Insecurity, the Root of All Evil

buddhism confidence evil insecurity

A short post, tracing the development of an idea.

I've been struggling a lot with patience lately. Patience for myself and for others.

I'm normally a really patient person, so I've been trying to figure out why I've been feeling so impatient lately. If I look at the way things have been going, I'd have to say that the biggest change is a constant sense of insecurity regarding my financial life. I think this has translated to a sense of imminent doom that has made it more difficult to trust that things will be okay in time, which is where patience comes from.

Insecurity leads to...the Dark Side

I see insecurity as the root cause for a lot of negative character traits: hatred, anger, frustration, anxiety. To me, it also seems to be the root cause of many social ills. Insecure societies build up their militaries, oppress their 'destabilizing' minorities, constantly hunger for resources and land, leading to constant aggression against other societies. My theory is that, much as insecure individuals are always hoarding, posing, or unsatisfied with their current status, insecure civilizations are always seeking to get bigger, acquire more power, and dominate their neighbors.

This isn't to say confident people/nations don't do these things. Some artists and athletes are constantly seeking to grow and improve because they are secure in their purpose. I can't think of too many secure nations (there's reason to believe that only insecure social hierarchies actually become nation-states), but I'd lean towards Switzerland and the state of Tibet while it was independent. These countries still make progress and grow, but they go about it in a balanced, considered way. I would think that the progress they make is more likely to be sustainable and holistic, while that gained by insecure people/nations is destabilizing.

In Buddhism, this concept--that your inner state has an effect on the results of your efforts--is expressed in what's called Right Intent. Your reasons for doing something matter. Two people can accomplish the exact same action, but if one has the wrong intent, it will end badly for that person.

In my own life, I see this a lot mainly in my relationships. When I act from a place of security and confidence, the little gifts I like to give strengthen the relationship. However, if I'm feeling insecure in regards to the other person, the gifts tend to create a sense of obligation. I'm sure it has a lot to do with subtle signals I'm giving and the overall circumstances, but in each case, the action of seeking closeness has two very different effects.

The Stewardship of a Soul

And so I come to my final point: it seems that our energies should be directed towards minimizing our internal sense of insecurity. This is our spiritual responsibility to ourselves, the cultivation of healthy souls. Because, of course, whether you feel insecure or not has very little to do with your external circumstances. Rather, it arises from your perspective. One person may feel completely confident that they will be taken care of as long as they have enough food to eat, while another may feel terrified without many thousands of dollars in the bank.

It seems that this is the ultimate end of spiritual training: to cultivate a powerful and resilient sense of inner confidence, to weed out an individual's insecurities at their roots. Doing this empowers an individual to overcome any obstacle, internal or external, and confers a sense of peace.

Side note: Paralleling insecurity's role in disrupting our spiritual stability is inflammation's role in our physical health. Incidentally, there seems to be a tendency to seek out inflammatory foods--sugar being the primary culprit--when we feel insecure.

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