Originally Cont’d from don’t squander away your life 12-5-09
How can I deal with PTSD and prevent “squandering away” my life?
Rather than explode, yell, and/or lash out like a kid swinging blindly not caring who you hurt, I can simply do nothing. Nothing except throw my arms up . . . . figuratively or even literally . . . . in a gesture of “surrendering” to the intensely stressful moment, and simply do just that “let go.” These consequences usually provide me with a far better outcome.
What’s all this have to do with squandering away your life, you might ask?
The Buddhist chant that pierced into my psyche forced me to look at where I am going:
A W A K E N
“Awaken,” it called to me.” Take heed,” the words continued as I felt their power somehow interrupt my life and send me a message from a place above.
The message was: Thou Shalt Not Squander Away Your Life.
Not to use PTSD, or some other excuse to stop me from realizing the true purpose of life . . . .
to . . . . serve . . . . humanity . . . . somehow . . . . someway . . . . with love . . . . with compassion . . . . and with forgiveness.
Otherwise, this veteran will have squandered away his life just as another Greek did a couple of thousand years ago when Achilles failed to spare the Life of Hector. You remember the story of Achilles and the King of Troy‘s number one son, Hector. Achilles could have appeased the gods who took away his life. He was the greatest warrior of that ancient age; he was the “Iliad‘s” favorite hero. And after 10 years of war with Troy, he must have suffered from PTSD. I believe that he could have averted his fate by simply focusing on his breath, rather than focusing on his rage, thus squandering away his life.
A different life was but a breath away. A new life for all of us is but a breath away.
Yes, this could be connected to dropping desires, but that sounds to me too much like repressing desires because Buddhism says, “thou shalt not desire.” I am not in favor of imposing any such ideal upon myself.
Yes, Osho certainly does talk repeatedly about the futility of desire, but his emphasis is that we need to SEE desire for what it is rather than to follow any edict about not having desires. That may sound like hair splitting, but I think there is a very real difference in SEEING (or using ‘mindfulness’if you will) the futility of desire (and therefore dropping desire) and imposing a value of nondesiring upon yourself.
But I understand what you’re saying, and if it works for you, then good. I would just want to be careful about trading one problem — desire and anger for another problem — repressed desire and anger. And if you don’t have any anger or desire because you’ve repressed it, how are you going to SEE it? Hmmm? :-))
I’ll buy that!
Yes, you can focus on your breath. That never worked for me. Learning to understand my anger did help though. This article from Psychology Today helped me more than anything else has to understand anger. The part about anger actually having its own personality and the sense of disempowerment was especially helpful. I could really relate to that. Here’s an excerpt:
…when wishes are thwarted, it always and without exception, leads to a sense of lack of power, or a sense of impotence, or a sense simply of disempowerment. And here it comes – whenever there is disempowerment, we get angry – always. We may not know it, but we do. And this is true of each and every person on this little dot in the cosmos we call earth.
Now, why is this true that anger is the universal response to disempowerment? The answer is that when a person feels disempowered, frequently the only way to feel re-empowered is to be angry. And we all want to be empowered. Yes, anger is a re-empowerment, because like any other primary emotion, anger has a personality, and it is this personality that tells the story. What? An emotion such as anger can have a personality? Yes, basic emotions each have a distinct personality – including anger.
Let’s examine the emotion of anger so that we can see its personality.
Anger’s personality consists of the following inclinations, or instincts, or desires:
1. Anger has an aggressive drive. It’s inborn.
2. Anger is expansive. It wants to get bigger.
3. Anger has explosive potential. It wants to burst forth.
4. Anger has an attack inclination. It wants to attack.
5. Anger has a confrontational inclination. It wants to get tough.
6. Anger has an entitled frame of mind. It feels it has the right to get tough.
7. Anger sees itself as an empowerment. It eliminates feelings of helplessness.
So, there you have it. Anger like any other basic emotion has a personality based upon a single command. In the case of anger, this command is to: ATTACK! Why? Because none of the basic or primary emotions cares a hoot about civilization. Each of these basic emotions only responds to what is its nature. For example, fear only wants to flee, while anger only wants to attack. This is why we’re all responsible to try to manage our emotions better so that they’re not permitted to simply realize their destiny (anger to attack, fear to flee, disgust to reject, acceptance to incorporate, and so forth).
The reason ANGER is the key, therefore, (even though love may make the world go ‘round) is that since we’re always trying to get our wishes met (and can’t), then we get frustrated and angry and the anger is designed to give us the feeling of being re-empowered – almost as though we did get our wish met and exactly when and how we wanted it met.
Are you saying that a person might be able to avoid anger by having fewer wishes, or desires? Isn’t that what Buddhishm offers? The means by which one can detach themselves from desires or what the article calls our “wishes.”
If I have no wishes that can be frustrated, then perhaps I will have no anger. Or, if I have “fewer” wishes or desires, then I should have fewer moments of feeling disempowered.
JhanaJian, I could hug you!