Claire was having an affair with the mirror.
It was a love-hate relationship. Sometimes, she can stare in the mirror for hours, admiring her impeccable features. Other times, all she can see is the zit on the corner of her mouth. In those times, she can’t even stand a glimpse of herself.
Many people are like Claire, but she is one of the lucky ones because she went to see the doctor early. She was diagnosed with Praiseblameitis, a serious symptom of Attachmentitis and the Type A Personality Syndrome (TAPS). Praiseblameitis causes sudden mood swings as the senses comes in contact with the external environment. When Claire sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches, or thinks something good, then she would immediately feel happy. On the other hand, if it’s something bad, then she would automatically feel sad.
This in itself is not a problem. But if Claire is not mindful, this reaction can develop into Attachmentitis. Like an addiction, she would then use her whole life trying to keep the good and rid the bad. Just like drug addicts using drugs to temporarily soothe their addictions, Attachmentitis sufferers often turn to more sources of attachments to cure their Attachmentitis. This, however, not only does not cure Attachmentitis, but makes it even harder for recovery. Attachmentitis is only countered by its opposite: Non-Attachmentdol.
There are many stages of the Non-Attachmentdol Treatment. Initially, the sufferer must understand that they are sick. This is why Claire is so lucky, compared to the many millions of ignorant sufferers. In the second stage, the sufferer begins to realise that their Attachmentitis is caused by their attachment, by identifying what it is that they are attached to. At the essence is an attachment to self – self-image, self-worth, self-love, self-hate. At its extremes, the sufferer would start to believe that everything that happens to them and others is a reflection of their ego. If good, then they would praise incessantly; if bad, they would blame mercilessly. After many years of such conditioning, they develop the fearsome Praiseblameitis.
At this stage of the Treatment, some Attachmentitis and Praiseblameitis patients may become quite disheartened. Therefore, the third stage of the Treatment provides hope for them by showing them the possibility of the complete cure of these vicious diseases: Nibbanadol. It is said that taking a Nibbanadol will cure these diseases forever with no side-effects, unlike Panadol. Nibbanadol is quite difficult to find, and as yet, it is not an over-the-counter medicine. However, the Path to find Nibbanadol has been discovered, and requires eight steps of practice continuously. As such, it has been called the Noble Eightfold Path.
Claire has received Non-Attachment Treatment for some time now and has already started her inner journey on the Noble Eightfold Path to find Nibbanadol. From time to time, she still makes judgments based on her expectations of herself and others: “Oh, I shouldn’t feel like that” or “He’s a terrible person, full of jealousy and anger.” But her doctor would remind her that there is no need to judge, suppress or take sides; just need to notice and see how our mood changes because of this. He tells her that existence depends and originates from many causes and conditions, and therefore there is no such thing as better, lesser, or equal – things are the way they are.
After listening to her doctor, she can then forgive, let go, and free herself from the control feelings once had on her. She can see that pain is just pain, pleasure simply pleasure. They are just feelings and she does not need to judge them as good or bad, nor attach to keeping or ridding them, because she knows that they are impermanent and will not stay. She has no control over these feelings coming or going, and therefore, realises they do not belong to her. She watches them with a smile, without being perturbed when they visit.
Many months later, Claire looks at herself in the mirror for the first time in a while. Crevices and wrinkles had surfaced on her skin, and her hair had grown much longer. The zit was gone without a trace. It might come back, or it might not. She smiles at the mirror, and a stranger smiles back. Her love-hate relationship is turning into one of unconditional love and equanimous acceptance.