Sunday, October 6, 2013

Letting go of dread, letting go of suffering

After several stressful weeks at work, this weekend I was finally able to kick back and relax for a bit- at least in theory. However, instead of thoroughly enjoying my time, I was (like millions of other people) bothered by a nagging sense of dread about going back to work on Monday. Of course, this put a little bit of a damper on my enjoyment of this much-anticipated down time. 

Last night it finally clicked: There I was, relaxing and spending time with my husband when the dread came over me again. Instead of giving in, I stopped for a moment and thought about the feeling. Sure, I had experienced a stressful few weeks, where weekends were just days crammed with more work. I acknowledged that it may actually take some time to 'come down' from the frantic pace and the pressure I had been under. 

But most of all, I realized what was happening was the flip side of what I usually do, the behavior I am aware of; and that is avoiding unpleasantness. From a Buddhist perspective, this can be called aversion. When viewed in the context of the Second Noble Truth, that suffering is caused by tanha, or selfish craving, it is clear that aversion is just a way that we express tanha by avoiding how things really are because of our own self-centered view of how they should be. Thus, we suffer.  

However, this time my dread was not motivated by aversion, but rather attachment, which is really another facet of tanha. When we experience something pleasurable, we hold on to it in our mind, grasping at the pleasure and fun because we never want it to end. But we know it will, and as we are reminded of this fact, we suffer. 

It is not that I have never done this, or that I no longer am prone to attachment (far from it!), but that in many ways I (thought I) had become better at enjoying myself in the moment because I had also become more accepting of the impermanent nature of all things, especially the good ones. Yet there I was this weekend, suffering as I grasped at joyous moments- and suffering in the moments between! 

My conclusion? I can only guess that this attitude is a product of stress, and that I need to find a way to deal with it. Moreover, I also suspect that my heightened feelings of attachment are directly (perhaps even proportionally) related to the strong aversion I felt towards that stress, indicating that as far as tanha goes, attachment and aversion seem inseparably - and profoundly- linked.  

What can you say about your experience with aversion and attachment? Do you agree they are linked in the way I described? Any advice? 
May all beings be happy! 

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