The Second in Our Series on Overcoming Avoidance as a Route to Clarity and Peace of Mind.
According to legend, the Buddha was born Siddharta Guatama, the son of a King in a palace in the foothills of the Himalayas. Like Oedipus his destiny had been foretold – that he would become either a powerful king or a holy man. Like parents throughout the ages, his parents opted for the safe job with plenty of status and so they devoted their lives to making sure he would become king by teaching him to love privilege. They made his life a luxurious prison, pampering him with finery and keeping him inside a world of ostentatious luxury where every whim was satisfied…
It was only at the age of 29 that he ventured outside where he saw what have become known in Buddhist lore as the ‘Four Sights’ – an old man, a sick man, a corpse and a wandering monk. The first three symbolized the inevitability of impermanance, and the three fates awaiting us all. Siddharta was shocked into abandoning his complacency and becoming the fourth sight, a wandering monk. It was some years later that he achieved enlightenment (waking up) after spending the night sitting beneath a tree. He became thereafter Buddha – the one who woke up – but it was the four initial sights that awoke his understanding of impermanence.
Thus Buddhism’s path to serenity began with a confrontation with the negative and the choice whether to avoid it and return to the palace of pleasures or to embrace it and walk through the world thus equipped, albeit with few luxuries & less delusions.
We can see that once again the path that produces serenity involves seeing reality in all its aspects and not running away. He who became Buddha literally stepped outside into the ‘No-go’ areas that his parents tried to shield him from – and there he found enlightenment.
We have discovered on our work on Creativity that No-Go areas are often the most fruitful places to find insight – partly because no-one has bothered to look there before!
What are your No-Go areas and how might you fare if you explored them? There are lots of safe and interesting ways of doing this…
*See Oliver Burkeman, The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking