Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What Am I Clinging To?

Gil's talk last night was in large part devoted to the topic of 'turning towards clinging'. Listening to him reminding me of the importance of asking oneself the question: 'What am I a clinging to?' over and over again. Getting in touch with the second noble truth, as I did yesterday.

Sitting in my office, all to the joy of working, I got interrupted by rant from loved one about some stupid (to me at least) little thing. I knew better than to react back. I did all the right things. Took a breath, briefly surveyed mind, and said no to unskillful thoughts. I voiced what seemed like a reasonable response, and shared my honest feelings. After a while, loved one came to his senses and moved on. I didn't, and felt increasingly bothered as the day progressed. By evening, sitting at IMC with the rest of the sangha, I had turned into a hot coal, smoldering with anger. There was nothing to do, but sit patiently, being with heat rising all the way up to the top of my head, and the tightness from aversion to this unwished for reaction. 

Then, Gil spoke:
We need to eventually release whatever we are holding on to. As mindfulness matures, we become more and more inclined to take responsibility for our clinginess, e.g. what holding on to anger or resentment does inside of us in reaction to what other person has done. We don't turn away from the clinging but we turn into it. We need to understand our problem by bringing our attention to it and feeling it fully. It is not so much about thinking about as feeling our experience. We feel the unpleasantness, and our dislike of it. We get close and intimate with our bad feelings. Eventually our dislike and resistance to it fall away. Same thing with liking. Turning toward, sitting still, we feel what we are feeling, e.g. if feeling lousy, just feel lousy, instead of feeling lousy and hating it. This may take some time, as we let ourselves feel the clinging. We need to be patient, allowing whatever needs to unfold. There is an art in holding 'it' and letting the reaction fall away. Then we get a chance to see what we are holding to, e.g. beliefs, etc.
Break open a cherry tree,
and there are no flowers.
But the spring breeze 
brings forth myriad blossoms.
~ Ikkyu Sojun ~

Sitting, listening to Gil's recitation of the poem, meanwhile holding the unpleasantness, all of a sudden, a flash of insight, 'I am clinging to peace.' Loved one had interrupted my much cherished peace, and I had been resentful ever since the interruption. Why such an attachment to peace, and aversion to its enemy, conflict? I've got reasons, having been raised in a conflict-ridden home, with an angry father, always ready to erupt at the slightest (perceived) provocation. 

Sitting, I experienced the liberation from having understood the source of the clinging. I had been caught, only I did not know to what. 

A good reminder for next time unease arises . . . 

What are you clinging to?

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