2021-07-08 Vedanā (4 of 5) Feelings with and without Clinging
5:46PM Jul 8, 2021
For this fourth talk on vedana, feeling tones, we have a capacity to recognize the when things are pleasant, when things are unpleasant, and when they're neither pleasant or unpleasant. If we don't recognize it, sometimes if we do, then there can be this underlying tendencies, these habits of mind or drives of the mind, that can pick up kind of almost automatically, maybe even take over. So when there's in the presence of something that's pleasant, there can be strong desire that can be desire wanting in the presence of something which is unpleasant, there can be aversion, there can be pushing away there can be not wanting it. And in the presence of what is neither pleasant or unpleasant, there can be confusion, there can be delusion, partly because if we're very oriented to looking for what's pleasant and unpleasant, and that's kind of, you know, for some people a fundamental orientation to find their way in their world, always looking for pleasure. In fact, I think for some people who practice mindfulness and really started seeing what is operating in their minds and the hearts when they go through the world, it can be quite an embarrassment or a shock to discover how much we're motivated by pleasant and unpleasant and how much we react to that and search for it. And then we can appreciate when things are neither pleasant or unpleasant, there can be confusion, not sure which way to go or what to do. Or there can be delusion, where we kind of make up fantasies, to fill in the gap, the kind of the vacuum, of fantasies of, you know, pleasant fantasies, unpleasant fantasies, kind of to fill it in and make it understandable. So these fundamental drives, these underlying tendencies can get triggered can be awakened, or kind of waiting in the wing, ready to step up. If in the presence of what's pleasant, unpleasant, or neither. If we can be aware of things being pleasant and unpleasant, or neither really be aware of this clear recognition talked about recently, the clear recognition that clear comprehension appears is pleasant. It makes things a lot simpler, not to be simplistic or reductionistic. But it gives us a very realistic and helpful kind of kind of perspective that helps us to to leave pleasant and unpleasant alone, and not have the automatic underlying tendencies kick in and move along. And so, you know, situations can be quite complicated. And if we try to react and respond and figure out the complication of it, we might actually get pulled in and the desires and aversions kind of get a habit of the end and a sense to start operating. By making it very simple. Oh, that's an unpleasant situation that's uncomfortable. Sometimes it's we don't get pulled in are sucked in, in such a way that the desires and aversions is kind of maybe sneak in through the back door. And so Oh, it's, it's unpleasant. If we can see it clearly. Then there's a way in which that seek clear seeing doesn't make room for the underlying tendencies to come and get involved. Or if they arise. It's so clear that they're there that you know, we don't have to do anything without leave it alone. There's a desire for more if some pleasant as you see it, it's just a desire, or there's aversion to something unpleasant. It's just an aversion. For some of us desires are a dime a dozen. For others of us. aversions are a dime a dozen. But if we're an automatic pilot, or give ourselves over or give ourselves up or, you know, gives yield constantly to desire and aversion. It's an exhausting life. And it's not a free life. So to begin to kind of clearly recognize what this is. Pleasant This is unpleasant. And not having, you know, not having a backdoor open for desire and aversion or confusion or delusion, to operate, to come in and sweep us away, is one of the very powerful things about this. And
end, as we don't get swept away as desires and aversions don't get desires, desires here is more like compulsive desires don't take over, then there starts to be space for non desire, non aversion, non clinging, non grasping, non pushing away non hostility. And that space that opens up is a pleasant space. That space is, is a feeling is a place where the there starts to be breathing room for our inner life. breathing room for other energies or forces are sentiments to begin appearing and bubbling up. You know, it allows for equanimity to be there. And equanimity is not a neutral thing. It comes with a very strong sense of well being when it's strong when it's strong. There's room for generosity, room for kindness and love. There's room for delight and joy and appreciation. There's so much more room for these good qualities in the heart, when there's no clinging and no grasping on things. And so the Buddha made a distinction between those feeling feeling tones, which come along with this compulsive desires and aversions and confusions and delusions we have, that there's part and parcel of it. You know, if I win the California Lottery, and I have a lot of greed for that, I could be very happy or joyful or delighted for a while. But it's a joy that comes with a strong perhaps, attachment clinging to wealth, and all the fantastic things I can do with it. And, and, you know, I've, I've read that they've done studies of people who win lotteries, and a year after the lot, they won this big pots of money, they're actually less happy than they were before. So how much how much do we hope we put into goes along with compulsive desire and aversion that is going to fix us to do something and it doesn't. So the the alternative is to let go into this non clinging and there is a joy and delight and pleasantness pleasant experiences that come with that. And so the Buddha makes a distinction between these two kinds of pleasantness and two kinds of unpleasantness. The unpleasantness of letting go, is that, to know that there is more letting go to do, and sometimes they feel a longing or feel kind of like something's not quite right here, it's a little unpleasant to still feel that I'm contracted and tight. Because I know something now, but freedom. And, and so making that distinction is between the feeling tones that arise from that that are associated with clinging, and the feeling tones that are associated with non clinging. The Buddha refers to a few different ways. One way is literally, he says, The first is of the flesh, and the other is not of the flesh. And I think how I interpret that is that of the flesh means that places where all our ordinary sense, apparatus are operating, touch and taste and seeing and hearing, that our senses are stimulated. And not of the flesh means that something that wells up from within that happens independent of what's happening in our environment, and independent of what's happening with our, you know, what's feeding or impacting our conceit or the mental attachments we have. So if our mental attachments are challenged or supported, there can be a kind of inner well being, it's not of the senses, but it's the mental sense. Then it's operating. Something's being stimulated like that. There's a beautiful quality welling up inside. It almost feels like that's not of the flesh. It almost feels like it's there for no reason. Just a natural kind of feels almost like a natural wellspring of life or something there for causes and conditions. But it has this feeling of being almost, you know, free of the ordinary cause and conditions of our life. And so we'll call it of the flesh and not other flesh. Some translators will translate it as worldly and not worldly. unworldly, which seems a little odd. Some people do worldly and spiritual.
But I liked it through they flesh it out of the flesh. Another way that Buddha's talked about it is he talked about it is the they had another feeling tones associated with domestic life. And that was associated with the renunciant life. And that usually doesn't work very well and English speaking modern audience. But if we understand the domestic life is, you know, on the surface of it perhaps, is often involved with all kinds of sensual pursuits. And the most clear his association with sexual desire is sex with domestic life, and you know, that there's a lot of concerns of sexuality. The renunciant life is not so concerned with sexuality and but then it's a pursuit of all kinds of pleasures and domestic life that keeps us busy, sometimes keeps us with so busy, we don't have time to meditate. Whereas a renunciant life is not pursuing sensual pleasures for pursuing something a deeper pleasure, does not have the senses not of the world. And the word renunciant has a kind of maybe negative connotations for some English speakers. But the Pali word probably has a very different Association, in the minds of the ancient people. And, and maybe we could call it a sacred life. There's the domestic life and the sacred life. And maybe it's unfortunate to make a distinction between those two, there doesn't have to be a distinction to that console's concepts of the sacred life can be found in the domestic life. But the real thing that Buddha's pointing to is the pleasures that pleasant, unpleasant experiences we have, that are associated with clinging, and those which are associated with non clinging, non grasping. And those who are non grata come out of non grasping, are more reliable, more enduring. They're the ones that are more nourishing for something deep inside, they're deeply satisfying, that if you've never tasted that, it's hard to understand why they're so deeply satisfying. And it feels so good to have access to something inside that is not dependent on the world being just right. Everybody behaving in the way that you think they should treat you. And, and to know something about the deep sense of freedom that can come with non clinging and the pleasantness of that, where pleasantness seems just too trite, or to me that seems minimalistic, or reductionistic, or How marvelous a wonderful experience pay experience of inner freedom can be. So So this distinction, and to be attuned to this distinction between pleasures are both clinging and pleasures that involve non clinging helps us to find our way. It's meant to be inspiring, to help us find more and more freedom and not get caught in our twinning. So thank you. And maybe for the next 24 hours, you might see if that distinction is something you can feel in your own experience, the pleasure of that comes with long with clinging and that which doesn't. So thank you