Welcome to the beginning of our third week together! As you recommit to your intention for practice, here are some helpful words just posted on Tara Brach’s Facebook page:
It is helpful to start your meditation with a reflection on what matters to you. Some meditation students bring to mind an all-encompassing aspiration, while others focus on a particular intention for the sitting or the day. For instance, you might connect with your aspiration for loving fully or decide to embrace whatever difficult emotions arise during your practice. You might aspire to the truth— to really see what is happening and what is real— or you might have the particular intention to recognize and let go of thoughts. When you begin by asking your heart what matters, you are already on the path to presence.
This week, we’ll continue exploring feeling, and then move into mind states.
Chapter 7 of The Four Foundations of Mindfulness in Plain English is titled “Harmful and Beneficial Feelings”. Bhante Gunaratana writes:
As we improve our ability to recognize the variety of sensations and emotions within the aggregate of feelings, we can also become mindful of the habits or tendencies that are their underlying causes. Three are essential: Some pleasant feelings have greed, desire, or craving as their underlying tendency. Some unpleasant feelings have anger or hatred as their underlying tendency. And some neutral feelings are rooted in ignorance or confusion.
These three negative tendencies – greed, hatred, and ignorance – are sometimes called the “three poisons“.
Bob Stahl gave a talk at the Insight Meditation South Bay about the three poisons, and three antidotes:
You can listen to to the talk here:
or read a brief summary:
We continue to practice and notice pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings arise and pass away. We notice these default tendencies that arise quite naturally. Joseph Goldstein writes:
[Feelings] will arise naturally in the course of our lives. Buy by noticing and being mindful of what kind of feeling it is, we learn to recognize more clearly the underlying tendencies of the worldly feelings — desire, aversion, and delusion — and through mindfulness practice, abandon those those tendencies.
What I find encouraging about these instructions is that we start by simply noticing. We don’t have to feel that it’s “wrong” to experience greed, hatred, or ignorance – it’s something that naturally comes up due to many causes and conditions. But by bringing in mindfulness, we have the ability to lessen the grip of these tendencies, and make more skillful choices.
Tempel Smith led a guided meditation, where he invites us to consider pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral feelings:
and he gave a bit of a talk with some discussion after:
With best wishes,