Mind monsters

emotional intelligence

Last night I was having trouble sleeping so I plopped down on the couch to watch infomercials. The infomercial I picked was religious in nature, and was talking about mind monsters.

At first I was laughing out load, laughing at how gullible people must be to believe in this stuff. Mind Monsters - what a silly idea - sheesh. Then I started listening. The mind monsters this evangelist was describing were the negative emotions we all have. Negative emotions like anger, and ego. This evangelist was preaching the same ideas any good book on Buddhism and Taoism often discusses. What the preacher said next sounded funny at first, but after some contemplation I realized I liked it. The preacher proceeded to tell this parable: Say you have a prize horse that you’re training to win the Kentucky derby. Do you feed this horse ketchup and peanut butter? Of course not - you need this horse to win so you feed it the highest quality oats you can find. Now, isn’t your mind far more important than a race horse? Surely you shouldn’t be focusing on silly things like anger and ego.

That parable reminded me that I’ve been spending too much time focusing on silly things like being critical. Since a rose by any other name still smells as sweet, I have to say, I believe in mind monsters.

There’s a great poem on the topic by the author of Search Inside Yourself (Chade-Meng Tang)

My monsters. Greed, hatred, envy, anger, agitation, egoistic pride, lust, etc. They come in different forms, shapes, colors and sizes. Over the years, I have learned to deal with them. I do that by letting go. First, I let go of my wish to control or suppress them. When they arrive, I acknowledge them. I let them be. Next, I let go of my instinct to vilify them. I seek to understand them. I see them for who they are. They are merely creations of my body and mind. I humor them a little. I joke with them. I joke about them. I let them play. And then, I let go of my desire to feed them. They may play here all they want. But they get no food from me. They are free to stay here hungry, if they want. And I continue to let them be. And then they get really hungry. And sometimes they leave. Finally, I let go of my desire to hold on to them. They are free to leave as they wish. I let them go. I am free. For now. I do not overcome them. They do not overcome me. And we live together. In harmony.