Aversion is our natural inclination to avoid things we do not feel are satisfying -this is why people resist eating green vegetables or studying. We also feel an inner resistance to people and situations we are not comfortable with.
This is caused by having attachments to people behaving in the way we want or life unfolding in the way we would like. Often it is not the external environment that makes us unhappy but rather our expectations.
A Zen story talks about a warrior being wounded by two arrows on the battlefield.
The first arrow came from an enemy but was not fatal. This was the physical pain. However, the warrior’s reaction to the arrow was to tense up, lose hope and feel he was grievously wounded.
The warrior’s mental pain came from the warrior himself and was the second arrow to strike him. The second arrow led to prolonged suffering.
So, the next time, your studying feels fruitless or you encounter a challenging situation at work, remember that is simply the first arrow. You cannot control life. Do not compound the situation by feeling irritated or frustrated. Just accept the situation as temporary and remember tomorrow is a brand-new day. So many people allow things beyond their control to affect their mood. The weather, careless driving or a cross word from a family member.
One of the challenges you have to overcome when studying is boredom. Most of the time we want to be constantly stimulated which is why Netflix is so addictive. You have barely finished watching one show and they then recommend another and it automatically starts.
You must train your mind to treat learning as fun. If you can persevere until you break through the wall and it all makes sense to you, you will find it tremendously rewarding.
Several years ago, I was travelling with the ACCA on a ‘Train The Trainer’ programme in the Caribbean. The planes used to fly to interconnecting islands are very small and cramped. A lady got on that had a young baby and a little toddler and sat next to me. The baby immediately started crying and this upset the two-year-old toddler. In desperation, the mother started apologising to everyone on the plane as people were getting irritated by the noise and started complaining to the flight attendents.
I decided to put down my book and smiled reaching out to the toddler. To my surprise, she left her mother and decided to sit with me throughout the entire journey. When we arrived in Trinidad, the little girl wanted to stay with me to her parent’s shock. Both the parents thanked me profusely. Instead of being irritated, the affection from the toddler made me feel content and this turned out to be one of my best memories from the trip
As Herman Hesse said’ Love your suffering. Do not flee from it. It is your aversion that hurts, nothing else.