When life is settled, it’s easy to feel stable. We don’t realize, at that time, how much clinging there is underneath that false stability. We cling to people and situations, to opinions, status and, of course, material objects – all of which are doomed to fail us. It’s in the nature of all things to be flickering and transient.
Stability is something the mind doesn’t know. The mind is a constant flow of thoughts, feelings, and emotional movements and, if we remain in an ordinary state, that is all there is. So it’s natural to feel upset or distraught when outer things become chaotic.
An alternative to this can be found in Buddhist teachings. The essence of the Dharma practice is to familiarize with the workings of our mind but in a rather different way than usual. We are supposed to watch it deeply, under the surface of thoughts and emotions, until we sense an underlying “evenness” that runs through unhappiness and happiness.
So, instead of trying to avoid suffering and seek happiness, we should observe the crystal like nature of awareness underlying every experience. As Thinley Norbu Rinpoche puts it:
“In this way, we get involved in a cycle of suffering and happiness. When involved in such feelings, we should constantly observe the nature and condition of the mind. So when we are happy, when a relationship breaks up, or when we are separated from our friends, we should observe the nature and condition of the mind.
Although we will still feel those emotions, we will also feel an evenness running through unhappiness and happiness. When happy, we will recognize emptiness through happiness, and when unhappy, we will recognize emptiness through unhappiness.
This practice is called the same taste of happiness and unhappiness.”
ECHOES – The Boudhanath Teachings THINLEY NORBU – Translated by William Koblensky – SHAMBHALA Publications Boulder · 2016