my suffering, and may have helped perpetuate it.
Think of it as a reintegration with all of existence, not just the part we enjoy. It’s a reminder that all things are interconnected.
Acceptance is a major part of the Buddhist way and what they teach. We don’t get to decide how the world works, we can only learn to live in it.
Suffering and death are part of life, they give it value and meaning. We need to remind ourselves of them as a way of keeping us focused on what’s important.
A lot of our suffering is due to our own incompetence in living, yet here we are blaming others for our mistakes. Accepting that suffering is a part of life and that it’s down to me in how I respond was one of the biggest steps I had to take.
The world is a package deal and intolerance is no way to live a happy life.