Sharon Salzberg, from the week 2 talk of her Tricycle Retreat, “The Five Hindrances: Desire and Aversion”

Aversion in Buddhist psychology is quite interesting, because it’s both anger and fear. Anger and fear are considered in many ways to be the same mind state, just in different forms. Anger is the outflowing, expressive energized form and fear is the held in, frozen, imploding form.

Aversion is also an effort to be in control. It’s kind of like an opposite energy of clinging, but with a similar base. We think if we can fight enough, struggle enough, and push away enough then whatever has come up will not have come up and we will be able to be in control of the unfolding of events. But look at what we get angry at, all these things that we cannot control, what arises in our minds. We get so frustrated, thinking, “I don’t know, I’ve worked so hard, I’ve been meditating for six months, ten years, whatever. This stuff still comes up. It’s bad. It’s wrong. I’m a failure” or “I’ve been in psychotherapy all this time and anger still comes up. I’m bad. I’m wrong. I’m a failure.” Yet, can we ever fully control what  arises in our mind? Certainly from the Buddhist point of view we’d say no, that what arises is born out of a combination of conditions coming together. We can change those conditions, we can influence them, but we cannot say with total determination and be successful, “I will never be afraid again” or “I’ve grieved enough, it’s over” or “I’ll never fall asleep while meditating again.” What arises is a combination of conditions. What we can change and what we do change is our immediate relationship to what comes up.

We don’t need to feel victimized by what’s happening and we don’t need to hate what’s happening. We can have a radically different relationship to what comes up.


To take part in this retreat, please become a Tricycle Community Supporting or Sustaining Member. Sharon Salzberg’s new book Real Happiness is available to Tricycle Community members for the month of April with a 20% discount, free shipping in the US, and free e-book for instant download.

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