Excerpt About Obstacles

Three Obstacle Categories

All obstacles to being ourselves can be divided into three categories: ignorance, desire, and aggression. These major categories are known in many spiritual traditions. They are called the three primary poisons or the three primary roots. Many obstacles can be placed in more than one category. Most obstacles, including those we have explored so far—meddling, resistance, and defense—are a combination of all three. In reality, all three categories are facets of the same thing: they are the three supports of the ego-self, which you can also call the ego life or ego experience. We have recognized the need for many essential aspects, many capacities, that enable us to see and recognize where we are. In earlier chapters, we have discussed awareness, allowing, vulnerability, steadfastness, the capacity to cease interfering, and others. Whenever we are faced with an obstacle, one or more of these qualities of presence can be of help to us. I want to introduce now two other necessary qualities that complement each other: the aspects of strength and compassion. These two can help us when we are faced with obstacles in the category that the majority of people find the most painful to deal with: aggression.

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