‘The mind is by nature radiant. It’s shining. It is because of visiting forces that we suffer.’ Buddha
Recently I was fortunate to be able to attend an online meditation program held by Sharon Salzburg and Joseph Weinstein. During the program I sat in on a talk about ‘hindrances’, and it is here that I came across this powerful and poignant quote. After a summary explanation, I experienced an ‘Ah ha!’ moment of epiphany that I now feel is worth diving further into.
‘Hindrances’ are the forces that can make it challenging to stay present and focused. There are many hindrances, but in meditation there are five considered to be the most critical to pay attention to: Desire or attachment, ill will, sloth or laziness, anxiety, and doubt (mainly self-doubt).
In her discourse, Sharon defined these ‘visiting forces’ as being our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, reiterating that they are only ever visiting. They may stick around for a long period of time, or be super loud, yet only stopping by for the interim. Most important to note is these visiting forces are born out of conditions – they are not inherent to our being. Our natural state is one of purity and bliss, and it’s due to such hindrances that we suffer.
An initial reaction had me asking the question, ‘How do I stop these visiting forces or hindrances from entering into my life?’
Salzburg went on to explain that we cannot actually control our thoughts, feelings, or emotions – these arise naturally and are out of our control. We can however affect the conditions that serve as foundations for our thoughts and feelings. We can then find ways to create enough space to hold these hindrances in a manner that helps reduce our suffering as opposed to creating more of it.
So, how do we create this type of space?
First, we need to acknowledge this is part and parcel of the human condition itself – we all experience these forces upon us. We are not alone. They are an integral aspect of what makes us human.
Second, we must acknowledge the emotion, thought, or feeling rather than the disgrace of it.
Lastly, by generating self-compassion for ourselves and grounding in this kindness we can reduce the power of these hindrances.
A short quote with a Massive amount of wisdom therein. I think the Buddha may have been on to something.