Friday, July 20, 2012

Mindfulness – the door to daily self-discovery

“The Buddha calls his Dhamma ehipassiko, which means "Come and see for yourself." He invites inquirers to investigate his teaching, to examine it in the light of their own reason and intelligence, and to gain confirmation of its truth for themselves. The Dhamma is said to be paccattam veditabbo viññuhi, "to be personally understood by the wise," and this requires intelligence and sustained inquiry” (

Venerable Thubten Chodron advised us to be thankful to our enemy as they are kinder that the Buddha in teaching us the Dhamma. Ajahn Brahm advised us to take all the events that happen to us (whether good or bad) as fertilizer for our practice. Most meditation retreats I went to have a constant theme, which is to be patience with irritability of the body and mind. Those teachings contributed to a self-discovery this morning.

While boarding the bus this morning a person blocked the way toward the back of the bus, I was irritated but managed to catch my emotion before it escalated to anger. During the journey I reflected what caused those unskilful emotion, I found out that I get anger when I am in a rush so the way to avoid anger is not to rush but it is not useful since there will be external events outside my control. I searched deeper and found that while rushing, irritation arises and it is this irritation to the situation that cause me to get angry. Since irritation is an internal formation, it is a better strategy to manage the internal since I have some level of control.

The discovery was interesting since I did not notice this link before, most of what I notice is the bigger emotion (e.g. anger, hatred, lust, aversion etc), I concluded that irritation may be too subtle and I am not mindful most of the time. In meditation, we are taught to be mindful with the coarse object first (e.g. the sensation of the body) since the mind may be too subtle. I use a mind-body connection technique that allows me to notice my emotion from the reaction of my body and I can “catch” my emotion most of the time. The interesting theory is that when a person gets familiar with mindfulness they will come a time when subtle emotion or thoughts are noticeable before, during and after they arises.

I asked myself further:
1) Does an emotion lead to another emotion? If yes, what is the link?
2) Does emotions come together and feed on each other, resulting in a stronger emotional feeling / reaction?

From my experience I experienced that emotion does lead from one to another and emotion will come together and feed upon each other, at which time a person is loss in thoughts and filled with many emotion, they will likely be creating story-line of what should or should not happen to them.

I made another interesting self-discovery at this point. I was thinking about point (1) when the Chinese character for irritation appeared in my mind, and I think the Chinese ancestors is really smart. Chinese language originated as a pictorial language, that is, the symbols are like picture. The Chinese word for irritation is fan () or zao (), both of those words is made up of the fire character and (in my view) another character that can be viewed as a fluid source. (fire) (leaf), 燥 = 火(fire)+喿 (chirping of birds, i.e. Sound or noise), the ancestors might have thought that irritation will give rise to a fiery emotion. This makes me wonder if we can use languages as a way to explore the link between emotions.

Well, those are the two things I learn about my mind today. In the end the Buddha can only show the way, we have to walk the path and realised the fruits ourselves, so I invite you to ehipassiko.

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