To be in the company of a monastic, even if only through written words, always brings much clarity, peace, and joy into my life. Today, I choose to spend time with Ajahn Sumedho:
My advice is not to make a problem of yourself. Give up making a problem about yourself, or how good or bad you are, or what you should or shouldn’t be.
Yes, that sense that 'I' am a defective product that needs to be improved . . . Or that, if only, there was not this knot, right in my core. Maybe, some day . . . I have not gotten it right, not quite yet. So many variations along the same theme, and underneath each one, a distrust, a subtle hating of the way I experience myself. Like pulling on the cord, only making the knot even tighter.
Learn to trust in your awareness more, and affirm that; recognize it and consciously think, ‘This is the awareness ― listening ― relaxed attention.’ Then you will feel the connection. It is a natural state that sustains itself. It isn’t up to you to create it. It isn’t dependent on conditions to support it. It is here and now whatever is happening. Every moment we recognize awareness ― and really trust and learn to appreciate it ― joy comes, compassion comes, and love. But it isn’t personal; it isn’t based on liking, preferences, or kammic attachments.
Such a welcome point of view! That 'it' is there, no matter what, no matter how I feel, and that I can rest into it. The constantly available safety of dhamma.
The dhamma is not the destruction of conditioned phenomena, but the container of it. All possibilities of conditioned phenomena arise and cease in the dhamma; and there is nothing that can bind us once we see that, because the reality of the dhamma is seen rather than the forms that arise and cease. Mindfulness reflections are skilful means the Buddha developed for investigating experience, for breaking down the illusions we hold, for breaking through the ignorance we grasp at, for freeing ourselves from form, the limited and the unsatisfactory.
I love, love this: The dhamma is not the destruction of conditioned phenomena, but the container of it. So powerful! It's about seeing what is, not going at it with irritation and spite. The clear seeing is what leads to freedom from the tyranny of delusion. Understanding the frailty of conditioned happiness, and the temporary nature of conditioned unhappiness. We are like a small boat constantly bounced around by the currents in the deep ocean of life, whereas the bottom of the sea stays still . . . I see this every day. It does not take much for my mind to go from high to low. Sometimes, a wind from the outside, blowing in one direction or the other. Other times, inner movements from old thoughts ready to bubble up.
Rather than teaching too many techniques now, or giving too much structure, I prefer to encourage people just to trust themselves with mindfulness and awareness.
Yes, keeping it simple. It is kind of ironic, this human tendency of complicating even the most natural of things, such as here, the practice of being with what is. Of course there are misconceptions to be dealt with, and a few traps to avoid along the way! The other day, a girlfriend of my daughter mentioned that she could not meditate. She had tried and had found it impossible "to stop my thoughts" . . . I asked who had taught her such nonsense, and she told me her martial art teacher had instructed her.
Often meditation is taught with this sense that one has to get something or get rid of something. But that only increases the existing idea of ‘I am somebody who has to become something that I am not, and has to get rid of my bad traits, my faults, my defilements.’ If we never see through that, it will be a hopeless task. The best we will ever do under those circumstances is maybe modify our habit-tendencies, make ourselves nicer people and be happier in the world ― and that isn’t to be despised, either ― but the point of the Buddha’s teaching is liberation.
Stepping out of our habitual condition of striving for something or the absence of something. I understand this in my head somehow . . .