The reacting mind

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Let’s suppose that rain washes out a picnic. Who is feeling negative? The rain? Or YOU? What’s causing the negative feeling? The rain or your reaction? When you bump your knee against a table, the table’s fine. It’s busy being what it was made to be – a table. The pain is in your knee, not in the table. The mystics tell us that reality is all right. Reality is not problematic. Problems exist only in the human mind. Reality is not problematic. Take away human beings from this planet and life would go on, nature would go on in all its loveliness and violence. Where would the problem be? No problem. You created the problem. You are the problem. You identified with “me” and that is the problem. The feeling is in you, not in reality. 

Anthony de Mello, sj.

photo andreas duess

It better happen this way

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Every day, we give precedence to our mind’s thoughts over the reality unfolding before us. We regularly say things like, “It better not rain today because I’m going camping” or “I better get that raise because I really need the money.” Notice that these bold claims about what should and shouldn’t be happening are not based on scientific evidence; they’re based solely on personal preferences made up in our minds. Without realizing it, we do this with everything in our lives — it’s as though we actually believe that the world around us is supposed to manifest in accordance to our own likes and dislikes. If it doesn’t, surely something is very wrong. This is an extremely difficult way to live, and it is the reason we feel that we are always struggling with life.

Michael SInger, The Surrender Experiment

photo Irish Defense Forces

…and not recognizing

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An ancient tale tells how Karamita met the Buddha but did not recognize him. He asked the “stranger” to explain the Buddha’s teachings to him, but did not like them. He then asked him if he had actually ever heard these ideas directly from the Buddha’s lips himself, to which the Buddha with a smile, answered no. Ajahn Amaro comments on this episode:

Ajahn Chah often said that this is a position we often find ourselves in – face to face with the Buddha, sharing a room together, spending hours and hours in deep conversation and not realizing who this is. The truth of life is staring us in the face, but because we have already got programmed with something else that we want and expect, we are missing out on the lessons that life is actually able to teach us.

Ajahn Amaro, Silent Rain

photo alex proimos


Not really present…

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I feel a little alarmed when it happens that I have entered a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit. What business have I in the woods if I am thinking of something outside the woods?

Thoreau, quoted in Writing Nature: Henry Thoreau’s Journal

photo james petts