A Note on Comparison
One of the biggest thieves of joy in my life is when the mind starts comparing “me” and my actions to what would, could or should have been! It doesn’t seem to matter much WHAT is being compared. The very act of comparison has an inherent anxiety in it. Inquiry tells me that comparison is usually based on two things: the ideal and the real. The ideal is always something to attain, something better. And the real – what is actually happening – is relegated to a lesser status. So, in the comparison, “I” always come up short!
Further inquiry reveals the disturbing nature of this comparison: the “ideal” almost never can be attained! No matter how hard I try to achieve it, it eludes me! And those amazingly rare moments when I DO achieve it, the mind won’t let me hold on to that satisfaction. Instead, it insists I do it again, or do something BETTER!
Now, after many of these inquiries, when I step back and recognize that comparison is happening, usually the comparison just drops out of sight! It’s as if the mind – finding that it has been caught in this game – quietly slips away!
I read an intriguing Japanese proverb: “The reverse side also has a reverse side.”
It says to me that both sides – both poles of a polarity – must be recognized.
That is one of the most difficult things for the mind to grasp. For example, there is “good” and “bad.” The mind chooses one (almost invariably “good”) and then rejects what it calls “bad.” This creates a perpetual need for “bad” so that it can be “good.” After all, “good” is defined by “bad.”
What a crazy game! When we understand that good and bad are two sides of the same coin, we can relax into whatever is happening, without choosing one over the other. We have both sides, and to exclude one creates the need to keep the separation – and the other side – alive.
Imagine choosing day over night. What a futile life that would be…
March 17, 2011
A friend wrote: “Sitting here in India in a wheelchair with a fractured leg and being reminded again that it always could be worse. How humbling.”
He was referring to Japan and the devastating earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear reactor situation there.
It reminded me that comparison is the territory of the mind. And finding that things could be worse is its compensation for a situation that it doesn’t like.
Of course, under the table, the mind is also saying, “Things could be better! So why me?!!”
If we just stay with what is, then we can drop any notion of comparison and that there is a problem to begin with.
So a fractured leg becomes an opportunity to watch the mind’s comparing nature and how that game is played. And perhaps, after seeing that enough…and penetrating it enough, we will drop the whole game….