"When understood, the Buddha’s universe..is anything but alien and inhibiting. It is a world full of hope, where everything we need to do can be done and everything that matters is within human reach. It is a world where kindness, unselfishness, non-violence, and compassion achieve what self-interest and arrogance cannot. It is a world where any human can be happy in goodness and the fullness of giving." ❦ Eknath Easwara

October 30, 2011

Meditation: How to Deal with the Tight Mental Fist of Aversion

"[When pain arises in meditation] you’ll notice that there is a tight mental fist wrapped around that sensation. That tight mental fist is aversion. “I don’t like it, I don’t want it to be there.”

Now the truth is, when a sensation arises, it’s there. That’s the truth. Any time you try to fight with the truth, any time you try to control the truth, any time you try to make the truth anything other than it is, you’re fighting with the dhamma. And it causes a lot of pain and suffering. It takes a normal pain, and it turns it into an emergency. And then you can’t stand it, and then you have to move around, you can’t—“argh this is too painful!”

So what you do next is notice that tight mental fist, and you have to realize the truth, that that pain is there, and you’re tightening around it. So you allow the space for that pain to be. You’re not trying to control it, you’re not trying to make it anything other than it is. All you’re doing is taking that craving, that dislike of that feeling, and you’re letting it go. You relax... you gently smile, come back to your object of meditation, stay with your object of meditation as long as you can.

The thing with pain is that it’s not going to go away right away, whether you like that idea or not. And it’s going to come back, and your mind is going to do the same thing again. It’s going to think about “Why doesn’t it just stop? Why doesn’t it go away?” Or, if it’s an itch, “Why don’t I just scratch it?”

But the whole point of the meditation is to learn how mind’s attention works, not how to control anything. Loving-kindness is loving acceptance of the present moment. That means allowing the present moment to be, even though it’s extremely painful. Allow that feeling to be, relax the tension and tightness wrapped around it, smile. “But it hurts!” I don’t care! Smile. Come back to your object of meditation.

Now one of two things will happen: Either the pain will go away, or it won’t. So, if it doesn’t go away, what happens with your mind is that it starts to gain equanimity. And before long, that sensation can be there and it doesn’t’ even pull your attention it. And you don’t pay attention to it anymore. Most often, it does go away eventually. It depends on your attachment to it.

But trying to think our pain and control our pain, our frustrations, our anger, our dissatisfactions whenever they arise, trying to control those with your thoughts, or trying to ignore the fact that it’s there, is the cause of more and more suffering. So we really have to learn to let go of our thinking about the pain and allow the space for that pain to be there without tightening around it."

Bhante Vimalaramsi
from Commentary on the Anupada Sutta

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