There are 3 ways of dealing with a poisonous situation when it occurs. All three are valuable in varying degrees of skill and elegance.
Say you find a tree with poisonous fruit in your back yard. What will you do?
- You can cut the tree down and be assured that nobody will die as a result of eating the fruit
- You can put a fence around the tree and put up a warning sign
- You respect and utilize the tree and fruit and make a medicinal potion that cures certain illnesses
The first strategy can be appropriate when we try to let go of an unwanted addiction or behavior. To cut it down and conquer it may be a necessary step on our evolving path to living wisely.
It is also how cancer and other illnesses are frequently treated, especially if they defy our understanding. We simply try to eradicate them out of existence. While this approach may work sometimes, it often does not.
In some ways, it is a rather blunt way to dealing with the problem.
Also, the problem may persist, meaning that out of the seeds of that tree, a new poisonous tree might grow.
The second level is considered more refined and more compassionate. Instead of killing the problem, we acknowledge the danger, and will warn anyone approaching the tree that there is danger - including to remind ourselves. We approach with respect, what we do not understand.
The third way is the way of the shaman or the yogi. Not only do we respect the poisonous tree and seek to understand it, but furthermore we will be able to transform the poison into medicine.
It takes a courageous heart to transform the poison - thus the need for spiritual practices.
I encourage you to look at your experiences - what would you need, to move towards the yogi's way?