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Lions Roar : September 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2012 45 You could ask, what’s wrong with preferring happiness to sad- ness or praise to blame? Isn’t the pursuit of happiness what it’s all about? Isn’t it obvious that gain is better than loss? But it is one thing to recognize what we would like to attract and what we would prefer to get rid of, and quite another to be obsessed with getting our way and terrified of things going wrong. The problem is that hope is joined at the hip with its partner, fear. We can’t have one without the other. When we are caught in this hope–fear cycle, our attitude is always tense and even our most satisfying experiences are bounded by paranoia. Happiness vs. Suffering In the first style of hope and fear, we look at things in terms of happiness versus suffering, pleasure versus pain. We hope for happiness, but once we have it, fear arises, for we are afraid to lose it. Out of that fear we cling to pleasure so hard that the plea- sure itself becomes a form of pain. And when suffering arises, no amount of wishful thinking makes it go away. The more we hope for it to be otherwise, the more pain we feel. Fame vs. Insignificance In the second style of hope and fear, we are obsessed with fame and afraid of our own insignificance. We scramble our way to the top, hungry for confirmation, and when it is not forthcoming we get pissed off and huffy. Then when it dawns on us how hard we need to work to be seen as someone special, our fear of insignifi- cance is magnified. Behind our façade of fame, we suffer from a kind of inner desolation and hollowness. Praise vs. Blame With the third style, we are obsessed with praise and fearful of blame. We need to be pumped up constantly or we begin to have doubts about our worth. When we are not searching for praise, we are busy trying to cover up our mistakes so we don’t get caught. But there is never enough praise to satisfy us, and we are never free from the threat of being found wanting. Only if we are perfect can we count on continual praise, but although we struggle for perfection, we can never attain it. The slightest little mistake is all it takes to re-trigger our fear. Gain vs. Loss Finally, with the fourth style we are obsessed with gain and loss. We invest in situations with high hopes, and we expect that if things have been improving, they will continue to do so. That quality of hope is so seductive that we forget how easily situa- tions can turn on us. But just as we are about to congratulate ourselves on our success, the bottom falls out, and fear once again holds sway. Our hope falls apart and we are afraid that things will keep going downhill forever. Over and over, things are hopeful one moment and the next they are not, and in either case we are anxious. These cycles of hope and fear occupy our minds and capture our energy. No matter what is happening to us, we think it could be better, or at least different. No matter who we are, we think we could be better, or at least different. Nothing is ever good enough and we can never relax. SIX PATTERNS OF STRESS Another way of looking at stress is through the teachings of the six realms of being. These six realms are the god realm, jealous god realm, human realm, animal realm, hungry ghost realm, and hell realm. They represent the experiential worlds we create out of ignorance and inhabit out of fear. They describe worlds in which struggle is the underpinning, and no matter how hard we try, we never truly get what we want. It is said that we cycle through these realms constantly and it is hard to get out. Praise Blame Gain Loss PHOTOS:ANDREPOPOV,JACEKJAGLA,COLLEENCOOMBE,CARLBALLOU/DREAMSTIME.COM