(A lecture on the Shadow delivered during the November 2007 one month retreat on “Acceptance” at the Tara Rokpa Centre, Groot Marico.)
I thought what we could do now is start looking at the immediate psychological issues that are involved with varying degrees of non-acceptance. If we look at the structure of personality, I think we’re becoming quite familiar now with the fact that from a psychological, let’s say Jungian point of view – there are three discernible layers. There is the consciousness, where the mind we’re most familiar with now. Then, the subliminal (though Jung doesn’t use that term, he talks about the pre-conscious) and then the unconscious.
Now, what we call “us”, what I think of as “me” is primarily this conscious part, the part that’s rational, logical, works within a linear time-frame, functions cognitively, that is, it take in information, analyses, integrates, acts according to information and so on, so this mind has a fairly limited and rigid perspective on life. It sees life in terms of the way it functions. And it is highly resistant to anything that doesn’t fit into this way of being. So if something starts arising within the conscious mind which it can’t understand or can’t account for, or can’t control, or can’t get rid of, it becomes distressed in one way or another. That’s one thing.
Then we know a lot else about this mind of ours. It’s full of grasping and all the rest of it. So the most familiar territory is what we call the conscious, intelligent, rational mind. Interestingly, the most powerful territory is the unconscious, which is also part of us. So we have this delightful situation where the conscious mind (which is the control freak) thinks it’s in charge of the whole show, but in fact, most of the power is in the unconscious. And unconscious forces are continually playing upon consciousness, more or less determining how consciousness is experiencing itself.
But the unconscious and the conscious live within different dimensions and talk different languages, therefore, they are fundamentally incapable of communicating with each other. No – not fundamentally – they are superficially incapable of communicating with each other. And this is particularly the case in terms of the conscious mind, because most people are not even aware of the existence of the unconscious. Therefore they don’t take it into account a part of their way of being, as part of who they are. And this is a very serious state of affairs because until we take into account the unconscious, we have no hope of understanding ourselves. No hope of knowing why we experience ourselves the way we do. So now we have to ask – what do I mean by “experience ourselves”?
All day and all night we are “experiencing ourselves” because thoughts feelings, moods, mind states, broad psychological conditions, are continually arising into consciousness and being experienced, and they change. They change into the course of a day, a week a month and so on. And this is the most important part of our existence. So we know, for example, that when we’re living in the world, we do things that we hope will make us happy, or we avoid things that we think will make us unhappy, or suffer, or whatever, And that basically is the way human beings work through the world. Seeking what will cause happiness, avoiding what will cause suffering. And to a limited degree, we can manipulate that state of affairs in situations. But where we experience difficulty is that we are aware that changes come upon us. Sometimes we feel happy, sometimes we feel unhappy. Sometimes we feel depressed, sometimes we feel anxious. And often those changes are not in response to discernible states of affairs, or conditions. So particularly sensitive people become aware of the fact that there’s this changing inner environment. Like a sky – sometimes it’s clear, then clouds come over it, then a hurricane blows across it, then it’s clear again. Then it’s peaceful, then there’s a thunder storm. All outside my control.
Now for the average e person, if these manifestations are not too extreme then they see themselves as normal and they lead a “normal” life (in inverted commas). If we’re lucky, we’re neurotic, very neurotic, so the forces that arise within the mind are extreme, and they are so extreme that we can’t deny the fact that something strange is going on. And then we feel motivated to do something about it. That is when powerful unconscious forces are playing upon consciousness, causing unwanted or painful; or disturbing mind states to arise or be experienced.
So that’s the conscious and the unconscious. Now, lying between those two is the subliminal, which I’ve talked about a lot, and the subliminal mind is a narrow belt. The upper level of which is in touch with the conscious mind, the lower level of which hangs down into the unconscious. So the subliminal is the mediator between those two. But it is still its own thing. The subliminal mind functions in its own way, and it performs certain functions. Our reactive mechanisms are lodged within the subliminal. Our subliminal also perceives things we’re not consciously aware of at the time.
This is how, for example we’re able to sense atmosphere in a room, or pick up body language. There are many things that the subliminal mind is picking up, and its feeding information into consciousness, very often not via out cognitive process, and it’s often only alter that we realise “Oh yes, I was picking up something”.
You may have a conversation with somebody, and you might be very busy at the time, but afterwards you might reflect and think “This person was giving off a strange vibe”. Have you ever had this sort of experience? Or something wasn’t quite right. You walk into a room and afterwards you think “there was a strange atmosphere”, or sometimes you may pick it up straight away. There may not be anything said, there may not be anything visible, or a smell or a taste, but it’s telling you this and your subliminal mind is picking it up. So it is that level of our intelligence that is not ruled by rational logical intellectual process. It’s just below that, therefore, it’s more emotionally accurate, there’s more emotional intelligence present within the subliminal. So it performs that function of receiving information, but it’s also the place where reactivity is lodged. Now, this is interesting because I was saying yesterday, when our mindfulness is not very strong, or if we have no mindfulness, we can be very reactive. External stimuli is presented to us and we react immediately and afterwards we may think “How could I have reacted like that?” almost as though I was a different person in that situation. So this is common among people who don’t have mindfulness. They often don’t realise they’re reacting, so instinctive and sudden, but as out mindfulness improves, our awareness of the subliminal grows. So the subliminal is less and less subliminal and more and more within the range of conscious. Then we start picking up what’s going on in the subliminal. And we pick up a lot of things.
We pick up for example, how the mind suppresses. The suppressive mechanisms, the upper levels of the subliminal. We pick up the reactive process. We see the reactivity, we see the mind, we see stimulus, we see the mind process the stimulus, we see it make a choice in relation to the stimulus and then we see it deciding to react.
Now the deciding to react is quite interesting. Let’s suppose the stimulus cause me pain. Pain will arise in the mind. That is outside the range of what I’m talking about. Pain will arise in the mind and it will impact on consciousness at a subliminal level (this is all happening very very quickly). The mind will scan it and realise pain caused by that person and then a decision has to be made. Am I just going to leave it and experience the pain, or am I going to do something? And the decision might be made – I’m going to do something, I’m going to lash out. How dare that person do or say this thing, I’m going to let them know, so I lash out, and that’s my reactive response, that’s my reaction. And that’s how most people work.
As we access the subliminal, we realise at that moment a decision is made, and we also realise we don’t have to follow those old conditioned reflexes. We don’t have to lash out. We can simply experience the pain. Then the situation is different, the mind is different. And that is part of the training from the immature, untamed mind to the mature, tamed mind. The mature mind becomes increasingly less reactive, and that is a product of meditation, because spaciousness comes into the mind, and the space between experiencing the stimulus and the reactive response grows, because there isn’t this immediacy to this subliminal response, there is the intervention of intelligence, and it’s the intelligence that starts to free us from these underlying reactive patterns, so that is part of that. The function of subliminal. So this then we can use as a working model for the way we are at this moment in the world.
Now that’s only part of the story. The other part of the story is what is contained in the unconscious. That’s very important, because what’s contained in the unconscious will determine what forces arise out of the unconscious and play upon consciousness. So we need to look a little at the forces within the unconscious. First of all, the unconscious is instinctive, that is it functions instinctively. It is not accessible to reason or any form of intellectual persuasion. You might as well whistle in the wind as try to reason with the unconscious. As for trying to intellectualise with the unconscious, its even less capable of success. This unconscious is like a force field, it’s like a force of nature.
But the way those forces move and manifest is largely shaped by karmic forces, of course, but also life’s experiences, and this is where we come into this realm of understanding trauma and repression. Where we are traumatised, what it means is that psyche experiences the impact of a force greater than it can withstand (psychologically), and it is then faced with the prospect (not a real one, but a perceived prospect) of annihilation, like somebody is swinging a chopper at your head. If you stand in the way of the chopper it’s going to chop your head off and that’s the end of you. So some of these powerful psychological impacts present themselves in the psyche with that sort of message, that sort of certainty. Particularly in childhood, particularly in infancy when the mind has not developed the capacity to reason, particularly when we talk about the preverbal level of our development. The mind hasn’t yet worked out that certain things have certain consequences or don’t.
So when we receive traumatic experiences, the message that the psyche gives itself is “This is going to destroy me. This is going to annihilate me”. Often we think of trauma as just one single, sudden event, but a lot of trauma isn’t of that nature. A lot of trauma is the result of exposure to a successive form of behaviour from somebody else. A classical one is a child who isn’t adequately loved by a parent, or both parents. It isn’t as though there’s one massive act of not loving, there could just be a continual sense that mother or father or both are “not there for me”. Now the parents may love, but they may not be showing the love or they may not be showing it adequately, so this infant mind has this ongoing sense of not getting what it needs, and this may create as much trauma as baby bashing. But of course, the overall effect will be different, and the way of dealing with it will be different.
This trauma can be received in a variety of ways. What happens when there is trauma, basically the mind says: “This is not happening”. And it’s extremely important to understand this, because this introduces us to the psychological term “denial”. The mind says “this is not happening”. Now, logically, we can’t understand this. If I’m sitting here and somebody arrives in the door and points a gun at me and I say “this is not happening”, I know it is happening, but at a psychological level, particularly at infancy, the psyche, when it goes into a traumatic response thinks this with such conviction that at the level of the psyche and the subliminal, it does not happen, and the mechanism that makes this possible is that the entire event or situation or series of events is encapsulated in the energy of denial and pushed into the unconscious, pushed out of consciousness. And sometimes when there’s an extreme case of this you can see this in the person’s eyes. There’s a sort of glazed look. You can look at them and realise they are not in touch with what is happening, they’re not in touch. In a certain sense you can ay “they’re not there”. Have you ever seen that with people?
So the power of denial is complete, and what is so fascinating is that it is so powerful that in a certain sense it is true to say that the person does not experience the experience. A time-warp is created, where the person encapsulates the experience and it’s pushed into the unconscious and there it stays, inexperienced. And this is why very often when people access trauma through lets say analysis or some form of therapy and catharsis takes place, when an old experience is brought into consciousness. So I may have been traumatised when I was one year old, and I’m now 90 and I have a cathartic experience I will be the one year old. The voice will change, the mannerisms will change. They will become the voice of the one year old. And more interestingly, in that catharsis I will be where I was at one. I will have a total recall of the place, the room, the sky, the window, the person standing there. I will have a total recall of the smell, the sounds around. Everything will be there. So it’s completely encapsulated and held in the unconscious.
So this process of denial produces what we call repression. Repression is characterised by total not knowing. Let’s take a very simple thing – “I was baby bashed at the age of two, went into denial, the memory was repressed and I get on with life. I have no memory of the experience at all.” This is characteristic of this level of trauma, this level of denial and repression, so there’s no knowledge of it.
So that’s all very well, it enables the conscious mind to get on and function; but all is not well, because repressed material doesn’t lie dormant. It remains active, and it sends out pulses into the psyche and the nervous system all the time. It never stops. And as Janov says, it sets off reverberating pain circuits, so you get this inexplicable movement of pain into consciousness, and this is the root, this is where we begin getting our definition of neuroses.
Jung says “every neuroses is a substitute for legitimate suffering.” So, straight away what we see is the material that was repressed send out its pain messages, i.e. it sends out the suffering. Now this is very interesting: as it sends out the suffering, what it’s doing is, it’s saying to consciousness, “All is not well. If you listen to, me, and – most of all – if you feel me, we will heal.” (And I want to move onto that just now); but consciousness is a control freak and consciousness is convinced that it can manage the situation and control it according to its likes and dislikes, and what consciousness says is “I don’t want to feel pain, I don’t want to experience suffering” so it blocks it. So we’ve got a double thing now. There was the original denial and suppression (number one. Then (number two) the reverberating suppression comes into play and consciousness once again denies that. Do you see that? So this is where we get Jung’s comment: “Neuroses is a substitute for legitimate suffering”.
What we do is we devise all sorts of forms of other behaviour to deal with the suffering, the pain. And this is why so often neurotic behaviour is symbolic. We do things that have no relation to the external world, but which are a response to this inner force, which might not make sense in the rational world, but which is an instinctive response by consciousness to try and deal with this pain. So it sets up substitute behaviour.
Then we get the clinical definition of neuroses. Neuroses is a subjective feeling of suffering which is incapacitating. This is the characteristic of full-on neurosis. So this is why I could become agorophobic, my suffering might be so great that I project it onto the idea that going outside will be so bad. That is to say it contains repression, denial and so on, but this we now already know. Then Cornell says a very interesting thing, he then moves on to include in this whole area of depression. Do you know that a study showed in America that over 85 % of people were shown to be clinically depressed? “Depression lasts as long as ego clings to pretensions of absolute control and avoids coming to terms with its inner partner” – he’s talking about inner complexes.
So as long as this idea of being able to control it all is there, we are in line for depression. So this then helps us understand why we are the way we are, and why most of us have some or other degree of neuroses, and what we can see is the key mechanisms are denial and repression. The denial and the repression are initially experienced as absolute blocks. Absolute in the sense that we can’t access them. The avenue of access is the pain and if we want to start integrating neuroses we start by allowing ourselves to accept and experience the pain. This then brings us to the next important issue which is healing and integration. (And this, of course, is the field of psychology: healing and integration.)
There’s a very simple principle – the situation can be healed through integration. Now, where the traumatic material remains repressed, the psyche is fragmented. Its energy system is fragmented for two reasons. One – the energy of that experience is locked into the unconscious. Number Two – a lot of energy is required to keep it down. So if you want to take the image of a government. You’ve got a government in power with a strong revolutionary force secretly operating. And, therefore, the government has to develop an increasingly large secret service to combat it, and hold it under control, otherwise it fears being overthrown. So neuroses saps the energy.
And that is why a lot of neurotic people experience loss of energy – psychological energy, not physical energy necessarily. (Physically, their energy will be very nervous and driven.) So the healing is the integration. Now how does integration work? The principle is very simple. Doing it is very difficult. The principle is to allow everything back into consciousness. But that’s the last thing the conscious mind wants to do. So, therefore, we need somehow to prepare consciousness, and we prepare consciousness in two ways – first of all, making it aware of how the whole thing came about in the first place. So we become aware of repression (number one). Number two: we become aware of the pain. We start to acknowledge – yes, there is pain, there is suffering. And even this stage is difficult, because often we’ve surrounded the whole thing with all sorts of secondary complex psychological mechanisms which confuse the field enormously.
We might surround it with guilt, all sorts of symbolic substitutes. We might feel that we’re greatly evil, that we’ve been condemned or damned to hell and that we should never go near this area – many secondary responses that add onto this underlying situation. So we get a tangled web of psychological and emotional confusion that make it very difficult for people to approach the fact that they are in pain. That’s the bottom line – in pain and suffering.
So, that’s the first step, to prepare the conscious mind to accept the reality of the situation. The reality of the situation is – being in pain and suffering. It’s as simple as that. The third aspect of the situation is “in pain and suffering and don’t want to be in pain. Don’t want to suffer. Damnit why should I? I’m after all the supreme control freak. I’m in charge. I say ‘I’ll not suffer’.” You can do that. That’s the psychopath – “I will not suffer”. How do I achieve that? I totally sever all emotionality. It’s a very logical thing to do. Emotion leads to suffering – no more emotion. Huge steel box. Put it all there and lock it. Then you’ve got a psychopath who can no longer feel. But we’re not there, we’re just ordinary neurotics.
So we acknowledge the pain, we acknowledge the suffering, and we acknowledge we don’t want to feel it. Now “don’t want to feel it” is the screaming two year old, and that’s where we start working. We start retraining the two year old, saying first of all, “Pain is alright. It’s not going to destroy or annihilate you”. Because that’s the first fear, that if I allow or acknowledge the fear and pain to come into consciousness, I will be destroyed. So the first thing is “No, you won’t be destroyed.” And that’s a rational response. And this then deals with the fear which characteristically attends neurosis. Most people won’t go there because they fear the pain, and they think it will destroy them. So we come to terms with that first. Pain is alright. It’s not wrong, It’s not bad. It won’t annihilate you.
So you can reason with yourself a little bit in this area, you can say “If it wanted to destroy me, or if it was capable of destroying me, would it not have done so by now?” And the answer should be “Yes, it would have done so by now”. So perhaps it doesn’t want to destroy me, or perhaps it’s not capable of destroying me. Or perhaps both? After all, it’s me. Not somebody else, it’s me.
It’s interesting, only once has this line of reasoning not worked and that was with an Irish woman. The Irish are so intelligent it’s breath-taking. She was having this problem and I said to her, “Well, if the pain could destroy you, wouldn’t it have done so by now?” And straight away she said in this charming Irish accent “Ah – but maybe it’s waiting”. And I had no answer to that one……
Anyway, so to some degree we can reason with ourselves in this area, where slowly we bring ourselves to the point where we realise that we do not have to fear ourselves. Then we take the next step which is learning to accept and allow that situation to be completely. And this is what this course, this retreat is all about. So slowly now you’ll be getting a better and better picture of why this accepting and allowing is so important. Because when we reach that point of accepting and allowing, the defensive barriers which are holding the pain in place can start relaxing. Consciousness stops feeding energy into maintaining this secret service. And then, little by little, repressed material is permitted back into consciousness so that the process of healing and integration can start taking place in its own way in its own time. And this is then where huge change begins to come about, within the psyche. This is healing, this is growth, this is maturation: all those things.
Now, while the material is locked in the unconscious and is playing on the consciousness from that point, the mind is distorted. It is not able to function normally. It may be able to function normally intellectually, but it is not able to function helpfully emotionally, and the emotions are connected to that deeper part of ourselves that connects with the area where we grow spiritually. So, effectively, the neurotic condition obstructs spiritual growth, and it becomes directly an issue when we meditate, because when we try to settle the mind, the underlying, unresolved repressed material will immediately recognise a chance to come into consciousness, so you will have intimations of it coming into consciousness. And instead of having experiences described in the books we will experience neurotic conditions. And this is what bewilders so many people who start trying to meditate, because so many people come to meditation because they’re neurotic, because they have unresolved material, and they think “Ah, meditation will be the ultimate aspirin, it’ll fix it all”.
This is what everybody who doesn’t know about meditation thinks. They all think that if you meditate you sit and bliss out for hours and hours on end. They all think that. And a lot of the books support this. On the front, there’s always a person sitting who looks very peaceful and happy; usually dressed in white or luminous clothes, usually young and beautiful. And you look at the book and think “I want that. That’s what I want to be. Gimme.” So you rush off and meditate and the very opposite happens, and this is exactly why. So starting immediately at a psychological level, we can see why acceptance is such a crucial issue in our practise.
Then there’s another area I want to mention now because tomorrow and the next few nights I want to go into it in detail. There’s an even more interesting thing that happens. In life we have our preferences. That is, we want to experience the nice, we don’t want to experience the “not nice”, but there’s another area and that is my control freak conscious mind wants to be “nice”. It wants to be squeaky clean, so it’s got the message from society basically the message is: “Mummy and daddy and everybody else will only love you, and you’ll only be accepted if you’re always good, if you’re always polite, always smiling, always saying ‘I’m fine’. Always have your hair properly combed, always properly dressed. Never fart.” So this message is there. That is how I am acceptable. But the embarrassing thing it, I do experience things that don’t fit this picture. For example, I experience anger and jealousy and all the things we’ve been revealing in our reflecting. So what am I going to do with this? Don’t tell your mum, don’t tell anybody, most of all, don’t tell yourself.
So we start pushing things down again. Now, this isn’t trauma. This is a whole new other dimension. We start pushing things down and this starts creating a new entity within the unconscious which we call The Shadow. And this is the marvel. The average child does not have a shadow, The average adult has a shadow. And the more fundamentalist we are, the bigger the shadow. The more rigid, judgemental, authoritarian we are, the bigger the shadow.
Well it becomes the dark side. No, not super ego – the shadow is a complex. It’s created through repeated acts of denial and rejection of my unwanted characters, emotions, everything. And it gathers force and power and momentum in the psyche and becomes an even bigger obstacle to spiritual growth, because it grows and impacts on consciousness, just like any other repressed material. And I start to develop a sense of a hostile entity constantly following me, coming at me from outside. But it’s nothing like that, it’s just a product of my refusal to accept all the things about myself that I don’t like, and the things about myself that are very positive that I don’t feel equal to, so the shadow has a positive and a negative aspect, this is the fascinating thing about it.
Yes, many Christians have it. All fundamentalists have that. They’re a very easy case study. I mean, anyone with fundamentalist mentality. Buddhists as well.
So, this is what we bring to the party. Well, it’s part of what we bring to the party, and what we see more and more is it all depends upon non-acceptance. So the key that locked the door is “Refusal to accept”, and the key that will unlock the door is acceptance. But of course it’s not easy because the non-acceptance has permeated down and become conditioned reflex and in order to reverse the process of denial repression and suppression, we need to start where we can, with the pain, with the things we don’t like, with the feelings we don’t want, at an immediate level, and start seeing at a moment to moment level – those are the things we just push out of consciousness without quite realising we’re doing it. And slowly, as we do that we come more and more into consciousness…it goes deeper and so we’re able to expose increasingly our patterns of non-acceptance. And always there will be fear with it.
And so we learn to live with fear. We have anyway. We’ve lived with fear anyway, but now we let it into the open, understanding that by letting it into the open it’s not going to rage, run rampant with us and destroy us. But this is the preliminary of entering into negotiations. Then the healing can commence. It’s terribly simple, isn’t it?
People with a huge amount of unresolved material would usually not come into meditation. This is why they would go into something more like a very rigid belief system, something like fundamentalism which encourages and supports projection of everything onto something external, so you don’t have to look within. You know the worst thing you can say to a fundamentalist is “Look at yourself”, you know at the fundamentalist mentality, because their whole survival is dependent upon blaming everybody else. They’ve always got to have an enemy.
As this material is integrated and permitted into consciousness, we get a double return of energy. First of all, the repressed material – particularly in the shadow – has within itself colossal energy that we need. So that comes into conscious, so we become stronger with that. The revolutionary army joins the government. Then the energy we use to hold it in suppression also becomes available, so we can disband a whole lot of secret service, so that energy also becomes available.
The shadow is all the things about myself I don’t want to have – positive and negative. Shadow isn’t part of the repression of the first thing I talked about, which is trauma and all that stuff. Classically they look at the shadow as being the product of a different psychological process. I’ve talked about two clearly defined stages – first repression, and denial and neurosis. So that’s one issue. Shadow is a totally different story. So we’ll go into it in detail, but it’s not the same as repressed trauma, for example. But make no mistake it builds up into something enormous in some minds.
The subliminal is the meeting point, it’s the interface and the meeting point. My understanding of it is it doesn’t perform an intelligent function, it’s just a stratum that makes certain things possible, like a gearbox. It’s got mechanisms, and the mechanisms are activated in relation to consciousness, and also in relation to external stimuli. It’s the interface between conscious and unconscious.
It’s this old thing of can we compare terminologies. Let’s use “subliminal” in the world of psychology. Let’s use “observer” in the world of meditation. “Observer” and “undercurrent” go together. “Subliminal” and “conscious” mind go together. There might be a correlation, but that’s as far as we can go. The shadow will impinge upon the observer. It’s one of the forces that the observer will experience coming upon it.
A mind that totally accepts everything would not develop a shadow.
The repressed material will reverberate directly into the body because it plays upon the nervous system. There’s a lot of evidence to suggest connection between certain forms of repression and disease, even heart attack can be associated with mind states. People die of shock or they die of fury, they die of rage. Everything, of course is very intricately interrelated, no doubt. It looks as though that’s happening in the west, the neurotic forces are growing stronger. And this is particularly evident with parenting. So each generation of children that’s further away from healthy parenting would manifest great neuroses, greater disintegration of healthy forces socially and within the family.
Interestingly, Tai Sittupa said in the West we are losing our family lineages, so families no longer pass on healthy ways to their children, so their children grow up dysfunctional, which is a further neuroses, more and more into society. So it looks as thought the deterioration gains momentum from generation to generation at the moment. There are a lot of other factors as well, there’s rampant greed and destructiveness along with it. We’re a great bunch, aren’t we? Staggering figure of Americans on Prozac and Ritalin, hyperactive children. More Prozac is sold in the world than SA’s entire GDP. What a marvellous time we live in.
Repressed material comes up through the nervous system, so if you close down more and more areas of the nervous system you’re cut off more. I mean that’s all these drugs do, isn’t it? It’s this quote from Cornell – “Depression lasts as long as the ego clings to ideas of control.” So all these drugs cling to the idea that we can control.
But all these drugs do is anesthetise us, that we further don’t feel the pain. Give me something to stop feeling the pain. And it’s a progression of the Woody Allen syndrome: “Give me a lifestyle that doesn’t require my participation.”
So, we accept the whole circus, and the important thing is – it’s all okay. It’s all completely okay. So we start correcting this message that’s in our mind. The neurotic mind is saying “It’s not okay”, and it sets up a cycle of convincing itself that it’s not okay. Then we start looking at it and start accepting that it’s okay to feel pain, it’s okay to suffer, doesn’t mean we wallow in it. We say “Little bit of pain, little bit of suffering. Little bit of pain, little bit of joy”. So when we reflect on these terrible things that have happened to us and all the fear and pain associated with them and the idea that we will be destroyed if we allow any of it into consciousness, we realise that this is simply not true. Lama Yeshe Rinpoche made a lovely comment once. He said, “It may have been true then, but it’s not true now.”