Adyashanti is an American Buddhist spiritual teacher who, like Pema Chödrön, is remarkable for bridging the gap between Eastern spirituality and the Western mind. One of the things that struck me in this book was his description of the three ways we can fall into what he calls the "vortex" of suffering:
1. The illusion of control
2. Demanding that things be different
3. Arguing with what is.
When I read this, my first thought was that these were actually all the same thing: the unending campaign of the ego to dictate how life "should" go. As I tried to apply them to my own life, I realized that there are really subtle differences between them - however, I would order them like this:
1. I argue with what is. I judge that a certain person/circumstance/situation is "wrong" or shouldn't be happening. For example, I wish that I wasn't single.
2. I demand that things be different. I insist that, in order for me to be happy, my life or other people must change in some way. In this case, life must supply me with a relationship that meets my expectations and desires.
3. I try to control people and circumstances so that I will get what I want (and think I need) to be happy. This attempt to control life can take any number of forms, including thoughts, words and deeds. It's basically an obsession with the illusion that we can make things happen the way we want them to, if we just say or do or even think the right things.
This is a model for awareness that can be applied any time you find yourself suffering. First, what are you arguing with? What "shouldn't" be happening? Next, what are the conditions you are demanding in order to be happy? And, finally, how are you trying to control people and situations in order to get the results you desire?