Entries in resentments (1)


Lojong 47) Use resentments as a reminder, not an obstacle.

7. Guidelines (37-57)

47) Use resentments as a reminder, not an obstacle.

(Meditate on that which provokes resentment.)

In a previous version of this Lojong saying, I had these two statements reversed. I liked the shock and paradox of the second statement, but without some additional explanation, I think it could be misunderstood (and if so, possibly cause harm), especially as a Twitter message. The first statement captures the essence of the saying, but does not give much hint as to how this can be done.

Resentments are typically based on judgments

(Skip this unless you like pedantic over analysis). Internal psychological events can take several forms; two that are frequently recognized are thoughts and feelings. Thoughts can be categorized lots of different ways. We all deal with several different sorts each day. I believe some of my thoughts are an attempt on my part to merely describe an accurate representation of my past, current, or possible future context. If these thoughts are an approximation to an accurate representation, they probably consist of simple and straight descriptions of environmental factors and contingencies. To the extent that these thoughts get complicated, they are probably slipping into inaccurate cognitive fusions and other distortions. Resentments are a distortion that I usually class as a judgment. Judgments are distorted thoughts in which I typically over-generalize to create an interrelated set of characterizations about another person, organization, or similar system, so that I make statements about or treat the other based on these characterizations rather than on an accurate representation.

I have some judgments that serve an adaptive strategy. In fact, we all form judgments because it is a quick way to inform decisions that need to be made in a hurry. These we often call “snap judgments”. Judgments are not necessarily a bad thing. If you are successful at developing accurate representations of your environment(s), you will form better judgments.

The key to dealing with judgments is to become aware of them when they are occurring, perhaps using the technique described in Lojong #42. As I am able to become aware of the arising of these thoughts, I can recognize them for what they are. When I can recognize that a thought is a judgment then I can “own” it. By “own it”, I mean that I recognize it is not a simple representation of reality; it is a judgment.. Then I can meditate on it to understand where it comes from, why I developed this judgment, and perhaps rationally decide what I should do about it.

I prefer my meditation practice when I simply settle into pure awareness, but it is possible to meditate on thoughts and feelings. I can become mindful of these to recognize when they arise and choose to contemplate them or let them fall away. If I contemplate a thought, (judgment) or feeling, I maintain the detached position characterized by “stepping back” “to look at” it. Perhaps I will use techniques from Focusing by Eugene Gendlin, PhD. As I contemplate, I may ask, “Have I experienced this before?” “What was that situation?” “Can I describe this feeling with a word or words?” , etc.

When I become aware I am holding a resentment (or a negative judgment), this is a great opportunity to discover areas of my own distorted thinking. If you are “thinking” that most of your judgments are valid, and you have had experiences that justify your resentments; you have a wonderful opportunity for personal growth. I hope you will have success in meditations on these that allow you to release them, so you will have more opportunity to settle in pure awareness and in mindfulness in daily life.

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