Grasping and Aversion

A baby’s life is dominated by grasping for its needs and shrinking from its fears. Childhood is a continuation of this journey. There is no morality here; it is simply the nature of the life into which we are born.

For the Buddhist, grasping and aversion are the most basic attributes of the ego. They reflect the simplest (mis)understanding of our purpose on this planet.

Yesterday Saddam Hussein was executed. I spent a dreadful and interesting week in Iraq, soon after the end of Saddam’s war with Iran. The evil he sowed in his country was palpable. He will not be missed. But he would not, I venture, see himself as an evil man. Indeed showed little fear at his execution.

How can this be? How can the architect of evil escape knowledge of it? I suspect it is that he cannot see the evil as his morality remained that of a child – consumed by grasping and aversion. Indeed he had corupted this for he asserted confluence between his ego and the fate of a nation. This is an assertion born of desperate fear of mortality. The dictator can do no evil for he is part of a greater canvas. He will not die because his life is the life of the nation.

We all do this to some extent. We dream we will live on through our children. Or the work we have accomplished. Or the art we have created. Or the friends we leave behind. We will transcend our mortality through our mortal creations!

As we grow we see through the vain hope that we can somehow transform creation in a way which will enable us to endure beyond it. “It

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