Ven. Chodron - hindrances to mental cultivation/metta
- "One big topic of rumination is past hurts. 'I was so hurt when my
spouse said xyz.' 'I worked so hard for the company but they didn't
appreciate me.' 'My parents criticized the way I look,' and on and
on. We have an excellent memory for all the times others have
disturbed or disappointed us and can dwell upon these hurts for
hours, reliving painful situations again and again in our minds. What
is the result? We get stuck in self-pity and depression.
"Another topic is past anger. We repeatedly go over who said what in
a quarrel, analyzing its every detail, getting more and more agitated
the longer we contemplate it. When we sit to meditate, concentrating
on the object of meditation is difficult. But when we reflect on an
argument, our concentration is great! In fact, we can sit in perfect
meditation posture, looking very peaceful externally, but burning
with anger inside as we single-pointedly remember past situations
without getting distracted for even a minute. When the meditation
bell rings at the end of the session, we open our eyes and discover
that the event we spent the last half hour contemplating is not
happening here and now. In fact, we're in a safe place with nice
people. What is the effect of ruminating on anger? Clearly, it's more
anger and unhappiness.
"When we ruminate on feelings of being misunderstood, it is as if we
were chanting a mantra, 'My friend doesn't understand me. My friend
doesn't understand me.' We convince ourselves of this; the feeling
becomes solid, and the situation looks hopeless. The result? We feel
alienated, and we unnecessarily back away from those we want to be
close to because we're convinced they never will understand us. Or we
may spill our neediness over the other person in an attempt to make
them understand us in the way we want to be understood . . .
"The only time we ever have to live is now. The only time that
spiritual practice is done is now. If we're going to cultivate love
and compassion, it has to be in the present moment, because we don't
live in any other moment. So, even though the present is constantly
changing, it's all we have. Life happens now. Our past glories are
simply that. Our past hurts are not happening now. Our future dreams
are simply future dreams. The future tragedies we concoct do not
exist at this time. '
~ Ven. Thubten Chodron, "Ruminating"
May this be of benefit.