In aour consumer culture, bombarded by marketing, with the basic message being:
"you need this to be ____ safe, happy, loved, etc"
—we're bathed in an overriding meme, that there's something that must be gathered in, grasped, attained and clung to if we're to be achieve any lasting peace.
—its not just in our advertisements, it lurks in the messages we receive from institutions, chasing diplomas, commendations, linkedIn recommendations, clean bills of health, etc.
this movement can easily be brought into our spiritual lives as well… we want to gather in some special insights and tools to find lasting peace
—its no wonder that so much of spiritual literature and courses do so well
—what we learn: i pay to be given something that i'm missing to get me where i can find happiness
inherent in grasping and gathering and clinging are at least four important, unconscious events:
1) there's a putting off into the future of inner peace; a sense that real peace cannot be experienced now, as pieces to the puzzle are missing
2) it legitimizes our incorrect view that happiness is to be found "out there" and i just haven't stumbled across it yet.
—i have to go somewhere, get some signature or certificate for the door to be opened
3) grasping (tanha & upadana) creates becoming (bhava), the incorrect idea that i have an identity now that cannot find inner peace.
—the buddha taught “be a light unto thyself” not “become a light…”
4) and as a result, the "I who am lacking needs to acquire something" creates a sense that there's an "i" that is incomplete.
so notice that grasping has created a sense of an unsatisfactory present, an unsatisfactory place, an unsatisfactory identity.
—the buddha called the “flowing out” of the mind in search of a distant happiness asava
—grasping creates the bulk of suffering, not the events of the world or the inevitable setbacks of life
meditation and mindfulness (inner awareness during the day) develops the skill of letting go of our grasping tendancies, in favor of practice that emphasizes being present here and now, while dropping our self-narratives..
1) karma teaches us that right now, if i relax physical tension and replace stressful thinking, then i can make real inroads on serenity.
—its not all in the future.
2) the three characteristics teach us that external pleasures we grasp at fade; we grow habituated to them, or they disappear from reach, etc.
—lasting happiness is found "in here" so there's no traveling
3) the core of anatta lakkhana "lacking i" is in an of itself stressful. it undermines our confidence and produces a clutching desperation: i need this or that.
the buddha's answer to clutching and gathering for happiness is first becoming aware of the internal dimension of any discomfort we're experiencing.
—people often have no clue as to the actual components of their stress and suffering.
Wherever there is stress there are two dimensions:
1) the external experience and
2) the internal.
—we're invariably aware of the external disagreeable sensations
—we're generally largely unaware on the internal experience... The breath and body, the feelings, the emotional state of the mind, the underlying assumptions and expectations
—we're carry this underlying stress into each encounter, not noticing its presence, blaming external objects (the person we're with) for our discomfort.
—we try to get rid of the external objects that are mistaken as the primary cause of stress, failing to notice the role all the underlying resistance played.
The more underlying physical and emotional stress, the less we can detach from the external sensations.
--our underlying physical discomfort pushes us towards more towards the external, creating even greater discomfort.
—example: someone we don't like comes into the room, we become physically and emotionally uncomfortable, which pushes us towards them. then we try to get rid of them to make the stress go away.
—note that the only way out of stress here seems to be getting rid of the external sensations i've associated with it.
—In every uncomfortable experience in life this dynamic is occurring
Once we've observed the internal machinations of discomfort, we have opportunities to change what has arisen:
—(rupa) we can work with the breath, making it less shallow and incomplete; the breath can send a message to the body & mind that everything is ok
—(vedana) we can work with underlying gut feelings of resistance, the tight stomach, the tight jaw, the contracted shoulders, etc
—(citta) we can work with the mind's awareness itself; is it pouring out to the external (asava), creating anxiety? is it agitated and jumpy? is it sluggish and dull? we can note what state we're in and return to the breath to work with it.
—(dhammas) what are the underlying assumptions that we've brought to the encounter? what inner narratives and expectations are we focusing on that create our underlying stress?
—thoughts of gratitude, forgiveness, compassion tend to relieve resistance.