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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 46 Once you step onto this kind of treadmill, you cannot get off. You are always competing and see everything in terms of win- ning and losing. Fueled by envy, you are ground up in the maws of competitiveness, trapped in a rat race that never slows down. If you continue to be obsessed with success and fail- ure, with winning and losing, your actions will be constricted and stressful. But there are times when the actions speak for themselves, and whatever you do becomes more simple and effective. This gives you a glimpse of the possibility of another way of doing things, a way to act more skillfully and with less effort. The Human Realm and the Stress of Insecurity The human realm is the realm of passion and longing for rela- tionship. You feel incomplete and look for ways to fill that empty feeling. When you are lonely, you try to connect, but once you make a connection, you feel claustrophobic and disappointed. When you choose one person to connect with, you wonder whether you could have found someone better. Whatever you do, you think there might be something better that you have missed out on. In the human realm, you are fueled by neediness and desire. You worry about how you are perceived by others and obsessed with your popu- larity. Although you create shifting coalitions of relation- ships, none of them is all that stable. You are always insecure, and your mind hops all over the place. On top of it all, you think too much, which compli- cates everything. In the human realm, you long to feel more substantial and are afraid of your own vulnerability. If you are always looking outside yourself for some kind of confirmation, you will be stressed out all the time. But from time to time, moments of spontaneous insight arise from within you. This clarity needs no external confirmation. You find that you do not need to second-guess yourself. You can appreciate what you are experiencing whether or not there may be something better going on somewhere else. Each of the six realms has its own dominant preoccupation, its own pattern of hope and fear, and its own form of stress. But even when we are caught in one of these realms, there are ways to break free from the fixations that entrap us and perpetuate our stress and suffering. The God Realm and the Stress of Perfectionism The god realm refers to a world of refinement. It is one of spiritual bliss, mate- rial pleasure, or psychological satisfaction. The god realm is fueled by pride joined with ignorance, which allows you to dwell in a self-absorbed haze. Finding yourself in such a realm is like a dream come true. But when you finally have everything you ever wanted, you worry that it might all be lost. You might create hideouts, whether in the form of spiritual retreat centers, gated communities, or mental la-la lands. But to maintain such islands of perfection, you need to close your eyes to suffering. You need to close off your heart. Since you don’t want your bubble to burst or to experience unpleasant- ness of any sort, you have to ignore anything that threatens it. It may seem that this realm has very little stress. But under the surface of spiritual pride and tranquility, there runs a river of fear. You have to hold yourself very tight to prolong your special experiences and to protect them from decaying. You hope that your transcendent experiences will go on forever, but you are afraid that you will not actually be able to hold on to them. The problem is that as soon as you create a protected area and surround it with a wall, whether it is a literal wall or a psycho- logical wall, there will not only be constant struggle but also the stress of realizing that your experience is a manufactured one, not real. However, there are moments when you let go of that striving and something fresh arises. The more you pay atten- tion to such gaps in your scheming, the more expansive is your perspective. With your roomier mind, that mentality of striving begins to dissolve into insignificance. The Jealous God Realm and the Stress of the Rat Race The jealous god realm is marked by envy, speediness, and com- petitiveness. In this realm, you are never satisfied with what you have as long as someone else has more. You are striving all the time, afraid to ever stop, afraid you might get passed by. You have no sense of yourself except in comparison to those who are ahead of you and those who are coming up from behind. God Realm Jealous God Realm Human Realm PHOTOS:XIMAGINATION,JOSEANTONIOSANCHEZREYES/DREAMSTIME,OOYO/ISTOCK