We do what we do because we feel it will make us happy or we will avoid suffering

The other day I was overtaken while waiting to turn right at a roundabout. There was no lane to do this and I had only been there a few seconds. Had a police car been there they would have been pulled over. As I saw him coming down the side, pulling up next to me with his dog on his lap, my initial thoughts were negative and condemning, but after the event I reflected on it and remembered that we all want the same thing. We do what we do because we feel it will make us happy or we will avoid suffering. Maybe he was running late or maybe he was looking forward to meeting a loved one. In either case he must have felt that driving like that would bring happiness or avoid suffering in some way.

However, it will not.

Driving without consideration for others will lead to conflict and accidents and ultimately suffering. Even if the driver ‘gets away with it’ they will still suffer as the act in itself will feed their ego, creating separateness. Despite their efforts to avoid it, they will, and already do, hurt. They are victims of their own mind, which is desperately trying to control situations beyond itself, leading them into unrest and stress. For them to even act in such a dangerous way shows that their mind must already be troubled. It’s a vicious circle which can only be broken with awareness.

When we understand that other people like this are unconsciously suffering at their own hands the only natural response is to feel compassion. The same compassion we feel towards people who are sick. A dangerous driver suffers from an ill mind. A mind that is not at peace can cause a stress response in the body, over extended periods of which can even cause our bodies to become sick as well. Dangerous drivers are essentially self harming and although other people sometimes get hurt as well, they will always hurt themselves first.

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