Saturday, October 5, 2019

A Couple of Insights

     As I was starting to make homemade granola a few hours ago, some very old thoughts / heavy feelings (feel physically heavy; and like gloom & doom emotionally) spontaneously returned. I've wrestled with these old aches on & off since early childhood, mercifully less & less over the past decade or two. 
     This time, however, I (finally) had the insight that these 'objects' of mind are 'empty' - not even close to being solid as I had always felt, but completely dependent on many causes & conditions, the most important of which was my focusing attention on them and thus magnifying, & (almost) solidifying them! When something like a sad (or anxious, angry, etc) thought is enlarged & (almost) turned into a solid unmovable mountain, there's no room left for anything else in our consciousness.
     But when we experience thoughts & emotions as empty, we recognize their true transient, ephemeral nature, so they take up no space at all, and can't weigh us down. The spaciousness we now enjoy allows relief, perspective, freedom, choice, wise decisions, peace & joy!
     The legendary meditation teacher, Ajahn Chah used to say to his students on retreat: "Are you suffering? Good!!" The classical follow-up question is: "Who is suffering?" 
     My second insight was that I am not a solid, unchangeable lump of meat, permanently damaged by life's circumstances. My 'self' also is empty. It takes study and meditative insight to really get this - a superb book on the subject: Guy Armstrong. “Emptiness. A Practical Guide for Meditators.” Wisdom Publications, 2017. But the insight of 'not-self' (anatta) really is a huge, welcome relief. 
     See also:
     To delve a bit deeper into 'emptiness':
     Most of us have a fair bit of 'baggage,' and the future holds "10,000 joys AND 10,000 sorrows" for all of us, AND YET most of our suffering is preventable.

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