First off I want to address a common mis-perception of what I do here, on this site. I don’t espouse a philosophy, I practise what works for me towards peace of mind and write of it in one way or another – there is a world of difference. If you don’t get it, that’s ok, just do what’s true for you. You can’t go wrong, or if you do it’s only to get it right.
… what I do here is as old as the hills.
I came to it after many years through a fundamental need, born of my experience, to know peace of mind. And who doesn’t, eventually.
I came to see the only impediment to peace of mind is my own psychological self, the conditioning of the mind, the grip of the past repeating itself.
This idea is mine in as much as I articulate it and live it, the best I can. If you get it, the idea, it is also yours, as much as you live it – this is important, nobody owns an idea, or everybody does.
And the idea is not exclusive, any man or woman can do it any time anywhere. It’s just a matter of that, doing it.
What is the ‘Problem?
What, in your own experience – not what you’ve read or been told, is the common factor in any problem you have ever had. What is the common factor in worry, heartache, paranoia, jealousy, misery, depression, or any other form of unhappiness?
In my experience it is thinking and/or emotion. Usually a mix of the two since they are inextricably linked. You can’t get emotional without thinking and you can’t have thinking without emotion to generate it, as a problem. Emotion generates thought about what it is you are emotional about, and thinking (about a problem) stirs emotion about the thing thought. One is dependent on the other, as a problem. If it’s not a problem it doesn’t matter.
Now, in your own experience is there any other common factor in any form of unhappiness you know of, besides thought and emotion? There is, your attention or intelligence. The fact you give your attention to your unhappiness is what fuels it, fundamentally. Which is how you can be distracted from your unhappiness, by distracting your attention.
You might say otherwise but the next time you are unhappy you will notice it is the thinking and emotion that sustains it, by you giving your attention to it as if it is the greater reality.
It is, but only because you have believed it, and as long as you still believe it. And that is a mechanical process.
That’s my own experience. What is yours?
Well, clearly, if thinking and emotion are the basis for unhappiness the solution to unhappiness has got to be in the cessation of that emotion and thinking. Or do you think your unhappiness comes from ‘outside’ and you can find the solution ‘there’, somebody or something does it to you, so somebody or some thing can fix it, really?
After all these years people, you and me, have sought the solution to unhappiness ‘out there’ and we haven’t found it yet, out there. Maybe because it isn’t out there at all and the only where else to look is inside. Or do you know of somewhere else?
So, how to free myself of the mechanics of unhappiness? That’s the only real question I can see since the solution would be the basis for the only real change from the unhappy human condition that prevails. Or is there something more important than to be free of unhappiness?
If there is, I’d like to know what.
And the Solution?
Thinking and emotion persist as unhappiness because we give it our attention at the outset. What if we don’t give it our attention, what then? What if I am fast enough to catch the thought or emotion before it takes me over? How do I speed up my intelligence enough to keep the unhappiness out?
Surely, if I don’t attend to the feeling or thinking that constitutes unhappiness, as if it is the truth, I can’t be unhappy. Surely? I know this looks too absurdly simple to be true but test it in your own experience. If you don’t give your attention to your unhappiness and deal only in the facts of your life as they arise your unhappiness disappears, more or less.
For instance, if you are unhappy (or stressed, or whatever word you use for it) about something in particular you need to do something about it. If you are worried about having no money you need to do something about getting some, or give up worrying, that’s practical, factual. If you are fearful of the boss because he has a terrible temper you need to draw the line and stand your ground, for your own peace of mind, or accept the situation, or leave. Action clears the problem.
Any other practical ‘problem’ also requires practical action to eliminate the emotion. That leaves the habit of unhappiness, the fact it keeps on recurring uncontrollably, to be dealt with by not focusing on the emotion and so feed it with thinking.
So, there is the unhappy emotion or thinking – as a problem, and there is the attention I give to it. For there to be a solution there has to be something else to give my attention to, and there is.
There is another element in this (mechanical) system of being human that is rarely observed and that is the sensation inside. This is the means of speeding up the intelligence, by slowing down the mind.
What this means is you have something other than thought or emotion to focus on, something that is more real and won’t go away. And by doing so the ‘problem’ is reduced or eliminated.
So the solution, to the ‘problem’, is to take control of what you give your attention to, obviously.
To put it another way.
There is the problem (of emotion and thinking), there is the pure simple sensation – that is the only reliable anchor against the movement of mind, and there is the attention or intelligence that sustains either. Which am I going to give my attention to, the problem or the sensation?
The sensation ‘inside’ the body is the basis for the senses that appear to be of the ‘outside’ but are in fact cognised inside, sight, hearing, touch, smell and taste along with more subtle senses. And the senses are most easily realised in nature.
I start with focus on the pure inner sensation as it is the more substantive, and add the others as progress is made in slowing the mind, as the practise is established. Nature is the ‘outer’ reciprocal of the inner sensation.
This, the inner and outer of sensation and nature is the basis for the changeover from mind to sense, and it occurs gradually.
The way it works is this. What I give my attention to grows. If I give my attention to the ‘problem’ it grows, check next time you are worried what happens if you think about it, you get more worried. And if you can give your attention to the pure sensation what happens? It grows, or the problem (of emotion) recedes.
The ‘good’ Wolf and the ‘bad’ Wolf, of that old Indian proverb. The one that wins is the one you feed the most, or give your attention to.
But to be able to do it in the ‘hard’ times, when the pressure is really on, you have to have practised it in the ‘easy’ times.
That is the basis for this blog of mine. Does it make sense?
(See Meditate if you are interested in that.)
Mark Berkery ……. Click any picture and click again to enlarge