The poet William Wordsworth said, “The world is too much with us.” Some of us are so busy and absorbed in worldly activity that we lose perspective on our feelings and state of mind. We cannot even bear peace or quietness. We find it painful and scary not to have something active going on, such as talking, playing, digging, building, writing, counting, or worrying! Some people aren’t even aware how unhappy they are, because of their attachment to excitement, cravings, and worries. Grasping at “self” can be like scratching at psoriasis, it almost seems enjoyable but it only enflames the irritation. Although we have the capacity to be peaceful, our true nature has become so obscured that peace of mind has become an unknown commodity.
There’s a famous story about the mother of one of the Buddha’s main disciples. After she took rebirth in hell, her son, through the power of his spiritual feats, went to that realm of suffering to rescue her. He patiently gave her the teachings that could change the negative conditions of her mind. She was able to free herself from the infernal realm, but was so attached to her place in hell that she pleaded with the other inhabitants, “Please don’t let anybody take my place.” It was not because she enjoyed the hell realm, but it was the only place she remembered or was familiar with, so she clung to what she feared losing.
Excerpted from: Boundless Healing, Tulku Thondup, Shambhala Publications