The next two forces in the mind
have tremendously deep roots; they are very powerfully conditioned
in us. As you study them, you’ll see how much they influence
you both in your meditation practice and in your life. When you
understand these two forces clearly, you see that not only do they
obstruct the development of concentration and wisdom, but are in
some fundamental way two of the root causes of suffering in our
Aversion, a mind-state that often looms large in our lives, manifests
in a variety of ways. Feelings of anger, hatred, fear, sorrow,
ill will, annoyance, irritation or a judging mind all arise when
we come into contact with something that’s unpleasant.
Just as the untrained mind becomes entranced by pleasant feelings,
we become dissatisfied with, angry at, or fearful of unpleasant
ones. When we’re not mindful of unpleasant experiences — in
the body, in the mind, or in our
environment — aversion arises.
Before you begin studying aversion, reflect on aversion
in your life and practice. Aversion, ill-will, anger,
fear, irritation... How do these manifest? What is
your relationship to them? Do they rule you, frighten
you, empower you? Identify the triggers and your
Aversion to pain and discomfort
Aversion is easy observe in relationship to physical pain and
discomfort. After sitting some time, the body might start
to feel uncomfortable.
What’s your first reaction to pain? Is it
the same for discomfort?
Generally, we don’t like pain. It’s a rare person
who when the pain comes says, “Oh good, a chance to explore
pain.” So when pain arises, we can begin to notice
the strategies we use for dealing with it. It might be a kind of
self-pity, or fear, or just plain dislike.
On a more subtle level aversion works when we’re opening
to the pain, we’re softening into it, but we’re
still interpreting it in certain ways.
Are you practicing in order for something to happen?
Does your mindfulness
have an agenda?
Our concepts condition our experience.
Our concepts about experience often condition
the experience itself, although we’re not aware of it. I
thought I was being mindful of the energy block I experienced,
but the concept of block already contains desire and aversion,
something that shouldn’t be there, something to be changed
into something else. Even though I thought I was being mindful,
it was mindfulness with an agenda and not true bare attention to
what was happening.
Mindfulness is the mirror-like quality of the mind, which
simply knows what is present. In the context of meditation,
there was tightness, pressure, pulling — those were the sensations
that were present. If I had really been mindful, there simply
would have been that mirror-like awareness knowing tightness, knowing
pressure, knowing pulling, without any preference for one sensation
rather than another. This is an example of how the concepts
we use to understand our experience can often condition how we’re
relating to the experience.