2021-07-07 Vedanā (3 of 5) Inner Pleasure with Non-reactivity
4:58PM Jul 8, 2021
Continuing on this series, talking about the Verdana, the Pali word for feeling or feeling tone. And it's the feeling tone has to do with this subjective experience, that the nature of our experience, so that when we feel something physical, say we feel the warmth of the sun, that certainly their their senses are activated. Maybe you can say on the surface of the skin, just for the sake of the thought exercise. But the feeling is a little bit deeper inside, because it's the interaction of this sensation, a little bit with our response to read our evaluation or perception of it. And so it isn't just pleasant in and of itself. But there is some degree of it is also our, how we receive it, how we meet it. And so it's considered to be more subjective. And so we would begin by going at the physical level at, like at this skin level, with feeling tone, we're going a little bit deeper inside, into what's more subjective, it's, it's something that only we experience mean, if somebody else might experience the warmth that is standing next to us, but only we the, you know, have our own experience of that subjective experience of, of the warmth. And it might be a little bit different than the person next to us. Because as the warmth, the it's our skin and is felt subjectively, the subjective nature of it is partly this interaction with our mentality or history or associations, our responses to it, and the person next to us has a whole other set of those. So we're starting to get into something very personal, subjective. And we're beginning to make a movement deeper and deeper into this inner life. And this is one of the channels into it. So the feeling tones are pleasant, unpleasant, or neither pleasant or unpleasant. And, and it's, it's simplistic because every experience can be, has these simple qualities to it. Of course, pleasant can be a wide range of things from just a mild sense of comfort to intense ecstasy, the unpleasant can be again, mild discomfort, to extreme, you know, pain. And so there's a whole range, but to reduce it to this very simple label are pleasant and unpleasant, or the literal poly is more like, happy and, and painful is, is Mexico and make things a lot simpler, and help us become free or more simply. So if you go into a social situation, that's very uncomfortable, people are arguing and, and all kinds of terrible things are happening. And you know, in this conversation at a party, for example, or something, I'd work at a meeting. And, and to try to figure out what's going on and to understand the details and what you have to do. And it gets very complicated. But to take a moment and recognize this is unpleasant. I know how to be with unpleasant things. When things are unpleasant, I can just kind of open up and be still and quiet and just feel the unpleasantness. I don't have to be reactive to it. I know how to be nonreactive, which is just unpleasant, it's intensely unpleasant. And simplifying it to that level, free of the drama and the stories of all connected can be a given Avenue a doorway, into relaxing and opening up and finding our balance getting grounded in the situation that might be faster than trying to you know navigate the situation in order to, to feel that same things with things are very pleasant. Oh, this is pleasant. And I know about pleasantness and I know how to be present for to experiencing it without leaning into it and without chasing after it or something just allowing it to be there and feel it. And this is a very powerful thing to do if you want to start becoming free in the midst of your experience.
And there's a number of ways you can kind of experiment with this depending how motivated you are How far you want to take some of these things. One of the things that I did in my early years of Buddhist practice was that when I had an occasion to feel pain, like for example, I was, I was working on a farm at the Zen center, or different kinds of physical work that I have to do. Some of it was painful. For example, I remember having to carry heavy objects for long distance. And after a while, it hurt little bit, though, carry this heavy object. And so I made it an exercise that did not to hurt myself. But to see where can I find equanimity with a pain Where can I find non reactivity with a pain, just to feel it clearly recognize it's there, but, but not get reactive to it and not take it personally not have pity for myself or get angry at the situation around me just to feel the simplicity of the pain. So I wasn't intentionally hurting myself. But when these things occurred, I would take them as my practice. Until it felt like it was no longer appropriate than that I put the thing down that I was carrying, or whatever it was. Another thing that a place to discover, if you're motivated, that I think is generally generally probably pretty safe is is to take cold showers. And see if you can stand under the stream of the cold shower, and find your equanimity, find your non reactivity, find your ability just to breathe easily and calmly and feel the cold going to go going over your body and not cringe and not pull back and not complain and not feel panic, at the cold just go and it might take a while to kind of be able to stand there and just feel the cold. And, and so this is unpleasant. But But then, you know, okay, I know how to be here. And, and in the process of doing that you might not get to some wonderful result. But you'll learn a lot about your reactivity. And maybe you'll learn to kind of settle and quiet some of the reactivity around the cold shower. And these things you're working with pain working with, with the cold showers, for example, is a training to really kind of understand our reactivity to understand the option of non being non reactive. And in fact, some things that they're initially we know very feels we would subjectively say are very unpleasant, can actually shift and become pleasant. I've done this exercise with a cold showers. And after a while, some time I learned to relax and relax and relax, I came to really enjoy it felt that it was actually felt pleasant to take cold showers. But I needed to have the body begin to relax and soften and, and be there. But it isn't so much to you know have a life of cold showers, but to use that to learn about how we can relax and open. And because what's more important, more important in terms of Dharma practice, we're with time we're connecting to something that's deeper than physical pleasure of any kind at all, deeper than the kind of pleasure that is not even pleasure anymore. But rather, it's a deeper sense of well being or happiness to the people who can make a distinction between pleasure and happiness. That's happiness that can be there even when things are unpleasant. We're opening to the kind of pleasure that's considered wholesome, a kind of pleasure that is not connected to directly to our senses being stimulated, isn't because something nice is touching our skin, our tongue, our eyes, our nose, our ears, to pleasant sound, for example. It's also because not because the world out there is telling us things which are pleasant for us to hear if someone says, oh, you're such a wonderful person, you're like the best person. You're great.
That is kind of an external stimuli, which is stimulating something that you know are conceit or something. But there's a well being that can well up from the inside. That is not because anything is being stimulated by stimuli from the outside, or stimuli from the inside if we're telling yourself stories or fantasies or something. And so to discover this place to open to relax to be nonreactive not for the purpose of being nonreactive so much, but to make room to start sensing and feeling the well being, that the pleasure that is not of the senses. And, and so this distinction between of the senses and not of the senses is a little bit my vocabulary. But that distinction is there in the Buddhist teachings on mindfulness practice. At some point as we start prep continue to practice with is that another feeling tone, that is to begin differentiating between a wholesome pleasure wholesome well being, and that which is could still be wholesome. There's a distinction and of the senses and not of the senses. And this wholesome, sensate, wholesome experience of not of the senses, is something we open to. And then if we really discover this, then we carry our well being with us. Wherever we go, we're not so dependent on the conditions around us be just right. So that we feel at ease and feel peaceful. So this, you know, dramatic exercise of standing in the cold shower. It's not so that you can learn to stand in the cold shower. It's to learn how to release and relax the reactivity we have to unpleasantness. And then to discover that that non reactivity gives us access to open and read and connect to something quite precious and beautiful. Something that feeling may be of abundance, or goodness or, or warmth or safety that lives within. And I'll talk more about this tomorrow and then tell you a bit more about the Buddha's languages of it. But so some people are very oriented towards their senses, sense stimuli stimulating them. And, and there's a whole other way to go through the life, which is deeper and fuller and more profound, more sublime, which is this welling up from the inside out. That's not dependent and outside in. And that's one of the purposes of meditation is to discover that. So thank you. So I'll continue tomorrow.