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Wish to feel better? Think differently, think wisely

Practice and QA. Cont' 2

Works Bro James and Sis Shymiin were working on before his passing.

How to manage feelings? Manage the mind and one of many ways to do that, is through wise reflection.

WISE REFLECTION “What is wise reflection and how to do it?”

Wise Reflection is to prompt thoughts connected with Alobha (non-greed) and Adosa (non-aversion) roots (and some, also connected with knowledge).

It's not just any thinking or "positive" thought that gives joy. Thoughts connected with craving, greed and attachment also has joy.

Specifically, wise reflection is wholesome thought. Wholesome thoughts can arise with (wholesome) neutral feelings or (wholesome) pleasant feelings.

Wholesome pleasant feelings has a nature of fulfilment and contentment, while wholesome neutral feelings feels 'peaceful'. Neither of these feelings have the side effect of leaving you feeling empty and dissatisfied like sensual pleasure or bored like unwholesome neutral feeling.

Wholesome feelings are conducive for spiritual growth.

Change 'your' thought, change 'your' feeling.

So, think wisely. Think wholesome positive thoughts.

Of course, wholesome thoughts are absent when hindrance is present. Therefore, you need to prompt it ~ that means, intentionally bring it out, cultivate and develop it so that it is habitual.

What are some wholesome thoughts that you could consider prompting?

Appreciation (Adosa) produce joy and gratefulness. Gratefulness also brings out contentment (Alobha).

Practise appreciation and gratitude daily.

There was story about a parrot king told by Buddha in Dhammapada. In that, he told of a large number of the parrot king’s followers left the groves after much of the fruits there, were eaten.

But the parrot king remained as he was contented with whatever was there. When King Sakka knew of this, came down in the form of geese and asked the parrot king why he didn’t take off with the rest?

The parrot king’s reply was he felt gratitude that is why he didn’t leave.

Contentment is rooted in non-greed (alobha). It’s an excellent mental state to cultivate to counter the feeling of insecurity, lack and fear of not having enough in the future.

The Buddha said, in the Second Discourse on Impermanence in the Khandha Samyutta, when there is contentment, there is no craving. In the absence of craving, it becomes possible to realise the supreme peace in this very life.

How to do this?

Start by bringing an awareness to your body posture. Relax and soften your expression and any tension elsewhere in the body.

Intentionally, go through all your blessing, beginning with material blessings that you have right now. Reflect on all the basics you have, shelter, clothes, food, vehicle. Reflect on the place where you live where basic amenities are available, healthcare, transport, absence of war, personal freedom to practise meditation and so much more. Know that your basic needs (food, shelter and clothing) are already met. There is enough to meet all needs, but not all wants. It’s the standard of living that we have gotten used to (attachment) which cause fear at the thought of losing it. Let go and focus on the basics.

Reflect on the human blessings of your life. The Buddha said, to be born a human being is a huge blessing. Life as a human is indeed a blessing itself and we have the potential to train the mind to its highest, that is total freedom from suffering. We shouldn't waste it or weaken the mind by succumbing to sorrow or be too distracted by enjoyment. Uplift it, train it, gladden it and get back to the practice. Appreciate that you have come into the Buddha's teaching which is even more rarer. They are so many who haven't and many who come to learn, have yet to establish their practice. You have. Appreciate these precious opportunities. Appreciate that you still have faculties to enjoy and make use of - to do good and practice Satipatthana Meditation. It’s a great blessing indeed! How very blessed you are.

Let these wise thoughts gladden the mind. Do it daily or as many times as needed until the mind feels uplifted.

Metta (Adosa)~loving-kindness, caring brings out patience, acceptance and develops compassion

Prompt Metta to arise often in your daily life.

In order to for Metta to be strong or automatic, it should be practised in daily life in addition to the formal practice we do weekly.

How is Metta practised in daily life?

In principle, whatever object that comes into your sensory experience, prompt Metta as the (next) response.

These are some examples of Metta in daily life practice:

  • The moment you see your loved ones in the morning, share a kind greeting, even if it is just a good morning.

  • Before you eat, appreciate and be thankful to the ones who prepared it or in anyway made it possible for you to enjoy a meal. Say thank you to show appreciation and kindness.

  • Say thank you to the cashier, smile - it makes their day more pleasant.

  • Try not to keep score of your loved ones' wrong doing. Forgive and let it go.

  • Similarly, whatever you see or hear or come to your mind, 'may [this being] be well and happy.

  • When you hear birds chirping outside, 'may the birds be well and happy'.

  • As best you can, extend Metta to other types of beings such as insects or animals (and even unseen beings).

Practise letting go and forgiveness

If a difficult person constantly arises in your mind, let go of the thinking connected to the unpleasant things they have done or not done to or for you. If you don't, sadness and anger will continue to arise and build up its strength.

Let it go. Let go of that thinking that produce pain, disappointment, sorrow and grief, meaning disengage and discontinue it the moment you are aware of it. Let go of your expectation or wish for the other to do or what you'd like to receive from them or even, how they behave. Let go and follow up by Metta, 'may [that being] be well and happy.

It helps to bring out forgiveness first. One of many ways to bring out forgiveness is to reflect, that we are heir to our Kamma. Only that follows us upon death, nothing else can. Every time grudges (illwill) arise and without mindfulness, it registers again in the mind. Fresh seeds are planted. So, be aware of it, let it go. You can also transform it by cultivating Metta towards this challenging object. In order for Metta to arise more easily towards difficult people, try to 'neutralise' them by perceiving them from a different perspective. For example, this person (object) is not a practitioner, he has no wisdom. He does all these out of ignorance of kamma and vipaka. As it is, it's already so hard to develop wisdom, what more could I expect from him/her? Notice patience arising upon such reflection. Follow that up with Metta.

Practise until the object no longer hurts the mind when it arises. Practise until the object loses its strength and no longer affects the mind.

Similarly, when we encounter with these unpleasant situations:

  • When someone criticises, let it go. Detach, note it as air element, or 'that's just his concept, external mental formation ~ we don't have to accept, agree or let it affect our mind, internally. And, follow up with Metta, 'may you be peaceful'. You may simply focus on Metta only, 'may you well and happy'. If you need to reinforce detachment, then reflect, 'think what you like, nothing to do with me in reality. May you be well and happy'.

  • Similarly, if a driver cuts into your lane, think, it is actually not yours. We only need to make space, both in our mind and physically. Make space, for peace and happiness. Make space for patience. Just let them go. Make space. 'May you [that being] be safe. May we be safe and be free from danger.' What they have gained is just physical space and maybe appeasement of their ego. Truly, a few seconds ahead is insignificant. What you have gained is much more and often overlooked because it is intangible. You have gained patience (Khanti parami, perfection). These are wholesome minds, highly meritorious. You have done what many may not be able to do. This is a long term gain, that conduces to spiritual growth and follows you to the next life. Taking a front row seat or being a few seconds ahead is nothing compared to your gain.

Reflection on Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta brings out detachment (Alobha) and leads to wisdom

There are many Discourses given by the Buddha which we can use for this reflection. [To be explained further in another post]

Four Right Efforts

Effort is needed to prompt because firstly wholesome thought isn't present and secondly, it is not habitual. When it is present but not continuous, effort is also needed to maintain it. If you could maintain wholesome thoughts and make it habitual in daily life, you'll definitely experience a great increase in mental stability because hindrances are being managed. And, you'd also notice when you do your formal practice, the mind gets into calmness more quickly.

There are times the mind is weak especially when you didn't get enough rest or didn't keep up with practice or simply, the object is stronger at that moment. When it feels like you can't keep up, take a walk, rest, listen to chanting or Dhamma talk or doing something you enjoy to break off that unprofitable momentum.

Then, make use of that break as a transition to wise reflection and follow up by Satipatthana practice.

The most direct way to overcome difficulties is to transform them into objects of Satipatthana Practice. (More on the practice later.)

Object, senses and contact are all subject to arising and passing away. Just as a shrewd business doesn’t depend on one supplier, a wise person should not depend solely on sense objects and sense pleasure for his or her happiness. They make time to develop spiritual feelings, which is far more enduring than sensual joy. This is the way of a balanced lay-life.

A wise person goes on further to develop insight-wisdom into feelings (and other aggregates) and transcend beyond them.

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