Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What actually causes our suffering?

Life gets simple when we deal with the truth, rather than the made up stories that perpetuate our delusions. Most of us are unaware that we live in stories rather than reality. We think only crazy people create a false reality and live in their perceptions or stories, but really everyone is doing that most of the time. Most people think that they are their thoughts, they have an image of who they are and a story about the past that they identify with. But have you ever practiced noticing thoughts?
Awareness is aware of thoughts as they arise. There is this awareness here, it is aware of the body, it is aware of feelings, stiffness in the body, it is aware of nature and the world all around, it is also aware of thoughts as they arise. Have you noticed that thoughts just arise? Do you believe that you are the creator of your thoughts? Can you predict what they next one will be? Or do you notice that they seem to arise on their own? Thoughts have a life of their own, you are the awareness that notices this..
So you could when a thought arises just notice it.. oh, there's a thought, there's another.. there's a cloud, a tree, a person, a thought.. noticing without much emotional investment in believing the thought.
It's just a thought, it's from the past, from conditioning, it is not reality, it's a story.
You may like the story or you may not, but when you see it as a story, a perspective, a viewpoint, then you are free because you are not solely identified with the thought, in bondage to the thought, the thought is not dictating your behavior and dragging you around like a dog on a leash. You are the awareness that notices the thought.
The best example I've heard of this is imagine that you are in a relationship and the other person ends the relationship. You could say "he left" or you could say "he left me, he never loved me, he used me, no one will ever love me, I'll be alone forever". So you can begin to notice what is and what your mind says about what is..

You can start to notice the difference between "what is" and the commentary of the mind about "what is".
This is not easy in the beginning, often we are convinced that commentary of the mind is reality.
Someone says something, the mind says, he is mean, selfish, inconsiderate. The mind immediately labels, judges, compares, basically takes the past, measures it and projects it on the now and often into the future.
See if you can make a list now of 5 situations in your life and write down first what is and second what your mind says about what is.

You can actually notice your conditioning, which is essentially the past as it arises. There is a conditioned belief, that's the past, it's just a notion, it's not true. Suddenly it loses it's power to move you, cause a reaction, create emotion, create drama and anguish.
Here are some thoughts that often cause reactivity - he/she should not be doing this, they should not be or should not have treated me this way, life should be different, etc..
Argue with reality to your own peril. Again we can notice what is and separate out our story about it.
The suffering is in the story, it is not caused by the situation but about what we tell ourselves about it.
So while we may not be able to do anything about what is happening, what others do, say, circumstances as they unfold. We can notice that our suffering is a direct result of the story we tell ourselves and in the noticing we can start the process of ending suffering.


  1. Thank you. I appreciate the reminder of how my thoughts create my reality. In this moment it is an important reminder to drop into the now...as I breath in and out.

  2. I woke up this morning with a driving urge to check recent offers on SkillShare. Now I know why. Your "5 situations" exercise was just what I needed to take control of the swirl of thoughts that I wrestled with while lying in bed. Thank you for helping me reframe my thoughts and put them in a reality-based perspective. I will now enjoy this perfectly lovely day.