Friday, August 26, 2011

Preventing An "Undignified State" of Inaction

"To understand worry is to know it calmly and clearly for what it is: transient, contingent and devoid of intrinsic identity. Whereas to misunderstand it is to freeze it into something fixed, separate, and independent. Worrying about whether a friend still likes us, for example becomes an isolated thing rather than a part of a process emerging from a stream of contingencies. This perception induces in turn a mood of feeling psychologically blocked, stuck, obsessed. The longer this undignified state persists, the more we become incapable of action. The challenge of the first truth is to act before habitual reactions incapacitate us."

The message from Buddhism Without Beliefs by Stephen Batchelor reflects a form of preventive detachment which I found useful. I needed  a couple of read-throughs of the paragraph to absorb what he was saying. E.g. A worry of the negative self-talk variety can easily become a seemingly real and solid structure in our mind, arresting our ability to function effectively. I really like his use of the phrase, "undignified state", to describe the result of being stuck and obsessed.

A copy of the paragraph on the bedside table, a handy quick visual image representing the "undignified state" can help us all move quickly to a dignified state of action over the weekend.
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