Facebook reminds me of this post from a year ago today: “The “id” (called “unconscious” in Spanish) is not a structure, but a mental state”.

Thich Nhat Hanh (affectionately referred to as Thay – meaning “Teacher” in Vietnamese – by his monastic disciples as well as his lay followers, such as myself) used to love poking a bit of fun at Shakespeare during his teachings (Dharma talks). He’d sit quietly for a few minutes until you could hear a pin drop in the meditation hall filled with nearly 1,000 people (give or take a crying baby or two), and then say, in his characteristically soft-spoken style: “To be… or not to be… is NOT the question”. I remember laughing out loud when I heard this.

You know who else might also have been wrong? Sigmund Freud, who developed the psychoanalytic theory of personality development, which argues that personality is formed through conflicts among three fundamental structures of the mind: the id (“inconsciente”), the superego (“superyo”) and the ego (“yo” in Spanish).

According to his theory,
  1. the “id” is an unconscious structure made up of primitive and instinctive components which do not change with time or experience and is not in touch with the external world. It is not affected by reality or logic and operates on the “pleasure principle”, which is the idea that every wishful impulse should be satisfied immediately, regardless of consequence. It is selfish and wishful in nature.
  2. The “superego” represents the values and morals of society and is made up of two systems: the conscience (that which gnaws at us and makes us feel guilt) and the ideal self. The “superego”‘s function is to control the “id”‘s impulses.
  3. And

Meanwhile, here is Thay giving a Dharma talk on Buddhist psychology:

Whereas, undoubtedly, Freud’s theories helped me let go of attachments and become emotionally free enough to seek deeper knowledge and understanding, Thay’s teachings have guided me towards the clearer recognition that the purpose of my life is to wake up from an unconscious (“id”) state of mind, where things happen just “because” (i.e. without explanation), and where I do what I do because that’s the way it is and that’s the way it’s always been. My purpose is to wake up from a mental state where there are no questions and therefore, there is no understanding. It is to wake up from the mental state in which “auto-pilot”, reactivity, distraction and lack of focus take over, and this waking up is a daily task as well as a source of great happiness. Daily because it is only in this moment that I canwake up. And I do it through the practice (because it is a practice) of meditation. Formal (sitting) and informal (moment by moment) practice, both on my own and with a sangha.
So with that said, may 2019 be a year of awakening – for myself… and for you!