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In every system, there are lynchpins … points holding the system together. On the path of spiritual development, we discover these lynchpins as we uncover the attachments which keep us acting out our habitual patterns. As we explore the inner reaches of our mind, we find the ways we perpetuate our own misery. When we stumble upon a lynchpin, a whole series of behaviors and beliefs are exposed for what they are: a trap keeping us stuck in suffering.

Once we see the pattern clearly, we become motivated to change, to open to a new way of being. Sometimes this shift is instantaneous. Most of the time, we need to see where we are stuck many times and from all different angles. The ego is an expert in denial.

The first egoic reaction is one of blame. We want to know who is causing our misery and change them. In this phase, many spiritual seekers become lost trying to change the world. They put their practice on hold and instead dig into other people’s behavior. The running theme is: “if only everyone could see it how I do, the world would be a better place.” Some have gone as far to enact laws – or even go to war – to force others to confirm to their idea of what is right and protect their habitual patterns. We’ve all watched this never-ending blame game play out, both in our own minds and on the world stage.

Blame often shifts to oneself, which we call guilt. It is the same mechanism of seeking someone to be at fault for the suffering. And it does nothing to address the underlying cause. Both as an individual and at a societal level, we bounce between blame and guilt. We see it in issues ranging from obesity to drug abuse to sexual assault to abortion to homelessness to racism and beyond. We spin round and round, seeking anywhere to place the blame. When we find none that can truly own the blame, we say it’s the system, or we internalize and feel guilty for perpetuating not only our suffering, but the suffering of all beings.

If we can stop and look, really deeply look at where we are, we’ll see the attachments keeping us spinning. As we examine the attachments, we’ll begin to see the patterns. And if we can stay open – yes it’s painful to look which is why so many look away and dive back into the blame game – we’ll start to see the lynchpins with the potential to unlock entire sections of the systems of beliefs at the root of our suffering.

During the past month, the latest Supreme Court Justice was questioned and confirmed. As his political beliefs were exposed and different allegations were made, it brought up deep layers of suffering for many women.

I watched as the people of our country became absorbed in anger and frustration. I felt the heaviness and sorrow. I felt the women who need to be heard and trusted. I felt the fear of the possibility that women would be heard and trusted. I felt the frustration of control slipping from everyone’s hands. I felt the annoyance of those who wanted the process to end so life could go back to the status quo. I felt the apathy of those who don’t care because they think none of it affects them.

As I felt the collective consciousness of our country fighting for freedom, I saw a lynchpin. I witnessed this lynchpin in each individual and echoed in our society. Like a spider web, I saw the threads of belief systems stretching in opposite views held together by this one pattern, this one lynchpin: Mistrust.

I see person after person after person lost in mistrust. They cannot trust others because they do not trust themselves. This lack of self-trust spirals out into the attempt to control every component of life. We try to control every situation, every emotion, and every person we encounter. We run ourselves ragged and fight to hold onto to the tiny bit of control we think we have – all because we are afraid to trust.

If we learned to trust ourselves, we could extend that trust to others. We would not have laws restricting abortion because we would trust women to do what is right for them. We would prosecute and punish sexual assault because we would know a woman can be trusted as much a man. We would help the homeless instead of guarding our money in fear of them stealing it. We would talk to people of races different than our own and learn about each other. We would face our sense of isolation instead of seeking escape through drugs. We would listen to our bodies and know what to eat and when to exercise.

However, we cannot force someone, not even ourselves, to trust.

What we can do is begin with our own mind. We can take tiny steps towards building self-trust. It begins with listening, with being mindful of the thoughts and feelings arising within us. Not just hearing, but actually listening and noticing where these thoughts and feelings come from, and how they change. Our self-trust will build and recede as we take bolder steps. We’ll fall for our attachments and get sucked into our fears, make mistakes, and suffer when we do.

If we can stop ourselves from indulging in the blame game and resist trying to control others, we can start again. Listening. Acting on what we feel is the best option in that moment without second guessing ourselves. Waiting patiently when we cannot decide because we do not have all the information and researching or asking questions to get what we need. During this process, we move from a state of ignorance to one of awareness. We can learn to trust, from the inside out.

And when we do, life is miraculous. All the details fall together at the perfect moment. We recognize life as it truly is: a magical display of Light.



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Published inBuddha Lessons / Mindfulness