The pressures that most commonly disturb us are usually environmental. The six pressures that make living difficult are:
- Bodily pressures, such as sickness, age, fear of accidents, and fear of death.
- Economic pressures, such as lack of training or credentials, unemployment, debt, disability, extravagance of self or family, unusual expenses, unexpected responsibilities, taxes, inflation, cost of adequate insurance, and the needs of children and other dependents.
- Social pressures, such as lack of true friends, loneliness, status seeking, the temptation to compromise standards, lack of constructive interests, and fear of society and its demands upon character.
- Emotional pressures, such as romantic difficulties, domestic problems, incompatibility, worries over children and other loved ones, fear of marriage or divorce, intemperance, infidelity, promiscuity, scandal, and emotional immaturity.
- Character pressures involving lack of self control, worry, vanity, hatred, jealousy, unreasonable ambition, stubbornness, cruelty, short sightedness, egotism, willfulness, and over-possessiveness.
- Spiritual pressures such as fear, lack of faith, or a feeling of internal insecurity. Other causes can be conflicts arising from religious confusion in society, the conflict of creeds, various depressing superstitions, and fanaticism.
All these external factors press in upon us through our sensory perceptions and are then coordinated by our mind; they begin to form a negative psychological syndrome, which in turn becomes pressure, which will then impel our future conduct. The constant flow of pressures into the individual often results in complexes, fixations and neuroses.
One of the mistakes that most people make is the belief that the aggressive conquest of environment is possible. Actually, it is not possible, because no human being can actually control environmental circumstances. Nobody can foresee or dominate the conduct of all other human beings.
The physical body is the receptacle of pressures. The human being, because we are pressure, has no adequate defense against pressure. The degree of self-control a person possesses reveals the degree that the will, conditioned by experience, has been able to reduce pressure. Thus life appears as an infinite variety of pressures setting up an infinite variety of demands, each requiring immediate gratification.
Heredity and environment now come into play. Both of these factors are merely pressures moving in upon us directly or indirectly from other people. As environment consists of many degrees and combinations of pressures and the consequences caused by these pressures, it provides valuable instruction. We must t decide whether we wish to profit by insight or continue to be the victim of our own ignorance.
Buddhism affirms that pressure is the torturer of life, the true cause of misery, madness and death. We can build all kinds of intellectual deceits. We can argue and excuse. We can draw pictures and develop formulas, but we cannot escape the simple fact that we must reduce the pressure or destroy ourselves.
Those long accustomed to think of pressure as a natural stimulant may have some trouble realizing that it is only a nerve whip. Nature provides pressure for certain emergencies, but life cannot and should not be one long emergency.
We all must recover from the delusion that pressure provides the energy necessary for accomplishment. We are not missiles, and life is not a problem trajectory. WE can achieve our goals without tension by having clear insight, trained ability and purposed planning. Pressure pushes us on to exhaustion, not to victory.
The most universal therapeutic agent available to us is nature itself. Color, form, sound, and design reveal universal motions and processes.
Evil can never impress good upon the soul, and we must remember that direct action makes the deepest and most lasting impressions.
Not by fighting tension but by cultivating relaxation we achieve the solution to the problem. It is conscious receptivity to the benevolence of the universal plan that helps to heal the sufferings caused by disordered thoughts and emotions.
Anything, which increases tension, also lowers self-control. Beauty does not increase tension, but deformity does. Violation of conscience creates pressure. Exposure to hatred or violence creates tension. Immoral, amoral art or psychotic music creates tension. That which is in itself not good cannot be a direct cause of good. When we try to overthrow evil by revulsive tension, we create situation, which will lead to further tension. The war inside us can never result in peace.
Tension is merely stress moving into manifestation. Anything, which apparently can be accomplished by tension, can be more safely accomplished by disciplined action without tension. To become tense is the quickest way to make our problems larger and ourselves smaller. A head on collision with tension seldom is the solution. It is usually wiser to direct our thoughts and feelings into more constructive channels and allow the tension to subside from lack of support.
Which brings us to the point that, if a we can be the victim of our environment, it becomes evident that environment can shape our destiny. If bad habits can destroy us, good habits could also then rescue us. A single wrong attitude strengthened by repetition can become a destructive negative force. Conversely a single right attitude given strength and repetition can create a powerful constructive psychological archetype.
If children can be led into delinquency by motion pictures, televisions, and improper books, it is foolish to say that they cannot be inspired by an improved level of entertainment and literature that leads to better character and normalized psychic patterns. But, since it is not likely at the moment that desirable reforms will occur in society, each individual must make the necessary constructive adjustments in their own way of life.
We should remember that the normal state of the body is health, and the normal state of the mind is sanity. The emotions find their fullest expression through love, friendship, and kindness. We must settle down to the serious labor of self- improvement if we want to change our reality. Health like happiness much be earned, and each person must earn their own happiness. Fortunately, we have been endowed with the means for our own perfection. Growth is a do-it-yourself project. Get to work!
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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