Ceasing to Normalize Toxicity

In the First Noble Truth, the truth of suffering, Buddha taught the core issue from which all our dissatisfaction arises is the suffering of conditioned awareness. This is the kind of suffering we rarely recognize without the introspection meditation provides. Our habits of mind, the deeply held ideas, ideals, and judgements we have about life, are filters through which we see anything. It is like trying to look outside with the curtains drawn. We might see a few shadowy figures, but there is no clarity.

We have normalized our view with the curtains drawn so we think we are seeing clearly. We have normalized the toxicity of our thinking and therefore believe filtered awareness is the best way to see. It is like a chronic health condition before we realize we have a health condition. Once we are diagnosed we say, “Oh, I thought that was normal.” Buddha diagnosed all our mental health conditions by revealing our hidden clarity. Clarity dawns when we open the curtains and recognize no curtains exist.

It is important to watch the mind like we are watching a movie—a certain distance is necessary. Otherwise we get mired in the movie thinking it is real. We normalize that reality when it is just one movie among an infinite possible movies. Conditioned awareness clings to only one view of reality when reality is infinite. 

Happiness dwells in the infinite. When all possibilities are equal, we become more satisfied with whatever arises, knowing it is okay to be temporarily entertained as long as we know it is not real. So watch your mind in those moments of dissatisfaction and recognize it is an arbitrary choice in a sea of choices. In the most difficult of circumstances we can change how we view the movie, we can alter our perception, shift our attitude, and settle into the wisdom behind whatever displays.

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