Friday, October 31, 2008

Michael Benton: Learning From the Dahlai Lama?

(A blog post got me thinking...)

Recently I read something from the Dahlai Lama about attempting to, just for seven days, resist thinking any negative thoughts about any other person. He stated that in a competitive, consumer society we are conditioned to focus on the negative and that this is destructive to our psyches and communal well-being.

At first I said well that is fucking ridiculous there are too many idiots and assholes for me to resist thinking negative thoughts... but then I reflected on what my statement said about myself.

So I decided I would try it. The first day was a disaster... no luck, OK, I would do it an hour at a time-very difficult (I work on a busy campus and I do run into a lot of people...). Manageable, but strangely I noticed how easily my mind could laspe into negative feelings/thoughts and that even as I worked to develop a positive outlook about current events/relationships, past events would begin to seep into my consicousness and would assail my defenses... what about when this happened, or when I failed to do this, or when this person let me down, or the countless people I have hurt in my lifetime...

Despite the periods of pain this exercise has caused me, I have been noticing more moments of pure happiness and delight in life--I am also more conscious of how my negative thoughts are a conditioned reflex (often unconscious) and that I can choose to be happier.

I'm an old school existentialist who is suspicious of bliss, but I am learning to enjoy myself more... hopefully I can spread some of that joy.

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