Facing the Untidy Mind Places

“Attempts at eliminating the mind’s main defilements — greed, hate and delusion — must fail as long as these defilements find refuge and support in the uncontrolled dim regions of the mind; as long as the close and complex tissue of those half-articulate thoughts and emotions forms the basic texture of mind into which just a few golden strands of noble and lucid thought are woven. But how are we to deal with that unwieldy, tangled mass? Usually we try to ignore it and to rely on the counteracting energies of our surface mind. But the only safe remedy is to face it — with mindfulness.” The Power of Mindfulness: An Inquiry into the Scope of Bare Attention and the Principal Sources of its Strength by Nyanaponika Thera

Facing the unpleasant is the only way to go. Let me give a recent example.

The other day, we got something in the mail from the Social Security Administration (SSA). Barry is on Disability, so I take anything they send us seriously.

I open it and the paper says that $661 has been applied to the amount owed them and now the amount owed them is $4994. I did not recall being overpaid by them. It would insinuate that they just pay us willy-nilly and only occasionally set their books right. I am depressed, but decide to go to the credit union to get them a money order. If they made an error, they will probably figure it out eventually and we will be repaid.

I drive to the credit union. I take a closer look before going in. Yup, the address is right. Wait. Who is DK? (I am using his initials.) The SSA needs to know that he does not live at our address. So I go there to resolve the issue. Of course, they weren’t open. How do I let them know? They sent an envelope for payment. I put their correspondence in that envelope, corrected (letting them know that the address is mine, not DK’s).

What if I had just said to myself, “Oh, I’m too overwhelmed to deal with this right now. I’ll just put it aside,”? I would have worried what it said. And we would probably start getting DK’s SSA mail regularly. DK’s credit might get ruined because of the assumption that he was receiving the mail and he was choosing to do nothing.

Things are not necessarily totally resolved. After all, why does the SSA think DK lives at our address that we’ve lived at for over a decade? But I’ve handled the responsibility as best I can, expeditiously and drama-free.


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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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