This is just a thought, this is just a memory, this is just a feeling, this is just a sensation.

By Ajahn Tiradhammo

What happens is that we usually divide up reality quite subjectively. In reality there are no pleasant or unpleasant; I mean in the real reality. Each one of us makes up our own personality: “I am the one who says that is unpleasant, I am the person that says that is pleasant”. That is what accumulates this part of the personality. And so we get a whole backlog, a whole set of things that are unpleasant and pleasant, then we keep reinforcing that, feeding that. And when there is any kind of threat that some of that stuff will be contacted, resistance comes up. That way is simply making it an enemy, our enemy, and all this stuff is our enemy. Then you want to fight with it, get rid of it, hopefully destroy it, and burn it and bury it, and be peaceful, we hope.

However, if we can have a more peaceful attitude, some of this stuff can come out of the closet and we can see it in a different way — you can see it as it really is. And, when we begin to see it as it really is, without all the subjective stuff, all the subjective colouring: “It’s a threat to me. That hurts me…,” with the point of view: “This is just a thought, this is just a memory, this is just a feeling, this is just a sensation”, it looses its personal emotional sting. At the very least we can neutralize it to a certain degree. Because the whole nature of it is based upon our relationship to these things. For example, if you notice that something like physical pain comes along, and as soon as you say, “pain” or “it is me and my pain”, you get stuck with this dualistic relationship — me and my pain. And our usual way is trying to get rid of it: I want to get rid of my pain. Of course, it is quite absurd — how can I get rid of my pain, because it is me? – That sort of fight goes on.

But if we see it with awareness then it is a different story. First of all we are not identifying with it, “it’s my pain”. There is a particular sensation just happening in this time, at this place, and at one level that at least cuts off the memories and associations we have built up around it. And if a new “old” pain comes along, we would say it’s just like last time that happened. And so we get caught in this repeating the same old patterns based upon memories, not on what is happening right now — this moment, this particular sensation, at this particular place, in this particular state of mind..

..If we can have a more friendly attitude towards some of these things that we usually relate to as being negative or unpleasant, it changes the whole situation around. And the point is that what we defined as negative is relative to my point of view — my ego, in other words. So what happens is, when we meet some unpleasant situation, we say “Oh, I´ve got a problem”. As soon as we define it that way we have stopped, locked into and now solidified the whole flow of reality.

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