It is the human predisposition towards drama and projection that underpins much of our suffering – our need for drama. I define drama as the “irresponsible emotional manipulation of others with the aim of establishing a personal agenda.” Drama is rewarding to the ego because it grants an opportunity to get what one wants in situations where the ego feels that it either has no real power, or when it does not want to pay the price for embodying genuine strength. That cost may vary, but always involves taking personal responsibility.
This strong tendency of the mind towards rumination is today a far bigger challenge than it was for mindfulness practitioners of yesteryear. The Buddha didn’t have to struggle with a daily dose of Twitterous twits constantly attempting to trigger him into emotional reaction. Lao Zi’s attention was most likely inward much of the time, aligned with the Dao, not battling opponents on Reddit. The ancient Chinese sage was quite happy to permit the dramas of king and courtiers to carry on as preferred. And Christ’s daily prayer sessions were not interrupted by smart phone alerts, notifying him to the urgent “breaking news” that he just had to read in order to stay informed and on top of his game.