Mindfulness Theories & Practices #15: We All Cling & Get Bitter

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.” (Presidential Candidate Barack Obama, April 2008)

One of the excellent teaching from the Wisdom Traditions is that: We all “cling.” We all get “bitter.”  “Clinging” locks us in a position and solidifies our thinking. It hardens our views, narrows our lens, and distorts our vision. According to these teachings, “clinging” is the cause of suffering because what we “cling to” will eventually change. So too will our relationship to it. At the moment when “shift happens,” we become disorientated and disillusioned.

During a meditation practice, we get these “moments of insight.” We see the “hidden” that has been before us in plain sight. We get these “glimpses” of our “clinging” and its sources. At these moments of “absolute recoil,” the “unseen” becomes “seen,” and they become moments of true freedom of choice: Moments where we can choose to continue to “hold on” or to “let go;” to be “bitter” or “to be kind;” to express “antipathy” or extend “compassion.” We can “cling,” or we can “de-cling.”

When “shift happens,” the paradoxical nature of our existence simultaneously unfolds: We will have to de-cling “time and time again.” So long as the world evolves, and time and history unfold, we will have to continually be letting go of the “once reassuring” that has become the “now discomforting.”

Cling/De-Cling — the yin and yang of our existence.

What do you “cling to?” How do you “let go?” How do you “release the old” and “embrace the “new?”

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