Self-Created Suffering

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche • 7 min read

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The creative monkey

Our monkey minds are endlessly creative, and one of their favorite things to create is a nice juicy problem. If you don’t happen to have a problem, your monkey mind is always more than happy to invent one for you. This is why most suffering is self-created. And, because it’s coming from the mind, self-created suffering can manifest in an unlimited number of ways.

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The yellow lenses

If you’re wearing eyeglasses with yellow-tinted lenses, everything you see in the world around you will appear to be some shade of yellow. This is more or less how self-created suffering works. For example, if you’re easily angered, you will tend to continually produce, perceive and construct a lot of “reality” according to that tendency. You hone in on others’ faults, believing that no one treats you well, that everyone else is in the wrong, until eventually you see the whole world as your enemy. If you have a habit of pride, you’ll see the people around you as useless or lazy compared to you.

If envy is your Achilles heel, you’ll view the world as a contest, a continual jockeying for the position of the one who has the most love, friends, fame, or resources. Such distorted views cause misunderstandings and conflicts between yourself and your family, friends, colleagues, coworkers, and society as a whole. And because they’re so common, they’re easily mistaken for reality. After all, you can always find commiseration for a negative view. Someone else is probably wearing those same yellow glasses and will reinforce your belief.

“Knowing there is suffering is the best way to liberate from suffering.”

– Mingyur Rinpoche –

Put down the hammer

When you’re under the spell of a negative outlook, it’s very easy to forget that it’s not reality. It is what is sometimes called “holding a hammer in your hand and beating yourself on the head.” Clonk! “Where did that come from?” Clonk! “Who is that? How dare they?” But actually, the source of the distress is coming from your own mind. You’re the one beating yourself over the head. The good news is, this means you also have the power to stop!

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About the Author

By Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

In his approach to teaching meditation, Mingyur Rinpoche integrates traditional Buddhist practice and philosophy with the current scientific understanding of the mind and mental health – making the practice of meditation relevant and accessible to students around the world. Mingyur Rinpoche is the author of the best-selling book The Joy of Living: Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness, as well as Joyful Wisdom: Embracing Change and Finding Freedom, In Love with the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying, and many others.

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