A great Dhamma talk by Thanissaro Bhikkhu on how we cling to our suffering.
One of the Buddha’s essential insights was the suffering that really weighs down the mind. Its a suffering that we create and that its unnecessary and even though we create it and suffer from it, we cling to it. This has some unexpected implications. One, for a lot of us if we didn’t suffer we’d be lost, or the idea of not suffering, we’d feel lost. Sometimes our strongest sense of who we are comes from being treated unjustly and that’s how we define ourselves, by our suffering, by being treated unjustly and if we were to deny ourselves that perverse pleasure, we’d feel lost. So when other people aren’t treating us unjustly, we start treating ourselves unjustly. If other people aren’t criticizing us unfairly, we’d start criticizing ourselves unfairly, because we’d feel lost without that criticism. So to work around this problem the Buddha has us simply focus on the problem of suffering without asking who’s causing this, or who you are or what you have to do to yourself sense of self to make it better. He just says look at the suffering, in and of itself. That’s the important thing, the in and of itself. That helps you get out of all the entanglements that come around from on the one hand suffering but on the other hand clinging to your suffering. When you can look at it simply on its own terms, see it simply as a pattern of cause and effect, without asking yourself how you are involved in it. When you can see thats its unnecessary and you can see the fact of suffering as its caused, when you see the connection and that you don’t have to do that, it helps loosen up your attachment to the suffering. You’re clinging to the things that cause you to suffer and that’s what defines you and yet you don’t have to worry about being annihilated if you stop the suffering.
~ Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Go forth, O Bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the good, for the benefit and for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach, O bhikkhus, the Dhamma, excellent in the beginning, excellent in the middle, excellent in the end, both in the spirit and the letter. Proclaim the Holy Life, altogether perfect and pure. There are beings with little dust in their eyes, who not hearing the Dhamma will fall away. There will be those who will understand the Dhamma.
May all beings come into contact with the Buddha Dhamma and liberate themselves from suffering.
One of the Buddha’s essential insights was the suffering that really waste down the mind. There’s a suffering that we created. And that’s unnecessary. And even though we created and we suffer from it, we cling to it. And he says that an unexpected implication is that one of us, if we didn’t suffer, we’ll be lost, or the idea of not suffering, we feel lost.
Sometimes, our strongest sense of who we are comes from being treated unjustly. And that’s how we define ourselves, by our suffering. By being treated unjustly. And if we are to deny ourselves that perverse pleasure, we feel lost. To another people who are treating unjustly, we start treating ourselves unjustly. Other people are criticizing us unfriendly, we start criticizing ourselves unfriendly, because we’d feel lost without their criticism.
So the workaround for this problem is to put an ___ is to focus simply on the process of suffering that I was asking. Who’s causing this? Or who you are? Or what you have to do to your sense of self to make it better. Just as look at the suffering in and out of self. That’s the important thing. The in and out of self.
Perhaps, get you out of all the entanglements that come around from on one hand suffering with another hand clinging to your suffering. When you can look at it simply on its own term. It’s simply as a pattern of cause and effect without asking yourself how you’re involved in it. When you can see that it’s unnecessary and you can see that the fact of suffering as it’s being caused. You see the connection, and you don’t have to do that. That helps loosen up your tense to the suffering.
So in the one end, it’s good to understand this process that you’re clinging to the things that’s causing you to suffer. And that’s what defines you. You know, you don’t have to worry about being annihilated if you stop the suffering.
Some people thinks that it’s a scary idea. So again, the Buddha focus, you should pack on just the suffering and another self. Don’t ask who’s doing this, don’t ask how you’re involved in it. Just ask what’s happening. Look at things and not at themselves. Strive with the breath in and out of self. That’s pretty neutral. And ask yourself, what’s going on here in the process of breathing if you realize that you breathe in until it gets uncomfortable then you breathe out. Until it starts to get uncomfortable, then you breathe out, then you stop. And then you breathe back in. You’re bouncing back and forth between the sense of discomfort. You need to breathe. You try to stop breathing, just by holding your breath, that will be painful, too. You cut to breathe, and yet still breathing between one extreme of breathing out too long and the other extreme of breathing in too long. And the breath is in the impersonal process. And something you can watch in and out of the self. Unfortunately for us, there are not too many elaborate theories about the deeper meaning of breath.
It’s simply the fact. The breath is now coming in. The breath is now going out. You can’t watch your future breath. You can’t watch your past breath. You can just watch your present breath. And it’s impersonal. You know that everybody has the same breathing. It’s simply the question of, does it feel good, or not? It’s all you have to ask right now. You ask for other large issues? You can put them aside. Got used to deal in just on this level? The immediate experience of the breath. In and out of self. And in doing that, that helps to depersonalize the issue of suffering. If from this point of you, you can begin to spread your tension to other problems that need depersonalizing as well. To make sure you got this foundation strong, the human stays simply with the issue “now the breath is coming in, now the breath is going out.”
Are you enjoying it? Because you know, you can make the breath really gratifying as it feels good coming in down to the longest down, to the abdomen. It feels refreshing. It feels gratifying. And it’s just that fact of how it feels in the present moment, without you having to get involved on thoughts of identity, the narratives of your life, your world views. Get used to looking things simply on this level as the experiences gets in and out of itself. This gives you a new foundation. You get in touch with the ability to make the present moment pleasant. And it’s not threatened. It’s gratifying. You shift your center gravity away from the sense of self that needs to suffer in order to maintain its identity to a different sense of self. One with this sense of pleasure. And two, there’s more of a sense of competence. The skill you can develop. You see the results immediately. And it’s this new center of gravity that can act as a fulcrum. You can pry loose your other attachments. The old ways of identifying yourself. ___ people going through psychotherapy, trying to figure out which method ___, ___, whatever works best. And they discovered that the actual method didn’t make all that much difference. It was the ability of the patient to get inside his or her body, to fully inhabit the body. And then to work through whatever issues there were in the mind from that step point. This is what you do with the issue. Work with the breath. You’re getting in the body. Getting more sense of the body. Creating new center gravity for yourself. And a new area of sensitivity. A lot of the Buddha’s text talk about the knowledge you gain from meditation as a form of vision. Something you see working towards knowledge and vision, I say. The first personal experience of awakening is opening of the Dharma eye.
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Sean Fargo is the Founder of Mindfulness Exercises, a former Buddhist monk of 2 years, a trainer for the mindfulness program born at Google, an Integral Coach from New Ventures West, and an international mindfulness teacher trainer. He can be reached at [email protected]
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