While browsing through the Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee, a compilation of reflections on the technical and philosophical aspects of martial arts, I came across a section where he identified several diseases of the mind. There was one that particularly stood out for me.
The desire to get rid of whatever disease one is affected by.
These words may seem absurd. How could something as sincere and noble as aspiring to put an end to a disease be considered a disease in itself?
Whenever we come across an obstacle in our path, it is understandable that we would wish to overcome it. As we want to get rid of the things in our way, we would want to rid ourselves of anything that causes us unease.
Although this may seem obvious, why have we found it so hard to conquer our personal weaknesses and inhibitions? For thousands of years, countless leaders have delivered messages of peace, humility and compassion to humanity. Despite all this, why have we been such slow learners?
An everyday example may help illustrate our dilemma. Let us consider the following case study:
Charlie tends to get angry easily. His spouse and friends have been hurt on several occasions by his outbursts. Charlie wants to overcome his anger. The anger is the disease that he wants to rid himself of.
How could such a noble aspiration work against Charlie? If he condemns his anger and views its presence as an indication of something wrong in himself, Charlie is unlikely to make much progress in subduing his anger. His resistance to his own anger will shut down his capacity to be aware of its actual nature. We turn our awareness away from whatever we judge or condemn.
Many of us suffer from an emotional wounding of not feeling good enough as we are. In her bestselling book, You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay claimed that all of her clients issues, whether related to finance, overweight or illness arose from a central belief of not being good enough. Born on the Mountaintop, a book I co-authored several years ago delves into how this sense of not being good enough can entangle us within 13 Life Addictions that can distort so much of what we experience and do.
Charlie is likely feeling the same way. He probably doesn’t feel good enough as he is and feels a lot worse knowing that he has an anger management issue. His anger is no longer just a problem that needs to be solved; it has become a testament to his unworthiness as a person. So long as the anger persists, Charlie feels less deserving of the self-love and self-acceptance that he lacks and longs for.
We tend to resist that which we wish to overcome because we believe that its presence is an indication of something lesser about us. Since most of us are already not feeling too great about ourselves, the last thing we want is to be reminded of is our weaknesses.
Though ideals can behold the power to inspire us, our tendency to consider the presence of certain undesirable qualities as an indication of personal weakness inhibits our capacity for self improvement. In the psychological realm it is next to impossible to overcome what we resist.
Good versus Evil
Right versus Wrong
Peace versus Anger
Love versus Hate
Humility versus Pride
The mind is easily divided against itself. Whenever we esteem certain qualities and despise their opposite, we turn our mind into a battlefield where we are essentially fighting against ourselves, waging a battle we cannot win.
Evil, wrongdoing, anger, hatred and pride, for instance, are not our enemies. Their presence in our lives does not prove that something is lacking in us. It would be more healthy for us to understand that the disease is not the enemy. When we behold the disease without judgment or resistance of any kind, it will show us its cure.
In every problem lies the very solution we seek.
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