Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost... I am hopeless.
It isn't my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.
         
Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don't see it.
I fall in again.
I can't believe I am in this same place.
But it isn't my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.
         
 Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in... it's a habit... but,
my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.
         
 Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.
         
Chapter V
I walk down another street.
         
- Portia Nelson

Quotes I like...

"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people’s business." -- Eric Hoffer
"Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value". --Albert Einstein

"You should never let your fears prevent you from doing what you know is right". --Aung San Suu Kyi
"If I advocate for cautious optimism, it is not because I do not have faith, but because I do not want to encourage blind faith". --Aung San Suu Kyi

"I think, if you have enough inner resources, then you can live in isolation for long periods of time and not feel diminished by it". --Aung San Suu Kyi
"If you are feeling helpless, help someone". --Aung San Suu Kyi

"Its name is Public Opinion. It is held in reverence. It settles everything. Some think it is the voice of God". --Mark Twain
“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.
When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need.” --The Tao Te Ching
“We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to accept the life that is waiting for us.” --Joseph Campbell
 “Sometimes letting go is an act of far greater power than defending or hanging on.” -- Eckhart Tolle
<more to come>...

Make it a routine

If something is very important to you, include that in your routine because we don't have vacillating/negotiating thoughts over routine things
(eg: brushing your teeth - do you have second thoughts about not brushing? Probably not. It’s just something you do.)

Beneficial things that can be included in routine (at a fixed time):
- Morning, when alarm goes off: getting up.
- Sitting for meditation: dropping the stories.
- Night: evaluating your patterns (mind, speech, action) from the day and see if they fit well with your goal.

Do you care what people think about you?

"I don't care about what people think about me!"... I used to say

I made myself believe I don't care. But I realised that we all do!

But WHY?
(why do we want to be understood/accepted/liked/loved by people?)

WHY?
Who am I?
What is that "part of me" that is mine, which is accused?

When I am totally a conditioned being (subject to cause and effect):
- my body being conditioned,
- my feelings being conditioned,
- my perception being conditioned,
- my thoughts being conditioned,
- my consciousness being conditioned... There is NO REAL ME (I am constantly changing according to conditions)

When I cant be proud of:
- my beauty, which is not intrinsic but just conventional (animals wont find humans beautiful),
- my intelligence, which is the result of developing the mind and investigating,
- my wisdom, which is conditioned,
- my generosity, which is conditioned,
- my skills, which is conditioned,
- my creativity, which is conditioned,
- my attitude, which is conditioned,... There is NO REAL ME (I am constantly changing according to conditions)...

I intellectually understand that there is no self (anatta) but still I care what people think about me!!!
I don't know why!!!

 

Q - For maximum happiness in THIS life, can I go on enjoying whatever I possibly can?

Question:
If I don't believe in next life and if my aim is just to enjoy this life to the maximum, isn't the best way to increase happiness (& to reduce suffering) is to go on enjoying sensual things? I know, whatever arises, ceases (all is impermanent) but when it ceases, I can replace it with some other sensual object and keep replacing it till I die in order to enjoy this life to the maximum. Isn't it? Why did Buddha say that it is dukkha in this life too!?


Answer:
Can we enjoy something, without feeling bad about losing it? No! right?

If we try to relish/enjoy the pleasant feeling (generated by coming in contact with the object), craving/clinging develops subsequently. Because of this clinging, we are bound to feel displeasure of losing it.

This is why happiness from sensual pleasures is dangerous like a snake - It can turn back and bite us anytime.  

 

 
The amount of displeasure when we lose the object is proportionate to the amount of clinging (more we relish the pleasurable feeling, more is the clinging) we had when we had the object. So, we try to suppress the displeasure by pursuing another object which is more pleasurable than the previous one, and the stimulus required to feel pleasurable or to supress displeasure goes on incrementing. This makes us very vulnerable as we get displeased easily and pleased with much effort.
This is why happiness from sensual pleasures is dangerous like fire - when we put ghee (i.e. sense pleasure) into the fire (i.e. craving), the fire initially subsides for a short while (i.e. temporarily subsiding of suffering) and then flares up more than before (i.e. increased craving for sense pleasure). And it gets harder to subside as it grows more and more; in speed and in intensity.

 
Unconditioned happiness which can be found here and now (without conditions) is much better to experience. When we have even the slightest taste of it, our confidence that unconditioned happiness is worth pursuing over conditioned happiness, increases. The experience of freedom from sensual pleasures is far better than freedom of sensual pleasures.

Life didn't come with a instruction-manual

Training our minds in right direction, we are sometimes confused about what to do in what scenario. We want to know all the steps to follow for all the possibilities that can exist.
But mind is very dynamic (dependent on varied causes/condition which are ever changing), so there are countess possibilities. Therefore, its good to have a attitude of EXPERIMENTATION. We might not know which button to press exactly in all situations, but we learn in the process. We learn what CAUSES lead to which EFFECTS and how changing the causes change the effects. Important is to always keep the observer (mindfulness) intact while doing the experiment.

Like someone asked: "what do I do when I get angry - Thought Substitution/Observing Feeling?"
Well, it doesn't matter so much what you apply, as much as if mindfulness is fully intact, you will learn something or the other.
eg: from Thought Substitution: You see cause-effect (how changed thoughts lead to changed result) and thus are not-self.
eg: from Observing Feeling: You notice feelings are impermanence and not-self.
eg: from Observing Body: You learn about how mind and body are interconnected and interdependent.
eg: from analysing the cause of anger: You might see where your attachment lies.
eg: from Observing thoughts and poking your self a question- 'from where did I get this way of thinking?': You might see how your thoughts are conditioned by people, society, culture, media, your habitual patters of thinking you have developed, your assumptions of reality, etc.
...When you get good at this, you can even start playing with your thoughts, by replacing them with thoughts that are more aligned with the reality and see the effects it has on feelings, body, etc.

So, its not about "knowing beforehand" what to apply to our minds, but working with our mind real-time, tending to what our mind needs at that time. It is similar to how we read the child and see the situation before deciding how to deal with him/her: you are liberal at times while strict when needed; one way of dealing/strategy doesn't suit at all times.

Personally, when my mind goes of control, I have tried following the steps mentioned in Vitakkasanthana sutta which have proved very beneficial (1st & 2nd step: replacing with opposite skilful thoughts and recalling dangers in unskilful thoughts, has often halted the unskilful process from acceleration. And then I quickly follow 3rd & 4th step: of paying no mind and remove myself from trigger/source). Then when I am in a controllable situation, I gather my mindfulness to observe/investigate anything that I think would be relevant at that situation. If I see thoughts are overpowering, I don't investigate them. The very fact the thoughts are overpowering means that my mind is full of delusion. So if I investigate from that state of mind, I will only condition my thinking further in a wrong direction. So, I observe other objects of mindfulness (as described in satipatthana). In case of anger, changes in body are very apparent and therefore very interesting to observe. So, we can choose the most apparent/interesting thing to observe at that moment which captures our attention. Its easy to maintain our attention on something that is apparent/interesting to us. On the other hand, always deciding beforehand what to observe when this or that emotion arises, would be very constraining/limiting if not forcing/supressing.