Delusion Profusion: The Many Ways that Aversion and Craving Arise

Aversion and craving are two major delusions that we frequently fall prey to. Both of these delusions deny the miracle of the now. Aversion energetically fights, resists, and runs away from it. Craving greedily clings to the things in our life, being unwilling to let them change, as is their nature to do. Craving also devalues the now in pursuit of bigger and better in the future.

All of this unwillingness to accept and appreciate the truth of the now as it is, results in our suffering and unskillful behavior. This is why it is helpful to be on the lookout for craving and aversion when they arise, so you can learn how they work and learn how to let them go.

Both aversion and clinging are umbrella terms that point to the many forms that craving and aversion take. This article is to introduce you to these various forms as well as discuss ways to skillfully address them. We start by looking at the various forms of aversion.

The Many Faces of Aversion

Aversion in an umbrella term for delusions that fight, resist, and run away from our experience. We feel it as fear, anxiety, hatred, anger, sadness, numbness, and other emotions. Aversion-based delusions include: judgment, hatred, cruelty, disqualifying the positive, should statements, blaming and complaining, jealousy, doubt, apathy, and denial. Let’s address each one now.

The Tunnel Vision of Judgment

Let’s start by investigating judgment. If I showed you a mostly red handkerchief, that had accents of black and white in it, and asked you what color it was, what would you say? If you answered, “red, black, and white.” You are correct!

In contrast, Judgment would pick one color and insist the handkerchief is that color. Let’s say it decided the handkerchief was white. It would argue it’s case by pointing to all of the white spots on the handkerchief as evidence that it is white. Judgment will get mad at anyone who points out that the handkerchief is mostly red and has some black on it.

Judgment is delusional because it defines ourselves, others, or situations exclusively by their perceived negative or unskillful aspects. “I’m a loser.” “She’s a jerk!” “This is boring.” In doing this, our ego ignores all that is skillful, beautiful, praiseworthy, and wholesome in ourselves, others, and the situation. Therefore judgment is not the full truth. It is a relative understanding that is delusional. Judgment insists that a red, black, and white handkerchief is “white.”

From this distorted definition, judgment then makes value judgments of how worthy or unworthy of love someone is. Here is a look at judgment from the two perspectives of egoic view and wise view to contrast them.

Egoic View

People are either good or bad, superior or inferior. My judgment is largely based on how they make me feel. If they upset me, they are bad and inferior. If they make me happy, they are good and superior. Of course, I would never admit that my judgments are based on my subjective feelings. Instead, I offer lots of other “reasons” to hide this reality from myself so I feel more justified in mistreating those I judge to be bad and inferior.

Wise View

Ideas like “superior” and “inferior” life forms are unskillful and unkind falsehoods that arise from the ego. In truth, we are all one. We are all interconnected and interdependent upon each other. For us to thrive, all life must thrive. All life is a manifestation of the one life, which is boundless, unconditional love. All life belongs and is worthy of our love.

Egoic View

Good people are superior and deserve special treatment. Bad people are inferior, unworthy, and undeserving.

Wise View

All life belongs. All life matters. All life is worthy of our love.

Egoic View

Bad people and beings do not deserve care, respect, peace, or happiness. They need to be shamed, persecuted, punished, imprisoned, abused, or killed.

Wise View

People who behave unskillfully are lost in ego and thus are products of their unfortunate, yet impersonal conditioning. Our love and compassion will help them know their own true self of unconditional love and help heal them from their delusions.

Egoic View

Punishment is needed to encourage bad people to quit being bad.

Wise View

Love and compassion helps heal those who suffer in the grips of delusion.

Judgment Creates a False Hierarchy

Judgment sees the judged beings as unworthy of care, respect, peace, and happiness. It ignores the fact that they are one with us, that they share our same essential nature of unconditional love. Judgment creates a false hierarchy of those who are worthy, deserving, and superior, and those who are unworthy, undeserving, and inferior.

In this hierarchy, the ego either ignores the valid needs of those deemed unworthy (which is the delusion of apathy), or actively seeks to harm, punish, berate, and persecute them (which are the delusions of hatred and cruelty). From the delusion of judgment, all prejudice, persecution, injustice, and violence is born.

Judgment lacks the wise view that sees we are all one interdependent and interconnected whole. When we recognize our inter-relatedness with all life, it becomes clear that in order for me and my family and friends to thrive, all life must thrive.

Bodily Civil War?

If all of the universe was a human body, each life form would represents a cell in that body. In a healthy human body, all cells love and serve one another. As a result, all cells thrive, and the body thrives. But what happens if we introduced the delusion of judgment into the body?

Suddenly, all of the organs now argue over who is superior and who is inferior. The brain judges the rest of the organs to be idiots who couldn’t function without his superior intelligence and guidance. The heart resents the brain for its superiority complex, but thinks itself superior because it pumps blood to the all of the other parts of the body, which allows them to live. The blood judges the heart to be a muscle-bound meathead who lacks the finesse to perform the intricate exchange of gases, nutrients, and wastes with billions of cells like the clearly superior blood does. On and on the judgment, resentment, and hatred build, until finally there is civil war.

The heart, blood, and arteries strike up a tenuous alliance to wipe out the blight that is the stomach and intestines. They judged the stomach and intestines to be so dirty, gross, and inferior, that they had to be exterminated. Collectively the alliance cut off blood supply to the stomach and intestines, killing them. In the days ahead, every cell in the body suffered as waste products clogged the cells. Many other cells died of starvation since the body was no longer able to digest and distribute nutrients. As widespread cell death occurred, some organs started to fail, and not long after, the entire body, and all cells in it, died.

Granted, imagining such a scenario is ludicrous. A civil war within the body makes no sense because it ensures the death of the body and all of its cells. It is downright delusional to think that any cell or organ could benefit from such an endeavor. In the same way, our judgment of each other makes no sense. We are all in this together. When we love, respect, and joyfully serve one another, we all benefit and thrive.

When the delusion of judgment is active in our mind, we know because we experience an emotional disturbance. When judgment is active, we feel self-righteousness, superiority, anger, hatred, bitterness, resentment, and similar emotions.

Rather than seeing these emotions as a warning that we are lost in delusion, the ego blames someone or something external to us as the “cause” of the emotions. Then the ego in its delusion then seeks to punish and persecute those mistaken to be the cause of their disturbance. The ego believes punishing the bad guys is the best way to get what it wants. In reality, judging and harming others prevents us from getting the peace, harmony, and joy that we week.

Judgment Leads to the Deepening Delusions of Hatred and Cruelty

This is how judgment leads to the deeper aversive states of hatred and cruelty. Hatred is wishing someone harm. It is the opposite of kindness, which wishes others the best in everything. The aversion of hatred leads to the even deeper aversion of cruelty. Cruelty is actively seeking to harm someone. Cruelty, which is so contrary to our loving nature, can only be done by people deeply lost and confused by egoic delusion.

To summarize, judgment defines another as “bad,” “wrong,” “worthless,” or “no good” based on aspects of them, which may or may not be true. It is delusional because it ignores the wise view and universal truth that all is worthy of our love and affection. Judgment then creates a false hierarchy in our mind of who deserves of our love, and who does not. When the ego falsely deems someone “inferior” the ego believes they should be persecuted, harmed, exploited, and/or killed.

Judgment: The Destroyer of Life

To summarize, judgment thinks some people (or life forms) are better than others. Judgment thinks that some people (or life forms) are more deserving than others. Judgment thinks that some people (or life forms) are so bad that they need to be despised, punished, abused, killed, or otherwise eliminated.

In short, judgment justifies harming other people or life forms. Judgment is the root delusion behind all prejudice, violence, injustice, wars, environmental destruction, cruelty to animals, and so on. Given the serious consequences of judgment, we must be vigilant in ridding ourselves of this delusion.

Judgment vs. Discernment

Yet you might be wondering: if we do not judge others, how do we know what is skillful from what is not? We can do this with what we call discernment.

Judgment assumes people who do unskillful things deserve to be punished. On the other hand discernment objectively distinguishes between skillful (beneficial to all life) and unskillful (harmful to self and others) actions, while honoring the inherent dignity, worth, and value of all life, regardless of whether their actions are skillful or unskillful.

The path of love requires us to develop a high level of discernment so we may do our best to always be skillful out of a love for all life. We do not to use this discernment as a weapon to judge, hurt, or condemn others.

Yes, there are many people who behave unskillfully inflicting death, rape, and violence of all kinds. That said, we must never allow our discernment to arouse in us the desire to punish, harm, kill, or cause suffering to those who perpetuate unskillful actions. To do so would be to fall prey to the same delusion of judgment that inspired their harmful actions. Instead, we are called to respond with love and compassion for all life, including the lives of those perpetuating the harms.

People who cause others to suffer are suffering. They suffer under the tyranny of delusion. By showing them unconditional love and compassion, we help them come out of their delusion and out of their misery, and live more skillfully.

We Respond to Murderers with Love?

Does this mean we never restrain or imprison people who do violence? Not at all. At times, people enslaved by judgment are prone to violence, and out of love for all life, they need to be lovingly restrained to prevent them from harming others. Once they are safe from harming themselves and others, however, the healing forces of love and compassion are needed to help these people heal.

We teach them love and compassion by showing them love and compassion. Through our unconditional love for them, we help them reconnect with their essence of boundless love for all life. In this way, our love and compassion helps them see the truth that all life is valuable and worthy of love and care.

Ideally, our justice system and prisons seek to reform and rehabilitate people by modeling and showing kindness, compassion, and love. Discernment will help us distinguish when our justice system is used to punish, verses when it is used to rehabilitate.

Having talked about the harms of judgment, let’s now turn to look at three agape arsenal techniques that will help us let go of the delusion of judgment: Imagine the Innocent Infant Inside; “If Not for My Good Fortune, That Would Be Me;” and Blame Flipping.

Imagine the Innocent Infant Inside

The nonviolent civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s needed its activists to remain calm, peaceful, and kind despite receiving insults and violent attacks from segregationists and police officers. Civil rights leaders trained activists in a technique to help them develop compassion for their abusive opponents. We call this agape arsenal technique Imagine the Innocent Infant Inside.

It works like this: Imagine the unskillful person as they were when they were a pure, innocent, newborn baby. All people, no matter how violent or deluded they behave now, were once innocent newborn babies. No one is born hating, despising, and wanting to harm or kill others. Now imagine what abuse, fear, and terror this baby must have experienced growing up to become so distorted and confused? Who were the adults in their life, and how must those adults have treated them for them to think such harmful behavior is appropriate? Imagine how much they must be suffering from fear, arrogance, and hatred, to think that their violent actions make sense? People filled with such hatred and cruelty are suffering immensely and in need of our love and compassion.

This technique helps transforms our perspective. It shifts us from an egoic view where our ego judges them to be mean and cruel; into a wise view, where we see them as victims of circumstances that were outside of their control. We see that they suffered circumstances that warped, injured, and harmed them. We see that they are also in need healing, and the only power strong enough to heal them is love.

This is why Jesus, after being tortured and nailed to the cross, looked out at his persecutors and said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” He had no hatred or ill will towards his persecutors, only compassion. He realized they were all victims of circumstances; victims of their conditioned delusions. Knowing how delusions cause us all to suffer, he offered them his loving compassion.

“If Not for My Good Fortune, That Would Be Me”

Another way to let go of judgment is with the slogan, “If not for my good fortune, that would be me.” This basically means, if I had had their parents, their upbringing, their experiences, and their conditioning, I would be behaving just as unskillfully as they are.

This slogan encapsulates the conditioned, lawful, cause-and-effect nature of our delusions, as well as the impersonal nature of our conditioning. Recognizing the lawful, conditioned, impersonal nature of our ego helps us avoid self-righteousness, keeps us humble, and aids us in letting go of our judgment towards others.

Agape Arsenal Technique: Blame Flipping.

Blame flipping turns thoughts of blame into thoughts of compassion. Blame flipping is another form of mental jiu-jitsu.

Blaming thoughts sound like this: “You abused me. You harmed me. You betrayed me. You are mean, bad, and evil. You are going to pay for what you did.” These kinds of blaming, judgmental thoughts lead to anger, hostility, ill will, cruelty, and unskillfulness.

Mindfully notice when such judgmental thoughts arise. Notice the emotions and feelings that arise in the body in response to these thoughts. Notice the feeling tone of these emotions. Label these thoughts as the delusion of judgment. Don’t engage, nor act out, nor suppress these delusional thoughts.

Instead, mentally jiu-jitsu these judgmental thoughts about the unskillful person into compassionate thoughts and blessings for them: “You are hurting. You are lost in delusion. Only a deluded person would act or speak so unskillfully. Controlled by delusion, you are suffering. May you come out of your suffering. May you find clarity, wisdom, peace, and love. May all my words and actions show you how to live with love, peace, wisdom, and clarity. May our interactions help you come out of your misery, and help you live from your deepest essence of unconditional love.”

Mindfully notice how these truthful and loving thoughts allow you to remain peaceful, calm, compassionate, and skillful during challenging times. Do your best to feel the meaning behind the compassionate words you use. Also, feel free to use whatever compassionate words feel genuine and authentic for you.

If blame flipping feels too difficult for you, start with some thoughts of loving-kindness for yourself: “May I have the power to be compassionate in the face of other people’s unskillfulness. May my love be stronger than their hatred. May my compassion be stronger than their cruelty. May my peace be stronger than their greed.” Or use whatever words resonate for you. Once you feel some kindness towards yourself, you may find more strength to offer your compassion to those who are unskillful.

Blame flipping takes aversive thoughts of blame and judgment and transforms them into thoughts of compassion, kindness, and care. The skill of Blame Flipping will not feel natural at first. Fake it till you make it. Forgiveness, compassion, and other love-based meditations help you to practice, learn, and make genuine this vital skill of Blame Flipping.

Our ego will also try to justify our own judgment, saying, “That person (or group of people) is so bad, that they deserve my judgment.” Really? That is precisely what the perpetrators of the Holocaust thought of those they tortured and murdered. Justifying judgment in this way allows judgment to thrive in people of good will, and plants the seeds of the next Holocaust, genocide, school shooting, world war, and terrorist attack.

To create a world where all life thrives; where all beings live in peace, safety, and harmony; it requires us to be wise and discerning, loving and compassionate. It also requires us to abandon all judgment, delusion, and falsehood.

Disqualifying the Positive: Turn That Smile Into a Pile of Bile

Very similar to judgment is the delusion that psychiatrist David D. Burns calls “disqualifying the positive.” If we took the same red, black, and white handkerchief, and asked disqualifying the positive what color it was, it would say, “blue.”

When the ego disqualifys the positive, it transforms positive experiences into negative ones. It denigrates your skills with thoughts like, “anybody could do what I do.” It shoots down compliments with the thought, “she’s just saying that to be nice, but doesn’t really mean it.” It pushes away friends with thoughts like, “They wouldn’t be my friend if they knew how awful I truly am.”

Disqualifying the positive takes a glass half-full of water and sees it as empty, broken, and burning in the fiery pits of Hell. Disqualifying the positive is one of the most destructive delusions to your mental health, and frequently arises in people suffering from depression. We have all been taught this delusion through our conditioning. Many mistake this delusion for being modest, but it skews our perceptions of reality making life seem very dark, bleak, and threatening.

The antidote to disqualifying the positive is self-love and compassion. Mindfully watch  your thoughts, and refuse to believe any that are no not kind, loving, and compassionate. Do a lot of loving-kindness meditation towards yourself.

Should Statements Used as Verbal Whippings

Should statements are another form of aversion and judgment. Should statements think that you, someone else, or a situations should be different than how it is. It is a frequent way that judgment arises in our thoughts and communication.  “I should be thin.” “My partner should know what I think without me having to explain it.” “Parents should treat their kids with unconditional love.”

Like judgment and aversion, should statements create a combative relationship with reality, places beings within a conceptually-constructed hierarchy, causes us to suffer through an unwillingness to accept the sense-based reality of the situation, and result in unskillful behavior.

Best to mindfully see should statements as delusional and not engage them when they arise in the mind.

Multiply Your Misery with Blaming and Complaining

Another form of aversion is blaming or complaining. Blaming and complaining wants to find fault in self, others, and circumstances and then punish them with hatred, harsh words, or cruelty. To paraphrase Gandhi, <<All who harp on their woes, multiplies them manifold.>>

The wise view remains focused on appreciating the present moment, remaining mindful of our inner peace, and responding skillfully to the situation in a way that brings healing and harmony to all life.

Jealousy: Bitterness at the Success of Others

Jealousy is another form of aversion. Jealousy resents the success and happiness of others, and can lead one to want to harm those we are jealous of through gossip, rumors, or other unskillful means. If we are jealous of our significant other sharing their love with friends and family, we can harm and attempt to control them.

The antidote to jealousy is sympathetic or empathetic joy. This means learning to celebrate, be happy for, and be inspired by the successes and joys of others.

Doubt: The Destroyer of Dreams

Doubt is another form of aversion. In normal usage, doubt refers to a lack of certainty or conviction, but that is not how we mean it. We encourage your healthy, open-minded skepticism. When we use the word doubt, we refer to an unwillingness to try. The doubt we speak of crushes your dreams before you even attempt them.

In the context of our mindfulness class, doubt refers to one of two things: a doubt in your abilities, or a doubt in the teachings.

Doubt of abilities show up as thought like, “I’m bad at meditating,” “I don’t think I’m doing it right,” “I can’t meditate.” “I understand what you are saying and I am mindful already. I don’t need to meditate or do the slogan work.” Whatever thoughts they may be, before you know it, you are not meditating, not using the slogans, not trying to see the delusions of futuring, pasting, craving, and aversion in your life, and so on. The class becomes an intellectual exercise, or form of entertainment, because you have abandoned trying it out, doing the work, and learning from your experience what these practices can do for you.

Do You Doubt Your Ability to Meditate?

If you have doubts that you are meditating incorrectly, then use guided meditations, and do your best to follow the instructions. If you still think you are meditating incorrectly, then consult with myself or another meditation teacher who can help ensure you are using the proper technique.

The Test It Technique

For most other doubts, use the Test It agape arsenal technique. In this technique you become a scientist gathering evidence. You don’t fight or argue with the doubt-based thoughts, you simply test them.

Road construction is happening on your street and a doubt-based thought says, “I can’t meditate with all this noise.” You challenge that hypothesis with a, “Really? Is that true? Let’s test the validity of this hypothesis.” You sit down, put in your ear buds, start the guided meditation, and do your best to follow the guided meditations instructions for five minutes. At the end, you soberly evaluate the hypothesis as false: noise did not prevent you from meditating.

Most doubt-based thoughts however, like most scientific studies, require a longer period of time to test and research. For example, the doubt of, “I’m not good at meditating.” Really? Is that true? Is meditation an inborn skill that you either have or don’t have? Or is it possible that meditation is a learned skill that takes practice to master, just like dancing, painting, swimming, or basketball? Let’s Test It!

You test this doubt by committing to meditate daily for six months. Because we meditate to learn how to live well, we will evaluate our meditation practice by comparing our life before meditation to our life after six months of meditation. Do you have more patience? More peace? More kindness? More compassion? More joy? Do you live more in the present moment? Are your more appreciative? More happy? Are you more calm and centered when difficulties arise? Are you better able to watch your thoughts, feel your emotions, and identify delusions? Is your mind more quiet, spacious, and still? Do this experiment and find out for yourself!

When self-doubt arises, calmly Label it “doubt.” Remember how doubt works to sabotage your efforts before you even try. Stay committed to your noble intentions. Then, Test It!

Doubting the Teachings

The second area where doubt arises is towards the teachings and the teacher. Again, healthy, open-minded skepticism is encouraged. Just don’t let that skepticism turn into doubts that prevent you from giving the technique, instructions, and information a fair chance.

Before you took this course, you committed to spend ten minutes a day to a mindfulness practice. Stick with your commitments. Many thoughts of doubt will arise about the teachings, the teachers, the information and techniques shared. Mindfully Label these thoughts “doubt” and stay true to your commitments. Then Test it!

Test the teachings and the technique in your own life. See if they aid you in your experience. That is the true measure which will allow you to evaluate the truth of your doubts or not. Don’t let your doubtful thoughts prevent you from giving meditation, slogan work, and mindfulness a fair chance to benefit your life.

The best way to evaluate this course and the teachings is through this question: when I apply the teachings in my life, do they benefit me, my family, and all life forms?

Apathy Judges Those Who Suffer and Doesn’t Care About Their Misery

The ego confuses the state of peace with state of apathy. Although both states can feel peaceful and calm, the state of peace has an open and connected heart. Apathy, on the other hand, has a closed and uncaring heart. Apathy simply does not care about the suffering of others and that is why their suffering does not bother them. Underlying the delusion of apathy, is often a lot of judgmental thoughts that prevent apathy from caring about the suffering of the other.

The Buddha explained the love of peace using the analogy of a mother with a teenage son. Out of love for him and a wish to help him continue to grow, develop, and mature, she gives him the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them.

When a loving mother gives her teenage son the freedom to make mistakes, it is because she wishes the best for him, not because she no longer cares about what happens to him. That would be apathy. So when you feel peaceful, be mindful that your heart is open and connected, so you are not practicing apathy. 

The antidote for apathy is compassion, a willingness to be intimate with that which is unpleasant.

Denial Keeps Us In the Dark

Denial is an often unconscious refusal to acknowledge the truth of a situation. It is easier for us to see denial in others, and very challenging to see it in ourselves. The difficulty in seeing denial in ourselves is due to the fact that delusions in our mind affect our perceptions.

Delusions in the mind can actually distort what we are able to see, hear, and sense. If we judge a politician to be an “evil liar,” we will be unable to see, appreciate, or notice anything good about them. We may even gravitate towards news sources that further strengthen this judgmental view and avoid those that would provide a more balanced, accurate, or even-handed perspective.

Because our delusions distort our perceptions, this is why we must be patient with our meditation practice. It may take months, years, or decades to see some delusions clearly enough to let go of them entirely. Thankfully, we will see incremental progress that will keep us motivated and committed to our practice, before these larger changes happen.

The source of most denial is the delusion of fixed-view: mistaking thoughts, ideas, and stories to be the truth. We will be discussing this delusion in a future class. Until then, keep putting your awareness in you senses. Work on trusting your senses more that the thoughts and stories about how things are or should be that skew your perceptions.

Having covered the many faces of aversion, let’s now turn to look at the many faces of carving.

The Many Faces of Craving

Craving. Clinging. Wanting. Greed. All of these words point to the same delusion of needing to have something other that what you currently have. It is a strong, disturbing, and unsettling desire to have, own, achieve, and obtain something else. Craving can also refer to needing and wanting things to remain the same, despite the universal law that everything changes.

Just like with aversion, craving is an umbrella term that includes many other delusions. Types of craving include the delusions of confusion-delusion, partisanism, envy, lust, hedonism, and grief. Let’s look at each one now.

Confusion-Delusion: Unhelpful Mental Tightness

Confusion-Delusion is the delusion of craving when you “don’t know, but need to know.” Confusion is not a delusion when you “don’t know, and let it go.” To distinguish between the two, we call the delusional form of confusion confusion-delusion and the nondelusional form confusion-inclusion.

Confusion-delusion feels like an unpleasant pressure, tightness, frustration, heaviness, or an obsessive fixation in the mind. The ego thinks that by “flexing its mind” in this way, it will figure out the answer and finally gain understaning. Confusion-delusion can lead to a profusion of often worthless and repetitive thoughts attempting to “solve” or “figure out” what you don’t understand. Alternately, it can also lead to an apathetic disinterest in the subject matter. “I don’t get this, so why bother listening.”

On the other hand, confusion-inclusion means you have mindfully recognized that you don’t know something, and you lovingly include the fact that you don’t know in your peaceful awareness. By peacefully accepting that you don’t know something, your mind remains feeling light, spacious, open, and interested. Such a mind is creative, flexible, receptive and primed to increase the chances that understanding will arise.

Let the unpleasant sensations of confusion-delusion help you spot when it is active in you. When you notice these sensations, Label it, “confusion-delusion.” Then, to let go of the delusion. Mindfully recognize, “I don’t know, and that’s OK. I don’t need to know this right now.” You will know you have shifted to confusion-inclusion when your body feels calm and peaceful, and your head feels spacious, open, receptive, and interested.

Confused? Ask Questions or Set It Aside

During the introductory course, some of what I say may not make sense to you now. You have at least two skillful options. First, ask a question to seek clarification. This is your best option.

Second, if the answers to your questions keep you confused or make you upset, then let it go. That information does not appear helpful or useful to you right now. Set it aside and focus on what is helpful and useful to you right now. You don’t have to understand all of the information. Simply be open to what is said, do your best to understand it, and set aside what upsets you, disturbs you, offends you, or what you don’t understand.

The meaning will become clear to you as your practice deepens, but for now, let it go and rest peacefully in confusion-inclusion.

Partisanism Keeps Us Divided

The delusion of partisanism can also be called hero-worship, tribalism, or favoritism. It is the delusion of judgment in reverse. It deems some people, beings, or situations as above the law or able to do no wrong. It places individuals and groups on pedestals of superiority and causes us to ignore, or make excuses for, their unskillfulness. Such behavior allows these people to inflict great harm with impunity, and it stunts their spiritual and mental maturity.

Examples of the harms of this delusion include celebrities and bosses who are allowed to sexually harass others. Hostile partisanship that sees members of my party as right, just, and intelligent, and those of the other party as evil, corrupt, and stupid.

Respond to partisanism by compassionately see the good in all life, and by committing to show everyone respect, love, and compassion, whether they be friend or "foe."

The Stinginess of Envy

Envy is the hunger for the success, fame, and fortune of others. It is a longing to have what they have. It typically views the world as a zero sum game where another's happiness is at the expense of my happiness. In reality, true joy comes from within and there is an abundant supply of it for everyone to be happy.

Let go of envy by cultivating sympathetic joy at the success of others. Gratitude practice also helps you rest more peacefully and calmly in the present moment.

Lust Exploits; Love Honors

Lust mistakenly believes you “need” or “must have” sexual gratification. Mentally it is very compulsive, unpleasant, and restless. Lust, like many delusions, distorts your perceptions. Lust leads the unskillful behavior such as unhealthy sexual practices, objectifying others, sexual harassment, and other kinds of sexual misconduct.

Our sexuality is a sacred gift from life. Use your sexuality skillfully in a way that honors you and your partner’s commitments. Use it to express your true love and care for your partner’s wellbeing. Use it to heal, nurture, and benefit all involved.

Hedonism: Gratifying Sensual Pleasures to Our Own Detriment

Hedonism is the pursuit of sense-based pleasures to the extent that they harm yourself or others. Hedonism may also be called self-indulgence or exuberance. In hedonism, we look to the outside world to make us happy. Hedonism can be thought of as having a party attitude where the purpose of life is to eat, drink, and be merry.

In hedonism, it is all about you. You are on a mission to get your wants, desires, and lusts fulfilled. There is an agenda behind hedonism. The object of one’s hedonic desires is nearly unlimited: alcohol, sex, drugs, cigarettes, porn, shopping, cutting, food, TV, internet, video games, shoplifting, work, fame, acquiring money, violence, laughter, and so on. Although some of these things can be enjoyed skillfully, the distinguishing quality of hedonism is that the behavior harms yourself or others.

Hedonism has an insatiable desire to consume external sensual pleasures in a doomed attempt to sustain a never-ending high. Hedonism mistakenly believes that by “consuming” or obtaining these external things, that it can finally find the inner peace and relief it seeks.

Ultimately, however, this strategy is unsustainable due to the law of impermanence. Everything changes. The fourth cookie, glass of wine, or joint is not as satisfying as the first one. The emotional high from hedonic binges inevitably transforms into an emotional low.

Like all delusions, hedonism leads to shortsighted, unskillful behaviors that ultimately harm ourselves and others. Ample evidence for this is provided in the many stories shared by the members at the meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Sex Addicts Anonymous, and other Anonymous and addiction recovery groups.

The antidote is to seek your joy from within. A great way to connect with your inner joy is by genuinely appreciating all of the many blessings life has given you and continues to provide you.

Grief: A Profusion of Delusion and Suffering Spirals

The final type of craving we will discuss is grief. Grief clings to a beloved being, whether a spouse, significant other, family member, friend, or animal companion who is taken from us by death, disease, disability, or separation of some kind. We can also grieve over the loss of our health, abilities, dreams, and material items that were destroyed, stolen, or taken from us.

Grief arises from loss, and it can penetrate us deeply. Grief goes deep because it triggers strong emotions. These strong emotions then trigger the arising of deeply delusional thoughts. These delusional thoughts, if not mindfully seen as delusion, further trigger a profusion of delusional emotions. This vicious cycle goes on and on causing a prolonged suffering spiral. Grief is a challenging experience because it brings many delusions to mind all at the same time.

Grief work is the process of using your grief to gain wisdom, insights, and freedom from delusion. Those who do grief work, realize the truth in poet Mary Oliver’s words: “Someone I once loved gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.” The gift of grief is that it triggers all of your delusions and allows you to see, know, and transcend them, if you do the work.

Doing grief work is challenging. It is often a long process that takes years or decades. But not doing grief work is even more challenging. To not do grief work is to resign yourself to remaining stuck in the bottomless, gut-wrenching abyss of heart-ache, misery, shame, guilt, judgment, anger, hatred, bitterness, grief, fear, anxiety, denial, overwhelm, and other delusional mental and emotional states.

The antidote to grief includes heavy doses of truth, love, patience, and compassion as you mindfully work to feel, see, understand, and ultimately let go of the delusions found in your grief. The entire agape arsenal might need to be used to affectively address the many and various delusions triggered by grief. We don’t have time to cover all of these in this article, but there are two agape arsenal techniques we will highlight: Mental Jiu-Jitsu and the FEEL Technique.

Mental Jiu-jitsu for Grief Work

In the martial art of jiu-jitsu, you use your opponents’ strength against themselves so that even if you are smaller and weaker than them, you can still defeat them. In Mental Jiu-Jitsu, we do the same thing by transforming egoic delusional attacks into teachable moments to bring more truth, love, compassion, and wisdom into our lives.

When tackling difficult issues like grief, it is best to use your journal. On as many pages as you need, draw lines to create three columns. In the first column, write all of the recurring thoughts you have about your loss. Separate each thought with a lot of lines of space. Keep writing everything you think.

Then take some conscious breaths, and review what you have written, looking to see what delusions are present in the thoughts. It may help to review [LINK] this list of delusions first. In the second column, write what delusions are contained in the thoughts.

In the third column, write down a loving, calm, rational, truthful response to these thoughts. You will know it meets these qualifications because the mind, body, and heart feels a sense of peace, ease, and openness when you read these words. Take frequent breath meditations as you do this.

If you can’t think up a loving response, be patient with yourself. It may take a few days or longer to come up with a response that meets these criteria. Be patient, do your best, and have faith that a response will arise. It may be helpful to try to come up with a loving response after you do your daily meditation.

As your connection with your indwelling love, compassion, and wisdom grows, keep reviewing and revising your answers to reflect your newly gained insights.  Review and revise your answers as wisdom, love, and compassion Try again each day, maybe after you do your daily meditation and your mind is fresh, clear, and focused.

Using the Mental Jiu-Jitsu format, let’s go over a few examples that expose a few of the egoic, often unconscious, delusions, that arise when we suffer loss and grief. (PLEASE NOTE: Although I intended to include these as three columns, creating such a format currently exceeds my technical know-how. Thus the "columns" are presented the way they are.)

 

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

My emotional suffering shows the depths of my love for my beloved. If I ever stop suffering over their loss, then it means that I no longer love them. Since I don’t want to ever stop loving them, I must continue to suffer.

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Emotional reasoning, Self-ing.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

My beloved loves me. Because they love me, they wish me to be happy, peaceful, and joyful. I honor our love by doing the grief work necessary to come out of my delusions and live with peace and joy as my beloved would want me to.

 

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

I should have known better. I should have seen this coming. If I had done X,Y, and Z, I could have prevented this tragedy, but I did not. It is all my fault. I am a horrible person. I deserve all this suffering I am experiencing. I wish I was dead.

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Should statements. Judgment. Blame. Selfing. Pasting. Hatred. Cruelty.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

The lawful cause-and-effect relationship of our universe points to the fact that countless moving parts create the arising of the present moment. I surrender to the truth that I do not control life, my life situation, or the life situations of those around me such as my beloved. At best, I have a limited amount of influence over a few of these moving parts. Thus, I forgive myself for not being omnipotent and omniscient. I lovingly accept my lack of control over the life that swirls around me. I surrender to this truth, that I may find self-forgiveness, self-compassion, peace, and wholeness.

 

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

Why me? Why them? Why cancer? Why heart disease? Why this? Why that?

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Aversion. Pasting.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

What’s done is done. No amount of thinking can change the past. What matters, is moving forward with love, acceptance, compassion, forgiveness, and skillfulness.

 

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

How could you let my beloved die, God/Life?! I hate you for what you did. 

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Judgment. Blame.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

The universal law of impermanence tells me that everything I love, cherish, and adore will be taken away from me.

When I accept this truth, I appreciate all of the time I had with my beloved, and I thank Life/God for placing them in my life and for the time we did have together.

I feel peace, joy, and appreciation remembering all of the love, kindness, and compassion we showed each other during our time together. Furthermore, having accepted how precious and limited my time with those I love is, I am inspired to express my love for my beloved friends who are still with me at every opportunity.

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

You killed my beloved. You are a murderer. You deserve to suffer and die the same way you caused my beloved to suffer and die.

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Aversion. Judgment. Blame. Hatred.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

You were lost in delusion and that delusion caused you to do unskillful actions that had dire consequences for my beloved. Although I don’t feel forgiveness for you, right now, out of love for myself and for my own wellbeing, I am committed to doing the work necessary to forgive you, that I may free myself from this judgment, hatred, anger, cruelty, and blame.

Delusion Thoughts/Egoic View (Column 1)

My heart feels like it is going to explode. I can’t take this pain anymore. I wish I was dead.

Label Delusions in Statements (Column 2)

Emotional reasoning. Aversion. Hatred.

Truth/Wise View (Column 3)

Feelings are temporary visitors to my awareness. By mindfully accepting them, feeling them fully, and not letting them turn into more delusional stories, I take away their power to rule and control my life. By willingly feeling my emotions I gain courage, freedom, peace, confidence and ease. (For more details on how to skillfully feel your feelings, see theFEEL Technique below.)

These are just examples. Feel free to use your own words that resonate with you.

During grief, recurring delusions may furiously arise and quickly overwhelm you. The technique of mental jiu-jitsu helps you begin the process of sifting through these delusions, seeing which ones are operational, and talking back to them in a compassionate, kind, and reasonable manner.

Mental jiu-jitsu helps you craft ready-made responses for when delusional attacks happen. These responses will help you find more peace, balance, and ease and decrease the lengths of your grief attacks. Regularly review what you have written, so your words of wisdom more immediately come to mind in those moments when grief strikes.

I repeat that grief work is a slow, non-linear process that requires much patience, compassion, and kindness towards yourself and all life. You will not implement this path perfectly and you will make gains and have setbacks. When this happens, offer yourself compassion and forgiveness and keep doing the grief work.

Respond to Unpleasant Emotions with the FEEL Technique

When strong, unpleasant emotions arise, as happens during grief, it triggers a lot of aversion towards those feelings. This aversion makes us want to run away, self-medicate, freak out, or give up. Unfortunately, all of these reactions strengthens the ego’s grip on us.

The FEEL Technique is a way to respond skillfully to emotions in a way that will aid your ultimate awakening. The techniques works like this:

1. Feel the emotion.

Put all of your awareness into feeling the emotion directly with your senses. Remember that no one has ever died from feeling their emotions, while many have died in vain attempts to run away from them. Therefore with as much kindness, courage, and love, feel the emotion, no matter how unpleasant it is.

2. Establish the delusional, impersonal, impermanent nature of the emotion.

Use your senses to experience the delusional, impersonal, and impermanent nature of the emotion. You know the feeling is delusional, because it is disturbing. Both emotions and the delusional thoughts which they arise from, are temporary visitors to the mind. Because thoughts are conditioned and impersonal, emotions are also conditioned and impersonal. Do not mistake these emotions to be more truthful, permanent, or personal than they are.

3. Exclude thinking.

Excluding thinking can be achieved in several ways:

A. Have a calm, quiet mind. Do some breath meditation to quiet and calm the mind. This may not work because the habit pattern of the ego is to generate a lot of delusional stories when a deeply disturbing emotion arises.

B. Intensely focus all of your awareness on feeling the emotion. By doing this, there is less energy left to generate thoughts, and those thoughts that do arise are ignored in the background of our awareness.

C. Assume all thoughts are delusional and pay them no heed. Just as we do in mindfulness meditation, when we notice thoughts arising, label them “thinking” and then with as much compassion as possible return your full awareness to feeling the emotion.

4. Love and accept the feeling.

With love and compassion we allow the feeling to be. We do not do this technique to “get rid of” the feeling. That would be the delusion of aversion. Instead, we feel the feeling while relaxing and calming the body as much as possible. We appreciate that this feeling is here to teach us how to be mindful and help us awaken from our misery.

We continue to do these four steps noticing how the feeling changes, growing in intensity at times, fading away at other times, and moving to different areas of the body. We continue to do this technique until the emotion moves away on its own, or we have enough balance in the mind to skillfully go about our business.

The FEEL Technique teaches us how to courageously feel our feelings, without letting them turn into suffering spirals of compounding delusional thoughts and feelings. The FEEL Technique helps us know the impermanent and impersonal nature of feelings as well. The FEEL Technique helps us wield our mindfulness like a surgeon's scalpel to cut away all of the unnecessary mental suffering that is needlessly added to the physical sensations of emotions. The more we use the FEEL Technique on our delusional emotions, the less power they have over us.

Summary

This ends our tour of the many faces of aversion and clinging. You have now been introduced to the aversive delusions of judgment, hatred, cruelty, disqualifying the positive, should statements, blaming and complaining, jealousy, doubt, apathy, and denial. You have also been introduced to the craving delusions of confusion-delusion, partisanism, envy, lust, hedonism, and grief. Notice and label them when they arise in your experience. Experience the thoughts and ideas that cause them to arise and how they feel in the body, heart, and mind.

Then use mindfulness, kindness, compassion, peace, appreciation and the various agape arsenal technique featured in this article to help you let go of them. This techniques included:

Imagine the Innocent Infant Inside; “If Not for My Good Fortune, That Would Be Me;” and Blame Flipping to help you let go of judgment.

Test It to help you let go of the doubt that prevents you from trying.

Mental Jiu-jitsu to help you address all delusions.

• And the FEEL Technique to help you address unpleasant or strong emotions. 

May you come out of all craving and aversion and fully inhabit your radiant self of boundless love, peace, compassion, and joy.