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Meditation can help deal with inner states

Cynthia Marshall

Humans have complex inner states. And anger is part of the human condition.

Meditation can help us recognize these inner states and understand how they can control our behavior.

Anger often arises from fear, loss of control, stress, guilt, and shame.

Jack Kornfield says, “When we are not aware of our inner states, we feel controlled by outside influences.”

And when we are controlled by outside influences, such as placing blame on someone or something for the pandemic, or attempting to judge those who do not share our opinions on the civil unrest, we are creating suffering, not releasing ourselves or others from suffering.

The emotions of disdain, scorn, anger, and blame are part of our need for self-justification. But the world and our place in the world just is. We must let go of our attachment to the outside and look within.

What we want to do, as Buddhists, is alleviate people's suffering through the practice of loving kindness. Our compassion arises from our regular meditation and remaining present.

Meditation helps the practitioner to detach from the need to be right or to feel justified. Meditation with the sangha, or community, helps us to see that we “inter-are,” meaning we are in this together.

If we really think about it, when we continue to be attached to our argument about why something happened, or whom or what is to blame, we are simply creating waves of ill will.

Buddhists follow non-attachment and non-dualism. The world and its problems are not this, and they are not that.

The Buddha says, “To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind.”

Our place in time, at this moment, is to be present. We must cultivate loving kindness in the midst of suffering.

When the violence and anger settle, we will be present to sit and listen.

Right action, right speech, and right meditation will help prepare us for helping those who are suffering.

I end with a quote from Stephen Levine: “Our addiction to always being right is a great block to the truth. It keeps us from the kind of openness that comes from confidence in our natural wisdom.”

Cynthia Marshall is an ordained Zen Buddhist Chaplain who leads the Butler Buddhist sangha, which has open dharma talks at The Maridon Museum, 322 N. McKean St.