Seeds of Doubt
“We do not see things as they are, we see things as we are.” – Anais Nin
In Buddhism, there are the five hindrances most yogis come across in their practice. The five hindrances include greed, aversion, torpor, restlessness, and doubt. I have experienced them all throughout my spiritual journey.
Doubt can be one of the trickiest hindrances to work with. You second-guess everything and become skeptical about why you are on this path. Doubt becomes the most predominant during meditation retreats. You question why you choose to spend your hard earned cash to meditate all day, walk around resembling a zombie, in total silence and instructed not to use your cell phone/read/write/or look another person in the eyes instead of relaxing at the beach? This doubt is a real buzz kill to your practice.
It’s believed right before his death the Buddha stated, “All compounded things are impermanent.” Meaning, although you may perceive the world around you to be the same, in reality, the world is constantly in a state of flux.
Nothing is real but this moment, and that includes the good as well as the bad.
The more we can ride the waves of uncertainty and change – the “happier” we will be.
However, happiness is never the goal in Buddhism. The pursuit of happiness is embedded in American culture. There are countless self-help books, workshops, and products that aim to guarantee your happiness. In Buddhism happiness is synonymous with peacefulness.
The goal is not necessarily to be happy (because again, happiness is fleeting) but to obtain peace.
The conveyer belt to a peaceful vibe is equanimity.
Equanimity can ebb and flow but is foundational on your path to ultimate freedom and peace. The equanimous person deals with life’s up and downs like a ninja – fully equipped to handle whatever life hands them. Equanimity is about calm and composure. You get there by understanding that the human experience is meant to be full of joy and suffering. That way when the suffering arrives, you meet it like an old friend realizing that you will once again part ways.
I recently came across a full-blown doubt attack. I questioned a close friendship and denied my hurt feelings. I told myself I was being too sensitive and that this sensitivity was the reason I was sad, not because my friend was hurting my feelings. I doubted my intuition, I doubted my sensitivity, I doubted myself.
My only salvation was being aware of the doubt.
I watched the mind try to rationalize my friend’s behavior to prolong the hard conversation and continue to stick my nose in the sand.
Without this awareness of my own self-doubt, I could have gone far too long with accepting unacceptable behavior. I was in no rush to fix anything and realized that when the time was right, the next move would present itself. I also processed – a lot – with a trusted friend who provided a supportive sounding board. All in all, I was confused and doubting myself before I had gathered enough evidence to tell my doubt to piss off.
The Buddha would not have mentioned doubt if it were not incredibly common for the human experience. I believe we are all trained from a very young age to doubt ourselves. Boys are told to doubt their feelings of sadness and told instead “suck it up.” Girls are told to doubt their worth and to reach outside of themselves to gain it back. Once you are aware that doubt has snuck in, allow it to run its course – because remember, all things are impermanent and you are equanimous.