Following an inner voice

How do geese know when to fly to the sun? Who tells them the seasons? How do we humans know when it is time to move on? As with the migrant birds, so surely with us, there is a voice within if only we would listen to it, that tells us certainly when to go forth into the unknown.

Elizabeth Kubler Ross

Being Dragged Around

We’re not certain about our own goodness. We begin to stray from it as soon as we wake up in the morning, because our mind is unstable and bewildered. Our thoughts drag us around by a ring in our nose, as if we were cows in the Indian market. This is how we lose control of our lives. We don’t understand that the origin of happiness is right here in our mind. We might experience happiness at times, but we’re not sure how we got it, how to get it again, or how long it’s going to last when it comes. We live life in an anxious, haphazard state, always looking for happiness to arrive.  When we are confused about the source of happiness, we start to blame the world for our dissatisfaction, expecting it to make us happy. Then we act in ways that bring more confusion and chaos into our life. When our mind is busy and discursive, thinking uncontrollably, we are engaging in a bad habit. We are stirring up the mud of jealousy, anger, and pride. Then the mind has no choice but to become familiar with the language of negativity and develop it further.

Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche

Seeing endings in a new light

Seeing beginnings and endings — the arising and passing away of all conditioned forms — is a vital step in developing the understanding that nothing exists apart from interdependent, cause-and-effect relationships. To see the beginnings and endings is also, in my experience, a great support in difficult times. Early on, as I began to trust in the fiber of my being that nothing lasts, I became less afraid of pain. The fact that everything has an end comforted me. “One way or another,” I would say to myself, “this too will pass.” I was glad I saw that. I didn’t think much, in those initial moments of insight, about how the pleasant things change as well as the difficult ones. I know that when I struggle with the pain of any loss, the struggle preoccupies my mind and leaves no room for hope. When I recognize the pain I feel as the legitimate result of loss, I am respectful of its presence and kind to myself. My mind always relaxes when it is kind, and around the edges of the truth of whatever has ended, I see displays of what might be beginning.

Sylvia Boorstein, How Endings Make Room for Beginnings

Another simple explanation

This practice is just about the mind and its feelings. It is not something that you have to run after or struggle for. Breathing continues while working. Nature takes care of the natural processes – all we have to do is try to be aware. Just to keep trying, going inwards to see clearly. Meditation is like this.

Ajahn Chah, Collected Teaching, The Peace Beyond

Seeing things as they really are

Through mindfulness we begin to realise that the pure nature of the mind is always with us, even now. Even though we might be agitated or irritated, if we are mindful we’ll experience a natural bliss beyond that. And once we realise that for ourselves, then we know how not to suffer. The end of suffering is in seeing things as they really are, so that our refuge isn’t in this reactive excited condition of the eyes and the ears and the nose, the tongue, the body, the brain, the emotions. In these are the conditions that are irritating, agitated. Through mindfulness we realise that which transcends these conditions. That is our real refuge. This we can realise as human beings through wise contemplation of our own personal predicament.

Ajahn Sumedho