Don’t Be Personal

D

The world operates under laws, or at least that’s the way it seems to us. These laws are inviolable and form the framework for a mostly ordered universe. The laws of physics are perhaps the best example and the most fully developed. Release an object from your grasp, and it will fall to the ground every time – no exceptions unless it happens to be a hydrogen-filled balloon. Energy exchange always results in greater entropy (disorder) – every time. Hydrogen and oxygen are all that is needed to create water – and so on. These laws are impersonal and take no account of sentience. A high-velocity round impacting a person’s head will kill or maim – every time.


When it comes to our psychology, the laws are less easily identified, but we can say with some certainty that all creatures move toward pleasure and away from pain, and that we all strive to maintain our existence. There are exceptions (like the balloon that floats upward), but even the exceptions will operate under the laws. So if a person is denied pleasure or finds themself experiencing pain, they will experience a so-called negative emotion – every time. Even indirectly, if existence is threatened, a person will similarly experience emotional pain – fear, anxiety, anger. These laws operate quite impersonally, although it doesn’t feel like it’s impersonal for the person subjected to them.


Even our thought process proceeds according to laws – cause and effect is the best example. We find it almost impossible to think of an event that did not have some preceding reason – every time. There are also the laws of thought and logic that determine how our thought processes will proceed. For example, we find it impossible to think that 1+1=2 and 1+1=3 without some sense of contradiction.


Our external and internal worlds operate under impersonal laws, and yet we take it all so personally. This identification with phenomena and events without an impartial consideration of the rules that drive them causes so much misery – we handle it all so personally. The way out of this massive identification is to understand the laws that affect as best we can and observe them in operation – both within and externally. In this way, we can develop a level of impartiality even to our thoughts, desires, perceptions, and emotions. There is nothing personal in the universe, so don’t take it personally.

By MB

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All is nothingness in the world, including my despair, which any man who is wise but also calmer, and I myself certainly at a quieter time, will see as vain, irrational, and imaginary. Wretched me! Even this pain of mine is vain, nothing. - Leopardi

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