Conditioned to Believe

อาจารย์ จันทสิริ

Conditioned to Believe

I find it interesting to contemplate the sense of gladness and joy when thinking about this time together - and then noticing too the slight sense of sorrow, a kind of longing in the heart, at the thought of separating.

Sometimes we can think that this is wrong - that we shouldn’t feel sad. If we were true Buddhists, we would be completely dispassionate. There would be none of these untidy emotions that arise when we don’t want them and which we think shouldn’t be there.

But as I’ve said, my sense is that the Buddhist practice is actually a lot more subtle than simply not feeling things. When we talk about dispassion, letting go or equanimity, my own understanding is that it’s much more about not minding what we feel, not struggling with it. If we’re feeling glad and happy, we notice that. If we feel sorrow and grief, we notice that. If we feel really irritable and angry and confused, we notice that too; we allow that into consciousness.

When we’re growing up, we’re generally taught about what it’s okay to feel and what we shouldn’t feel. For example, in Britain when children are growing up, boys tend to be told that they shouldn’t cry. It’s all right for girls to cry, but not boys, and certainly not for grown men to cry. We’re also we’re told that we shouldn’t express anger - at least, that was part of my upbringing.

And there are probably many other things that we’re conditioned to believe are either okay or not okay; so we can become very skilled at repressing, just pushing down the things that are not okay, keeping them under tight control.

However, coming on a retreat is an opportunity for the mind and body to relax, so we can experience all kinds of things, even during a short retreat like this. I think we all need encouragement to not worry about any of it, but simply allow things into consciousness as a very natural process and then to let them go. Some people call it ‘brain-washing’ - not in the usual sense in which that word is used - but more allowing ourselves to observe, to notice all the repressed things as they arise in consciousness so that then we can let them go.

This reflection by Ajahn Candasiri is from the book, Simple Kindness, (pdf) pp. 112-113.