The Nature of Aversion, by Kate Munding:

About Kate Munding:

Kate Munding is co-guiding teacher of IMCB. She has been practicing since 2002 and has done numerous 1-2 month intensive practice periods. Kate is currently in Spirit Rock’s Teacher Training program. Kate has also trained approximately 2,000 educators, therapists, and parents in mindful awareness techniques and philosophy in the U.S. and abroad.


So, like I said, this evening, we’re going to explore our relationship with aversion, and, in a way, we’re— I’d like us to really do a lot of inquiry around this topic, and what that is will become more clear in a moment. The first—maybe what would be helpful is for me to talk a little bit about what aversion is. It’s not an uncommon word. It’s something that sometimes we use in our day-to-day, but in Buddhist practice, this word has a very special place in our understanding of what produces our suffering our stress, our discomfort, unhappiness. So this is an important word and an important topic for us to really go into and better understand.

So, different ways that we can define aversion—one way would be to say, a wanting to be separated from someone or something, some experience, wanting to be separate, wanting the experience to be other than it is, or wanting someone to be other than they are, including ourselves. So there’s a sense with an aversion of pushing away what’s happening. And it can even have that somatic experience of actually pushing away this feeling of wanting to getaway. So it might be actually quite aggressive pushing away. It might be more of a turning away from what’s happening. Not even wanting to look at it, denying it.

In the Pali language, this word aversion, what I found in the ___, which I’m not a Pali scholar, I’m not a ___ scholar, so there might be more to this than what I’m sharing, but what I found, in the Pali language, and we’ve heard this before if you come here regularly that a lot of the words in Pali, we have a hard time translating into a single word of English. Our language doesn’t quite meet the vocabulary and the experience of the vocabulary is touching upon in Pali, and so it gets a little bit tricky and complex when we are translating words from Pali to English.

So in Pali, they have this word ___, which is often what’s translated into aversion, but it can also be translated to aggression, anger, hatred, hostility. So, I think that’s actually something important to keep in mind when we talk about aversion that there are these qualities within aversion that really are imbued with this ill will. That there’s a root of hatred or anger, dislike. So, that’s important, for us to hold that in this context. Another Pali word ___, which is often the word used when talking about the hindrances, the things, the aspects in our minds that hinders us from seeing how things really are, and aversion is one of those mental states. And so, this word ___, is often more accurately translated directly to ill will. So ill will, aversion, not wanting, pushing away, so it’s not just casual, there’s actually something quite aggressive about aversion, whether we are feeling it at that moment or not, it’s something for us to really notice.

So, what I’d like us to do is first get in touch how aversion is taking place in our life right now. And to do this, I’d like you to take a moment to think about what are you resisting in your life right now? What’s happening in your life that is feeling a lot of resistance to? So take a moment to think about it, and maybe it’s really obvious. Maybe you’re going through something really difficult that you just don’t want to be happening, maybe it’s something more subtle, and maybe it was something even in this last set that was something that you were hoping would go away or just wouldn’t be there anymore.

We’re going to explore this a little further. If you’re willing, I’d like you to turn to, just one other person next to you, you don’t have to know them. In fact, it’s sometimes it’s nice to turn towards someone you don’t know, and I’d like to, you just share a little bit. You can take some time to go back-and-forth about what you are feeling averse to right now in your life. How is this showing up in your life? And we’ll just take some time to do this. If this is—if you’re feeling aversion to this exercise, which I know that can certainly be a possibility, you always have a choice to participate or not participate, but you might just use that as your inquiry as you start to look at. How is this showing up in your life? Does it get in the way in certain interactions? So, I’ll leave that up to you. There’s no judgment here. Totally your call, but if you are willing, why don’t you turn towards somebody next to you and each of you can just take about 2 minutes to share what it is that is coming up for you around this topic. How is aversion showing up in your life right now? Or, what are you resisting in your life right now? Is that clear? Okay, I’ll ring the bell to tell you to come back. Okay?

(bell rings)

Okay, I’d love to hear some of what you came up with. Oh, good. Thank you. What are you resisting right now in your life? Sounded like there was quite a bit. Right here. Yes. Is it? How is it working?

Oh, you know what, we might need battery. That’s okay. Why don’t you say it and I’ll repeat it back?

It’s, it’s, I’ll repeat it just because it’s being recorded and some people would need that for hearing.

Audience: — and I, uhm, my relationship to that experience as it comes up is very much one of trying to escape it and I do that in much healthier ways than I used to. You know, I try to find the next spiritual answer to my suffering, but it’s still sort of this relationship is around—aversion?

(Back to Kate)

Yes. Great. I bet that’s really relatable.

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About the author 

Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]