If you have ever studied Buddhism you are probably familiar with the story of the four horses. There is the excellent horse, the good horse, the poor horse, and the terrible horse. The excellent horse is attuned to his master and anticipates his/her needs without any physical reliance on the whip. The good horse only needs the suggestion of the whip. The poor horse needs to feel the sting of the whip before it responds. The terrible horse needs to be beaten within an inch of its life to get moving. It is no surprise that I am the terrible horse, hell I might even go so far as to say I am the Zombie horse who could give fuck all about anything but the braaaaaaaiiiiiiinnnnnns.
I don’t believe in original sin. I do believe that we all share a common misunderstanding that in order to be happy we have to escape pain/discomfort. Our bodies are conditioned to withdraw from pain. If I stick my hand in the fire fear and/or pain will cause me to pull away. That response makes sense, my survival depends on immediate responses like that, on instincts that bypass the slower analytical processes.
The problem is that the mind can’t always distinguish between growing pains and genuine danger. I suffer from dissociation. Sometimes I leave my hand in the fire. Sometimes someone says “hello” and I run screaming in the opposite direction with my hand’s over my ears. I hate to be embarrassed and I get embarrassed easily and for no discernible reason. That is why being in the moment, being present comes in handy because then one can better distinguish between a challenge and a catastrophe. We live for the diversions. Work, chores, learning we don’t consider that life, that’s the pain we wish to escape so we can get to the juicy stuff like watching television and eating fried chicken. One of my objectives in therapy is simply to be more “present”. I don’t want to be smarter, more charming, more outgoing, thinner (yes I do lol). I just want to be awake a little longer each day. I admit I still want to be more productive. I still can’t shake the impulse to beat myself with that damn whip whether I am moving or not. Where are my brains anyways??!?!!?
As Pema Chödrön’s says “True nature is not some ideal we have to live up too” We are already ourselves, we already have everything we need to awaken.