9/ Sum

To my limited knowledge classical Buddhist thinking holds a view that a great deal of suffering is caused by our conviction things ought to be different from how they are.  We spend a lot of time craving a thing that isn’t there in our lives, or driven by antipathy or aversion, try to remove something that is.        

To my equally limited knowledge, central to mindfulness is acceptance of what is - or a willingness to be with what is.  This contrasts sharply with states of mind that involve avoidance and control, seeking personal well-being through trying to alter circumstances, or through striving after goals.

Fundamental needs have to be met for survival.  Find-eat-mate-fight-take flight-shelter.....or die.  But it’s a step beyond an attempt to control or avoid risks that might prevent meeting basic needs to making an attempt at controlling wholesale the environment in which we live.   

I can see the futility of striving for total dominance over our environment.  Too much randomness. Too many variables beyond the reach of even the most egregious control freak, or painstaking risk assessor wary of litigation.  Such efforts terminate in an illusion that somehow we can be separate from our surroundings.  Placed spotlit in the foreground.  Environment as backdrop.  The inane bid to separate ourselves off from the rest of our planet, from the wilderness out there.  We live in nature, intimately interconnected.  There’s mud on the street.  Dust carried in the air.  Microbes are everywhere.  Even buried in the centre of the busiest city we are equally part of the diurnal round with rocks and stones and trees.

Through the practice of mindfulness I’m told we can learn to detach ourselves from this vain endeavour to avoid or command at will.  Mindful non-attachment sets out a way of attaining greater equanimity and ease; a route towards states that reflect a stable experience of well-being that is not reliant on circumstance. 

The transition towards such unconditional contentment can be realised fully only through a disengagement from self-concern, from constantly foregrounding all the perceptions, thoughts, beliefs we have about ourselves, the perpetual self-evaluations (usually abysmally negative), the related feelings that tend to channel and filter our contact with a wider reality, and do so in self-serving ways.

Mindfulness recommends a dose of healthy scepticism towards perspectives and interpretations that flow so easily from our inflated egos.

At least once in a while just let it go.

© Benog Brady Bates

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