In this new series on Buddhist philosophy, we explore different teachings of the Buddha that are easily relatable in our modern life. In this episode we discuss:
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SSS4E1 Are You Creating Your Own Suffering?
Debra Maldonado, Robert Maldonado
Debra Maldonado 00:01
Hello, welcome to Soul Sessions. This is season number four. We have a new season, we have a new series, and we're in a new place and a new time. Lots of new things today.
Robert Maldonado 00:21
We wanted to start off this new season with something special, and Buddhism for us has been a special philosophy that has played a big role in our work.
Debra Maldonado 00:39
I remember when we first met, you were going to the Buddhist center in Denver, you took me there. You said “There's gonna be deities”, you thought I was gonna be freaked out by it. I said “I've seen it all.” We used to go out every Wednesday, they would have a meditation night, it was really wonderful.
Robert Maldonado 01:02
I wouldn't say it was my first experience with meditation, but certainly one of the most profound and intensive practices that I've done. We've been talking about the different approaches to the divine. And if you've noticed, they all lead to the same place. They take different approaches, some work with the intellect, some work with the emotions, devotion, others work through selfless action in the world. But they all have one thing in common — they're teaching us how to disidentify ourselves with the ego. When we over identify with his ego, with persona, as Jung would say, we become very limited, we're very self centered.
Debra Maldonado 02:10
We become self critical and are always analyzing ourselves.
Robert Maldonado 02:15
And it leads to what Buddha called suffering. We'll start talking about how do we create our own suffering? Why do we create this suffering? Then maybe a little bit of what we can do, because we're going to do a series on Buddhist philosophy, we'll be talking a little bit more about how to transcend this ego level of suffering.
Debra Maldonado 02:51
Suffering is the topic for today because it's everyone's favorite topic. It gets to the root of why we seek spirituality, why we seek coaches, and therapists, and helpers in the world. Because we're suffering in some way. Some people suffer a lot from big things, other people are suffering from a lack of meaning. The world is full of it. We're going to talk about that. We want to talk about the difference between religion and philosophy. I was raised Catholic, so I thought, if you're studying Catholicism, it's a religion. I didn't think of it as a philosophy or about a way I can apply it. I don't have to be Christian to understand Jesus's teaching. It's the same thing with Buddha. You don't have to become a Buddhist to use the teachings of the Buddha.
Robert Maldonado 03:58
Buddha put it very nicely, he said religion has three things — a philosophy, a mythology, and a ritual, or a set of rituals. If you look at Catholicism, there's a rooted philosophy that comes from the Greeks and Jewish law and tradition. They have a set of rituals, Jung loved the whole Catholic practices because he saw a lot of the pagan traditions carried on in Catholicism. Then the mythology of course, which, if you're a Catholic, you don't consider that mythology. You consider it part of the history of the church. But the mythology of Jesus. They’re all combined, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When you combine all those three elements, you get religion, which is more than the sum of those elements.
Debra Maldonado 05:30
It is psychologically a very powerful tool for change. If you really believe, there's so many religions, you can't say one is better than the other. But if you really believe, it can have a transformation in your life.
Robert Maldonado 05:47
But if we look at the philosophy, we're taking a certain part of that.
Debra Maldonado 05:55
We're not doing all the rituals. You could believe in the beautiful sayings of Jesus without having to go to church, or going through baptism, practicing and repenting and all those ideas, or even believing in the myth. You could say “That person was wise, I believe he existed.” The same thing with Buddha. Did he sit in front of the Bodhi tree and have this enlightenment experience? Do you have to go and attend the poojas and do all these rituals? Or can you look at Buddha, what he taught and say “That can apply in my life, this makes a lot of sense.” That's the difference between philosophy and religion. That's a really good way to look at that.
Robert Maldonado 06:50
When we look at the Buddhist philosophy, it really came of age and was developed by Buddha himself. In an age of consciousness, we can draw a direct line in his philosophy to the Upanishads, to the Vedas, although some practitioners of Buddhism would say that's not correct because it's a religion for them. And we're simply talking about the philosophy. If you look at his philosophy, it’s definitely tied to that whole culture, the Vedas, it's coming directly from it. It's one of the schools that grew out of the Vedas. The important part about that is that in a consciousness paradigm, he was not talking about a material universe. That's a big difference in these paradigms. If you read Buddhism today, just Buddhist philosophy, from a materialistic perspective, you're going to get the wrong interpretation.
Debra Maldonado 08:06
The way Christ taught, I'm assuming he wasn't thinking of a material philosophy. But everyone took it that way.
Robert Maldonado 08:16
What that means is that in the consciousness paradigm the basic element of existence of creation, anything you see in the universe, is awareness, consciousness, not the other way around. From the materialistic perspective, when you look at objects in the universe, you're saying “What is fundamental about that experience is material matter. If you reduce it down to its elements, matter is at the heart of it.” In a consciousness paradigm, it's the opposite. What is irreducible about that experience is the awareness, consciousness, that space of being aware of something is the foundation of existence. Very different paradigms. I encourage you, even if you don't buy into it, to ask yourself “What if the universe existed in this consciousness way instead of a material way?”
Debra Maldonado 09:31
Instead of the solid objects that we have to move around, that are permanent — and we're going to get into that today with the impermanent. The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism is life is suffering. As soon as you're born, you're going to die. Your life is not forever, we age, we get sick and we die. Life is suffering already. But there's a cause for that suffering and there's a way out of that suffering. The way is what Buddha called the Eightfold Path.
Robert Maldonado 10:14
Let's begin with the suffering question. When we hear suffering, we think pain, illness, death. But that's not really what Buddha meant in his philosophy. If you read it carefully and consider his perspective, he's saying that there's this unsatisfactory experience in our craving, our desire for things that we expect to make us happy. But there's always this sense of dissatisfaction, like a little pebble in our shoe, no matter how much we consume, how much we get and acquire, we're still dissatisfied.
Debra Maldonado 11:10
They say the worst thing that can happen is getting what you want. When you get what you want, it doesn't last, you feel fear. When you don't get what you want, you have suffering. It's like a trap if your mind is identifying with something external to make you feel good. A great example we've all had is you experience more joy, excitement and happiness the day before your vacation because it's anticipation, we're like looking forward to it, we're excited thinking about it. When it happens, you think “I only have six days left, it's going so fast. I want to get everything out of this vacation.” You start thinking about going back to work. Vacation is supposed to be happy, but the happiness is misplaced. That's what we're talking about suffering. Of course, there's big suffering in the world, wars and terrible things that happen. But even in our everyday life, it's that dissatisfaction the ego mind creates.
Robert Maldonado 12:25
He would say that the catastrophes that we see in the world are the accumulation of all that, the seeds are in our own approach to things. We expect these things to give us happiness in a faulty way, we're not perceiving reality as it really is. Therefore, we are in error, and that accumulation of all those smaller errors then create what we call wars, the catastrophe of human nature.
Debra Maldonado 13:09
The cause of suffering then is the ego, the identification with the ego. The ego is the sense of I, me, mine. We perceive ourselves as separate from the world, the objects in the world are things that we need to attain. If I get that car, I feel good. If I get that partner, I'll feel good. If I have this amount of money in the bank, if I get that promotion. If I get rid of my illness, I'll feel good. This whole concept of the I is never okay. We're always aging, we're always moving toward this dissatisfaction with whatever we have. So what makes the ego create suffering?
Robert Maldonado 14:00
It's fundament error based on our perception. The fundamental error is that we see the world and think it's separate from us. It's a dualistic perception, we think I am inside my head, observing the world, but the world is out there separate from me. If I close my eyes, I go away, the world continues the way I've experienced it but without me.
Debra Maldonado 14:34
It's like you drop into the world but are separate from this machine that's happening, not feeling connected to it.
Robert Maldonado 14:42
That is a misperception. It is a fundamental error that we make based on our human nature. That's what Buddha was talking about. He says, if you just go by your sensory experiences, you're going to fall into this fundamental error believing that you are the ego, you are experiencing something that is occurring outside yourself.
Debra Maldonado 15:17
I was reading Adi Shankara, who is also around the time of Buddhism, and Buddhism came out of Vedanta. He said it's like cutting the skin. We think “Oh, my skin got cut.” If you identify with the mind and the body, this is me, this is my skin — it's painful. But if you look at a tree and cut the tree’s branch off, you don't identify with the tree, you don't say that's me, you say that’s a tree. There's no suffering in that. It feels weird because I'm not a tree, I'm a person in this body. It's that attachment that I am this body, I am this ego that keeps us suffering even when things happen to us. We hang on to being cut a while ago, where the tree’s like “I'll just grow another limb”, the tree is not not fazed by it as much as the ego is, it doesn't have an ego like we have.
Robert Maldonado 16:15
One of the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophy is this idea of no self. It extends into the idea that maybe he was talking about the Hindu or Vedic idea of the soul. But he was very much a psychologist. He was talking about our immediate experience, our everyday experiences. I read it more as he was talking about the ego self. There is no ego self. If you think about this self, where do you find it? Do you find it in your experience of things, in your perceptions, in your emotions?
Debra Maldonado 17:08
Is this hand a part of your body? Do you say this hand is me? If they cut off your finger, would that be you? Am I the 7 year old? Am I the 10 year old? Am I the baby? We're gonna go we have a whole thing on no self.
Robert Maldonado 17:29
Again, the fundamental error makes us feel like there is a solid I, a solid ego in us that is observing the world and experiencing it separately from our mind in essence.
Debra Maldonado 17:52
I always say to our clients and students, when they're working with people, creating their life, they're getting them out of that suffering. “My mother did this to me, or this happened to me, I have to build my confidence.” No, the only problem you have to solve is that everything that causes all the unhappiness in your life is you believe you're the ego, that's everything. Even in our trainings we say “You're always bringing the client to either build up to ego, which is like increasing suffering in a way. Or you're moving them away to individuate as Jung would say, away from the ego.” That's where I love how Jung and a lot of psychology works really well with Eastern philosophy, because he had the same idea but he came from another place. He started looking into the Eastern philosophy. Around that time, Eastern wisdom started coming to the US and Europe, in 1900s. There was a lot of merging of East West at that time.
Robert Maldonado 19:03
Buddhism has been very influential in the West, a lot more than people understand and believe, because it even goes back to the Greeks. The Greeks came in contact with Buddhist philosophy through Alexander the Great. When he went into India, Buddhism was very powerful at that time. Some of the Greek philosophers that went to India then brought it back to Greece and to the West.
Debra Maldonado 19:30
So there's suffering, life is suffering. Number two is there is a cause for suffering, that's the identification with the ego. And then the way out of that suffering. I made a comment, why don't you talk about how to create joy. One of the most amazing things that’s going to change your life — we don't have to create joy. The joy is already within us. The identification with the ego puts a veil over the joy, it's underneath it. It's not something we have to manufacture or create. It's our natural state. He said if you take a glass of water and put dirt into it, and stir it up, it appears that the water is dirty. But that's not true. If you look under microscope, you see that the water molecules are separate from the dirt molecules, they have never touched. It's that appearance of dirtiness, the appearance of suffering, but there's joy already there, we just can't see it. He said, when that sediment settles to the bottom of the glass, the water’s naturally clear. When we meditate, that's actually what we're doing. We're doing these practices of letting go of the ego, we're purifying our mind, so the noise can settle. The joy will naturally arise from that. We don't have to manufacture it, we don't have to create it. We don't have to do things to create joy, except it's more of letting go and allowing the joy to naturally arise. I always remember that metaphor because it's so clear. It just appears to be dirty, but it's not. What I love about Buddhists is that they give a lot of great metaphors and stories to help you understand because the ego is gonna block you from understanding those concepts.
Robert Maldonado 21:23
Going back to that dualistic perception we have of us and the world, if it’s not dualistic, it's non dual. Buddhist philosophy is non dual at heart, which means everything you're perceiving is the same as your awareness of it. This is a very different perceptual reality than what we experience in our everyday. These objects that we see in the world, other people, events in our life, the universe in general appears to us to be outside of us. The reality, Buddha's saying, is that everything is within that awareness, everything is your consciousness, there is no separation. Why does he talk about compassion? Because it’s the ultimate reality that when you see somebody suffering, you're seeing an aspect of yourself suffering. When you're seeing somebody hurt, you're seeing an aspect of yourself hurt. The way you work with the world, the way you are in the world, is a very different way that you are taking care of the world.
Debra Maldonado 22:57
Because you are the world as Michael Jackson would say. What I love about that, especially now the world is so divided, we can't really resolve our problems by being against someone else. The only way we can resolve it is through the practice of seeing that we're not separate — Jung says, what irritates us about others is really pointing us to ourselves. And the joy others feel is your joy too, you're just not having a personal experience of it right now. But it’s your experience. But the perception that you're the ego and that person is separate is us versus them. That's what really creates suffering.
Robert Maldonado 23:49
He boils down to this. When they asked him “What is your teaching about?” he says “All I'm teaching is suffering and the cessation of suffering”, meaning the end of suffering, because as long as you hold on to that perception of me and the world, that dualistic nature of our perception, you'll always be creating your own suffering because you're not seeing things clearly. You're in that fundamental error. As you correct it, as you start to see that all sentient beings, like he says, are worthy of compassion because they are you, then you start to see that if nature is hurting, that's part of me. If I throw trash in the river, if I hurt an animal, I'm hurting myself in some way. That understanding is really based on perceiving a deeper reality of things, the interconnectedness of things.
Debra Maldonado 25:05
It really does, that us versus them thing or competition or I'm right and you're wrong. Those kinds of things even in families, any conflicts that arise — I'm seeing myself in those people. Jung talks about this with the shadow and the projection and even psychology talks about this. Like you said, Buddha was a psychologist. I think the hardest part is, it's easy to think “I'm that famous person, I'm like Oprah who’s so wise, I'm a wise teacher.” But it's hard to look at people that are bad and wrong and say “They are like me too.” I think that's the bigger thing. The people that give us the trouble and are perceived to give us trouble are the ones that our greatest teachers and hardest to love.
Robert Maldonado 26:03
Here you see something fundamental about Buddhism. He's not saying you have to develop this compassion and love for others artificially, or from the ego, like I'm in my head, those people are separate but I have to be loving and kind towards them. No, that's not what he means. He means you have to change your perception to where you see them as yourself.
Debra Maldonado 26:30
You're not pretending to give compassion. I’m the better person because I study Buddhist philosophy, so I'm going to send you love. That's coming from the ego, I'm wise and you're not. We don't want to have that kind of mentality, we want to really see that it's us.
Robert Maldonado 26:55
Then you're acting compassionately not because a philosophy or religion tells you you should be that way. You're being that way because you see that it's reality, it's the fundamental way of being, that it is the way to be in the world. It's a very different approach. If we read it from a materialistic perspective, we can only deduce this “I have to be kind because it's these rules, commandments.” But when you see it from the non dual perspective, you're understanding that it's because that's the way it truly is.
Debra Maldonado 27:42
When I first started doing this practice of [inaudible], taking on the suffering of others, it created something opposite of what I intended. I asked the nun, and she goes, she had a British voice “Deborah, were you just pretending to do that?” It's that attachment to you're doing it to get something, you're doing it to make the world different, I'm going to send them love, so they change. Or I'm going to send them love, so I can not have this experience anymore. But what we really want to do is do this as a practice to know who we are. The goal is really self realization versus manifesting something. I was doing it from manifestation. If I take this on, this won't happen to me again. What happened was the thing happened again, and I said “What is going on here?” It's because my ego took it on, and my ego was trying to get rid of something by using this practice. That's where I see a lot of people, I myself fall trap to this idea, that you use the spiritual principles to work and manipulate the material world. But the spiritual practice is really self realization. Then you're not as attached to what happens in the world and what shows up. The Eightfold Path, do you want to review it really quick? It's a practice of Buddhism, right knowledge, right action.
Robert Maldonado 29:19
It's pretty much following the Buddhist teachings and absorbing the philosophy.
Debra Maldonado 29:25
But you don't have to follow all of them to reduce your suffering in the world. What Jung taught in his idea of individuation is very similar to the Buddhist practice of letting go, seeing your projection of your shadow, the parts that you don't see about yourself in others, seeing that and realizing that they're you and that everything is you and that you're more than that, there's this other bigger self that's beyond just these personality traits that you are.
Robert Maldonado 30:00
Because what we saw after initiating our relationship through Buddhist philosophy was that if we try to apply these very deep, beautiful concepts in Buddhism and Eastern philosophy directly, it's very difficult because we're living in the material world where its primary paradigm is materialism, meaning everyone around us, almost without exception, has bought into this materialistic paradigm. As human beings, we tend to synchronize our point of view with the group that we associate with.
Debra Maldonado 30:54
It's a confirmation, like a cognitive bias in a way. You're seeing things and you're studying Buddhism from that materialistic standpoint.
Robert Maldonado 31:07
Even if you're not, as soon as you go out xand interact with work people, offices, social groups, you’re back. What we saw was we needed a more practical, personal psychology to begin to decondition our mind around this false perception. Jung’s Shadow Work does that, it's a perfect way to approach your mind in a very personal way, because he's talking about what triggers you, what are your dreams telling you, what's coming up for you in your personal experiences, but then pointing to the fact that all these things are arising from your own mind, which is pretty much a Buddhist philosophy as well.
Debra Maldonado 32:06
I really like that. When I first started I was a hypnotherapist doing this work in personal development, and it was all about reprogramming, I got to reprogram the ego so it's more confident and positive. Repair the past of my ego’s story, reframe it, which is good for the first level, but what we're talking about here is the next level of evolution for people. You can build up, you need a strong ego to do this kind of work. But there's a time where you have to let go of the ego, that identification with I'm a good person, I'm a smart person, I'm a beautiful person, I'm kind person, or that I'm not good enough even, the identification with things that you aren't sure of yourself and see that there's something bigger than just this little I. I think one of the ways we can start doing that is the concept of impermanence that Buddhism teaches, that nothing ever lasts. When my dad died, it was the day before the funeral at my mom's house, we were putting old pictures together of him. His whole life, I saw him as a little boy, and then all our Christmases together and us as little kids. We were all in the 40s and 50s, his children grown up, and all the passages of time. The thought came to me that you can't hang on to anything. Life keeps moving. It's what [name, inaudible] calls the groundlessness of life. We resist, the ego resists that. It's that suffering that we can accept, that people leave, things change, we're getting older, money goes in and out. We're always trying to grasp the world and try to hold on to it. It just made me realize how little I was in the present moment in my life. I didn't cherish those moments because we assume they're always going to be there, that we can always go back home for Christmas, we can always go back to that day being a little kid, the night before Christmas Eve. I don't know if you remember in your house, but for me it was anticipation and believing and Santa, believing in these things we did as kids. Then we lose that childlike idea as we become adults. Who we are just keeps evolving and changing. In a way it's sad that we can't hang on to everything but also it's good because we can always reinvent ourselves. We're never stuck anywhere because the life keeps moving. The only thing that we hang on to is the things that we want to. And when we do, that's what causes us suffering, we hang on to things that happened to us, or how our parents screwed us up. Those things cause actually more suffering than the actual event that people experience because they hang on to it.
Robert Maldonado 35:21
As long as we hang on to those imprints from the past, we're caught in that sense of ego. That separateness that we see others, the world separate from us, and that we are separated. That's the ego essentially, it's an experience, it's not a part of our brain. It's not really anything solid. In our mind, it's simply like a function that automatically takes us to this sense of separateness.
Debra Maldonado 36:00
It's a concept of ourself that's always evolving, but it's not real.
Robert Maldonado 36:11
It functions very well for survival because you take care of yourself in essence, you're looking for yourself. But once we get into higher realms of social interaction, spiritual questions, it doesn't work very well, because we're encapsulated in our past and personal experiences. All these three spiritual traditions, all these practices, including Jungian psychology, which is really a spiritual psychology, is pointing to a way of dissolving our ego. Not aggressively getting rid of it, but working with it so that we can understand the true nature of our mind. Like you say, that happiness that's already there, that peacefulness, the clear light of our awareness, it's there, but it's covered over by our misperception of the world, our ego.
Debra Maldonado 37:14
What we're saying is that the external events and the situations in our life, the only reason why we suffer is because we identify or label it as that, we give it name and form. We say “That is a bad thing, this is a good thing.” Most of what we perceive in the world is from our past conditioning, from that ego remembering, which is, like you said, good for survival — putting your hand on a hot stove — don't do that, it’s bad. When I jump in the ocean and it's 80 degrees, it's beautiful and very comfortable. But when it's 60 degrees, it's a little chilly and it's uncomfortable. We have those mechanisms to help us remember the pleasant and the unpleasant. But then think about all the accumulation of all our life, our mind has accumulated all these stories about what's pleasant and unpleasant. We just react to the world. We're just not free because we're just being pulled around. I realized this with Buddhism, that idea that everything is not as real as it seems, everything is not as negative as it seems. We have this assumption, a hard black and white thinking. To be open to this could actually be good or there's some joy in this. There's a great story of two monks, Buddhists, walking down in the field or in the forest. They come across a small river, but it's rushing water. There's a young woman standing at the river, she was afraid to cross it. One of the monks picked her up, carried her over with the other monk and dropped her off at the river. An hour later, the monks were walking in silence, and then all of a sudden, the other monk who didn't pick her up said “I'm so mad at you, how could you have broken your vows? We're not supposed to be touching women. This is bad. I can't believe you risked everything, you should have left her there.” The other monk looked at him and goes “I put her down an hour ago, why are you still carrying her?” That's this concept of things that happen in the moment, and we carry them in our mind, and they continue to torture us. We're really just torturing ourselves. The event happened, we continue to try to torture ourselves and blame other people and want to get even and want to have a good comeback. This kind of stewing of the mind is just making us suffer. If we know that, we could just put it out. We'd naturally feel joy. But it's not as easy as it seems.
Robert Maldonado 40:01
It’s a process or a practice, it's a good way to put it, because that's what Buddha was getting at. If indeed our suffering is caused by our misperception, which is our mind, the answer is to work with our mind. If we don't, we're caught in our past experiences, our conditioning, our karma. That is basically the condition of most human beings on the planet. They're caught in their personal experiences, projecting those personal experiences onto the world and thinking the problem is out there. It's these other people that are making me suffer, or causing the problems, not me. That's the ego.
Debra Maldonado 41:04
You have two people having a same experience, an event that happened that maybe set them back, maybe their parents got divorced. And then one of them continues to suffer in relationships and say “Love doesn't last” and repeat the pattern. The other person uses that to find a way to find love. The event itself did not cause the suffering, it's the mind around the event, the perception of the event, how far that person's carrying it, that creates the future of the person and their life. You could look at your sibling, and I think genetically some people have a more positive attitude than others, we get a lot from our family of how to perceive the world, it's passed down from generations. But everyone has the opportunity to be free, no matter what happened to you. Everyone has the opportunity to have joy in their life, no matter what circumstances.
Robert Maldonado 42:03
After Buddha awakened himself through meditation under the Bodhi tree, he walked to the nearest village and wanted to teach people. He decided this is a good path, let’s try to teach people this idea of the mind, how to end suffering. A kid ran up to him and asked, because he appeared so differently, “Are you a god?” And he says “No, not a god.” “Are you an angel?” “I'm not an angel.” “Well, what are you?” And he says “I'm simply awake.” By application, that means that most of us are asleep. We're asleep to the true reality of things, to the oneness of things, the non dual nature of things. In our sleep we're dreaming our own personal experiences. We're thinking these personal experiences is how the world is. But we're simply seeing our own reflection in the world. It's like a mirror. Jung explains is through the projections of the shadow, we project the things that we've repressed, forgotten, held in our personal unconscious, we project them onto the world, and we think “I'm seeing reality as it is.” But we're simply seeing our own mind. The way to undo that, the way to free ourselves from that encapsulated experience is through Shadow Work, we begin to question that experience. Is this experience really out there? Or is it somehow mine? What part am I playing in creating my own suffering, my own joys, my own work experience, my relationship? Everything gives us an entry point into that inner world through Shadow Work. And the idea integration meaning we accept it as our experiences, as us, the more we're seeing reality as it is, we're seeing the oneness, we're seeing the non dual nature of reality.
Debra Maldonado 44:56
I think it really helps to see the things that we find irritating in others, I think it's so powerful to look at that because it's really a part of ourselves that we judge, or else we wouldn't be triggered. There's a part of me that can be like that, but I'm not acknowledging it. Most people doing the Shadow Work and individuation start to ask themselves the question of why is this person triggering me? What is it about this feeling? We have a process we take people through, but for the ordinary person, it's “That person's bad, I'm shutting them out of my life, or I got to fight to get this person to listen to me and do what I say.” It's this external power that you're projecting onto the person. When you realize “This is in my mind”, it feels like the world just finds a way to resolve itself. So many times I've had a conflict with myself, but it appeared as if someone else was having the conflict. I worked on it with myself, then it automatically resolved itself, the person would come back and be like “I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to be that way.” I didn't even have to tell that person they were inappropriate, I just had to work with my own self, then the person would magically change, and maybe they were never the way that I perceived them to be. They were naturally that way. That's what happens, the ego creates that filter. Then we don't really see a person for who they are. That's why a lot of people practice Buddhism and yoga, the practice of namastay, that the divine in me recognizes the divine in you. That's a beautiful practice, even when someone is really irritating you or you get really angry at someone or someone's angry at you, you have to put yourself as seeing beyond their persona, beyond their reactions, beyond their triggers. Somewhere in them, just like you, is a divine person. You are divine, and connecting on that levels resolves all the illusion on the surface that we're battling, these illusion that are not even real.
Robert Maldonado 47:30
We hope you see why Buddha emphasized suffering — because we have to understand its nature, you cannot end suffering if you don't understand what it is, how it arises in our mind, how it takes over our lives, how we experience it. It's pointing to our mind. Therefore, in the second part of the series we're going to be talking more about the mind and how to work with it.
Debra Maldonado 48:06
“I think this releases tension and you can feel more at peace with yourself and the world.” When we're caught up in the delusion of the ego, it’s like the world is so big, and we're trying to wrestle it, pull all the strings. When we're at peace, everything just flows. You don't need to fix anything, and yourself mostly. One question that came up earlier was how do you tell someone they're creating their own suffering? How do you tell someone because you see your friends, and those of you who are coaches or teachers understand a lot of these concepts and you think “How do I tell my best friend or my mother or my sister, your suffering, you're creating it yourself.” Because a lot of people would be resistant to that.
Robert Maldonado 49:02
It is a process. You have to remember, you start where they're at. You're not going to convince them by simply stating it. But you have to enter their world and help them with the particular situation they're in. What is this trigger about? What is this problem about? Why is it bothering? Why is it such an issue? Then you help them grasp the nature of that problem, how it's connected to their own mind, their own perception of things. That's the best way because it leads them to their own understanding of the nature of suffering. And that's what you want. You want them to have their direct experience of it.
Debra Maldonado 49:57
It's just like gardening. You can plant the seed in a fertile ground, or you can plant the seed in dry earth. If they have that dry hard earth where they're not really ready to hear it yet, you could still plant the seed. But you'll notice that some people are more ripe and more fertile for this idea and ready to be free, and other people want to keep suffering. They hang on to it as a way to hang on to their identity. The ego has a natural defense mechanism against self actualization. Because it knows, once you let go of the ego, it loses its power, it loses itself, and you become something else. That's scary to the ego. So it has that natural mechanism. It's not that you're not doing it right, or you're not sharing it right, it can be frustrating. But just trust and hold that person in the image of becoming. Again, you'll tell someone this, and it'll just change their world. Other people, you'll tell, and it's like a seed floating on the top. It’s harder if they need some more rain, some more mud, some more nutrients, and needs to sink down a little deeper for them to finally get it. But it's a beautiful process. I think one of the greatest ways for people to realize they're not the ego is through the shadow work that we do in our coach training. Really powerful. Because in 15 minutes you ask people questions that will basically break apart their arguments in where they're giving the answers, it's like a self awakening that the person goes through. When that happens, they actually realize it themselves. With this work where you're really helping someone let go of the ego, it's all about them. It comes from inside. There's a part of them that's already aware. But you can't pile on the information and expect them to just realize it, it has to come from within themselves, asking those questions.
Robert Maldonado 52:05
Buddha would say if you really want to help people, you have to free your mind first. You always have to work with your own mind. We can’t really help the world if we're just one more angry person out there, or one more frustrated person, or scared. We have to be awake, we have to awaken ourselves. Once you're awake, you can really help others, then the world will benefit from your human life, your human experience.
Debra Maldonado 52:46
Next week, we will be back here on the East coast. We will be broadcasting 11am Eastern on Fridays. The next topic is the matrix in Buddhism. A lot of people think The Matrix the movie, but The Matrix the movie actually was— the people that developed it studied Buddhism, it's based on Buddhism, Buddhism isn't based on The Matrix the movie. But we're talking about the matrix, that word is really the web of consciousness and how we work with it. “Can the ego refer to the lower brain?” I don't know. I would say the ego is more than just the brain. There is a survival element. But there's also social elements to the ego. The other parts of the brain help the social elements because there's physical survival, and then there's social survival, I can't be embarrassed, I can't be ashamed and all this guilt.
Robert Maldonado 53:54
It depends on what you mean by the lower brain. If you mean the basic human functions, breathing, hunger, sleep, that would be pre-ego, because we could do those things without our sense of I. Animals in a sense, that's how they live, very unconsciously, just going by their instinct.
Debra Maldonado 54:25
A really great example of that are people with Alzheimer's. They don't remember who they are. So they don't have really an ego. They would be operating from that low, just functioning.
Robert Maldonado 54:36
If you notice, even a genius can have a very powerful ego and be caught up in a trance through that ego, through that I. So it doesn't have much to do with intelligence. You can be very intelligent and still be very caught up in this ego.
Debra Maldonado 55:01
Great question. So we'll see you next week. Thank you for joining us and hope you're having a happy summer, staying cool. And we will see you soon.
Robert Maldonado 55:11
See you next time.
Debra Maldonado 55:13
Robert Maldonado 55:14