27 Oct
Posted in: Books, Practice
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Another Escape

The Monday night KM Book Group meets tonight and the passage I underlined for discussion is this quote from the Buddha:

Being contacted by painful feeling one seeks delight in sensual pleasure. For what reason? Because the uninstructed worldling [meaning: regular a person who hasn’t learned the Buddha’s teachings] does not know of any escape from painful feeling other than sensual pleasure…”

Right. But, of course, it doesn’t work.

It feels good for a moment. But it’s not really satisfying because the pleasure doesn’t last. And it does nothing to address the underlying problem. What’s worse, it just adds it’s own painful consequences.

So what other “escape” is there? Painful feelings (both physical and psychological) are always popping up!

Here’s what the Buddha says: “When feeling a pleasant feeling, one knows, ‘I feel a pleasant feeling.’ When feeling an unpleasant feeling, one knows, ‘I feel an unpleasant feeling.’…”

What that means in practice is to stay with the feeling…recognizing that it’s unpleasant, but not getting carried away with it. For example: I feel really lonely.

The practice is to notice the feeling before it goes all the way into: I’m so alone. Everywhere I look, I see people together. I’ve got nobody. Nobody loves me. I’ll never have sex again. I’m too old. I’m too fat. I’m so depressed. I feel like shit…..

Instead of that, notice the “I feel lonely” voice right when it starts up. Then notice: This feels unpleasant. Then pay attention to whatever comes up next. Probably something like: I don’t like this. Notice how that feels. Is it pleasant or unpleasant? Probably unpleasant. Then just keep noticing what comes up and whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant (or neither).

Pretty soon you’ll notice that when you don’t keep adding fuel to the fire, the feeling dies down. It comes and goes. It’s not permanent. You’re not doomed. You may even have enough peace of mind at that point to see that something can be done to address the situation. Or not. And even that, you can come to be at peace with.

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