Pessimism and Karmic Conditioning

May 12, 2021

A student asks about the origins of pessimism. Shambhavi goes meta and talks about why there is only one origin of all phenomena. A podcast from Satsang with Shambhavi

Podcast first Words

Student:  Is there something that causes us to be pessimists?

Shambhavi: Well, whenever we ask the question—what causes this?—the absolute answer is, and everything that happens has the same cause, and that is everything is a self expression of this alive aware reality. And every self-expression is equal to every other self-expression. None of them are better or worse. So pessimism is not worse than optimism. I’m speaking in an absolute sense about the ultimate nature of reality.

But pessimism and optimism are interesting in another way, which is that both pessimism and optimism can cause harm in a relative sense. So a good version of pessimism and a good version of optimism would be the same. And that would be clear seeing. So both pessimism and optimism are deviations from simple, clear seeing.

The quality of the absolute is goodness without a second, without an opposite. So we can’t say the same about pessimism. There’s a kind of fundamental, I wouldn’t say optimism, but fundamental cheerfulness about reality. That’s one word you could choose. And definitely anything other than expressed in a playful way. Like if we’re seriously pessimistic and not just enjoying our own drama of pessimism because that’s possible too.

My mom’s sister was a ballet dancer, and she was very dramatic. And when she would talk, she would talk in a very dramatic way, but you could tell that she wasn’t really taking herself very seriously. And the way you could tell that was the way that she looked at her own hand gestures. So she would say something very dramatic, and she would flair her hand up. And then she would look at her own hand, and then she would kind of giggle.

So that kind of pessimism is fine if we’re just enacting the enjoyment of pessimism. But if we’re seriously pessimistic, if we’re just sort of down always saying something’s not going to work out even we have no evidence for that, it’s just a concatenation of concepts and projections, then what’s happening is we’re not really living in touch with circumstance. You know, what we’re in touch with is our own karmic patterning, and this is called karmic vision. We’re seeing through a lens of karmic patterning, compulsive karmic patterning in the quality or the signal characteristic of karmic patterning is that it’s out of touch with circumstance. It’s out of touch with what’s actually happening, all karmic patterning is that.


Satsang with Shambhavi is a weekly podcast about spirituality, love, death, devotion and waking up while living in a messy world.