November 10, 2007

Thoughts and Feelings

A lot of people hold the assumption that the objective of meditation practice is to stop having thoughts and feelings. More specifically, that a "good" meditation session is one in which no thoughts or feelings arise. This is a mistake.

What is life? Life is what we experience. What do we experience? Thoughts, feelings, and sensations. Why try to get rid of two thirds of our life? People who have no thoughts are stupid. People who have no feelings are Vulcans.

Emotions and thoughts are not the problem, it is patterns, or rather the unthinking following of patterns, that is the problem. When you learn to experience emotions and thoughts AS emotions and thoughts, rather than getting lost in the illusory world they project -- that is freedom.

At some point the meditator begins to identify that a great deal of suffering seems to come from our thoughts and feelings rather than from an external "reality". This is a start, but we need to look deeper. How does suffering arise? Is it a "thing" that is somehow attached to certain thoughts and feelings? If not, then where does it come from?

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