accept the lies of cynical politicians in the case of anger; that it was rooted in the intensity of passion for a lost loved one, in the case of romantic attachment.This sense of the rightness, the basic virtuousness, of some forms of unhappiness, sets up akind of psychological "force field" protecting the unhappy mind we don’t fully
to be freeof suffering because we believe it has real merit.The interesting thing about the Buddhist analysis is that it punctures this righteously miserablebubble, countering the self-pitying mind with a very blunt statement: Suffering is
,ultimately, rooted in an excess of self-concern.Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, for example, comments: “Self-cherishing makes us feel depressed whenever our wishes are notfulfilled, we fail in our ambitions, or our life does not turn out the way weplanned. If we examine all the times we have been miserable we shalldiscover that they are characterised by an excessive concern for ourown welfare.” (Gyatso, Eight Steps To Happiness, Tharpa, 2000, p.86)This is like a salutary bucket of cold water in the face of our self-pity: we are not unhappy simplybecause the world is unjust, not just because terrible things have happened to us, but becausewe suffer from an excessive concern for our own welfare.
The Art Of Upsetting Yourself
If we are able to perceive the basic truth of this point, it can help us break the closed circle of the self-pitying mind allowing us to emerge from suffering.When someone insults us, for example, we feel we are right and justified in feeling upsetbecause, after all, the other person has been abusive. We say things like: ‘She upset me.’ Butwriting some 1,000 years ago, the philosopher Aryadeva makes an interesting point: “Though hearing harsh words is unpleasant, they are
intrinsicallyharmful, otherwise the speaker would also be harmed. Thus, when thedamage done by anger comes from one’s own preconception that onehas been insulted, it is just fantasy to suppose it comes from elsewhere.When one’s own ideas have done the harm, it is unreasonable to be