Monday, September 19, 2011

The Knot Again

One of the advantages of formal practice as in sitting still in the quietness of morning, or taking a mindful walk alone, is that it allows one to clearly see what belongs in this moment, and what doesn't.

This morning, sitting,  I sensed the knot (post on Ajahn Chah), once more. And I investigated. There was physical suffering for sure, from the tightness. And underneath, fear and aversion. To what? Nothing to be feared in the quietness of my home. Nothing to dislike in this late Spring stroll through the neighborhood. Objectively, only pleasantness. In reality, much unpleasantness. Digging deeper, I found mind doing its dirty work. A string of thoughts unrelated to the present moment, but rather linked to the past, and making up an anticipated future, with the illusion of a solid 'I' as the glue. Not just Elmer's glue, but SuperGlue.

Awareness as solvant for the attachment to the illusion of a fixed self that sticks through time.

Formal practice, a long controlled experiment that allows one to get down to the root causes of suffering, and to unearth those one by one, one nanometer at a time. 

How tight is your knot? Can you see it for what it is?


  1. Yes the knot that pretends not to be a knot. Thanks for the focus. On closer inspection mine is often recrimination over how I 'should' have done something differently - dissolves on discovery and identification but tends to return when I'm not 'looking'. Good incentive to keep looking. btw spring stroll - ru Down Under? :)

  2. Mind's work is neither dirty nor clean. No string of thoughts can be unrelated to the present moment, as they can only arise in the present moment, as its present expression.


    Whatever presents, "belongs" - though this itself is unnecessary conceptual judgement and attachment to thoughts that have no independent existence (empty).

    Suffering comes from the efforts to separate, measure, judge, and label what naturally arises. Mind going about the business of mapping out reality, learning, and protecting us. Human suffering is a quite natural and beautiful response to chaos. Seeking some separate comfortable state, seeking liberation from discomfort, a loving self-defense. Natural. In this sense, awakening, ending such suffering, is an unnatural act in that is violates some very fundamental programming/conditioning.

    Experiencing physical discomfort or mental unpleasantness is not suffering. Cessation of suffering does not end life's pains and sorrows, it is simply the realization of the true nature of this. Seeing mind as it is, each "knot" becomes a sort of embrace, and no longer a problem generating any suffering.

    Thank you for this opportunity to reflect and share.

  3. Reading this prompted me to just STOP and breathe deeply. I'm so unconscious of my tense undercurrents during the work day. The "fight or flight" anxiety always seems to be my usual state. It's rather scary how shallow my breathing normally is, and a wonder I've lived all these years on so little give and take of gases.

    I love the very real down-to-earth relate-ability nature of your posts. I need this.

    Thank you.

  4. Thank you David! Yes, we each have our own version of the knot. Many strands of personal stories woven together to form the cord that tightens us.

  5. K Grey, thank you for sharing. I certainly appreciate your inclusive stand. I also beg to kindly differ regarding your take on the nature of thoughts. There is such thing as wise awareness. My understanding of mindfulness practice makes room for sorting out wholesome from unwholesome thoughts, and deciding this, not this.

  6. lifeonmyownterm, it is wonderful that you STOPPED. Most people don't . . . although almost if not all of us do live in a constricted state. Wise mindfulness is what makes all the difference.

  7. Yes Marguerite, there is certainly room for that sort of process (and no way not to engage in this sort of thing). It's a big part of normal day-to-day functioning and can be very useful (for practical AND reflective purposes).

    My point was not to ignore or debate that, but to point to an inclusiveness that allows for all of it without need of attachment, or adoption of a position, so the self's likes/dislikes are not prerequisites of or obstacles to anything and cannot become generators of suffering. An inclusiveness that sees no other option, no exclusion that is not denial/delusion, and requires no stand be taken while dealing with whatever arises.

    This is subtle. An internal relational shift that may or may not alter appearances.

    Taking a stand (setting morality aside for a moment and just looking at it), is to stand self apart from other. Self getting caught up in endless cycles of attachment and aversion, which is suffering.

    As for your practice making room for "sorting" and "deciding", there is no end to this. Such is the normal action of mind. It is useful as a self-help sort of thing to look at it, and may bring temporary peace of mind and a better sense of self. One of many such processes. Let it take care of itself (and realize it already is).

    Naturally these sortings & choosings will be (both logically and emotionally) preferable/useful to you, but both are also more subtle/insidious manefestations of suffering. That's all that need be realized. Life goes on, with all of that, but none of it presents any real an obstacle...