The Reactive Life is Unsatisfactory
the fourth of the Four Reminders
The aches and pains of the physical body, the grief of losing what one holds dear, old age, sickness and death — some things are unavoidable. But I create extra suffering for myself and others with craving, aversion, and delusion.
When I define my life by wealth, pleasure, praise, and reputation, then my happiness depends on circumstances and conditions.
Reactive emotions do not bring me happiness; they produce exactly what I am trying to avoid. Samsara, the life of reactivity, is a never-ending cycle through realms I am creating: Caught up in anger and aggression, I find myself in a realm of conflict. Consumed by grasping and neediness, I never seem to get what I want. Seeking security and comfort, I get stuck in the same old ways of doing things. Jumping from desire to desire, chasing possessions and pleasures, my desires are never satisfied for long, and my busyness is endless. Feeling inadequate, jealous and competitive, I’m compelled to accomplish more and more. Self-satisfied, trying to maintain my position, I’m blind to the inevitability of change.
The cycles of reactivity and suffering can be brought to an end. Our fundamental nature is goodness and awareness. A path of awakening and freedom has been developed and refined over many centuries of experience. I can place confidence in the teachers and practitioners of that path, and in my ability to travel it.