Looking at fear and regret

One question every ‘seeker’ needs to ask themselves is what their motivation is for finding truth, awakening or whatever label we prefer. Truth is simply the way it is. How could it be anything else? If we’re trying to escape suffering, avoid unpleasant mind states or find some blissed out mode of being, then we’re still working from a position of trying to please a ‘self’; trying to create a world that accords with our preferences.

But what is is simply what is. Realising the truth in this moment isn’t about escaping, or hiding. It’s not about bypassing or becoming indifferent. It’s about being fully aware in the moment but seeing within this that any apparent separation, any division of subject/object, any sense of a ‘me’ and ‘everything else’ is a habit in thought; and critically, realising these thoughts are not real. They’re just a process taking place; they come, they go. We don’t need to believe in them.

In fact when we see clearly the way it is in the moment, and we see thoughts are just an unimportant commentary, which usually adds nothing of value, there is a great relief to be found in just this, just seeing this much.

Whatever we remember of the past, all our stories from which we build this imagined identity, are just thoughts. Not real. Whatever event they relate to, in that moment, we acted or responded as we did. The results of this are to be found in the present, in this moment, we don’t need to go into thought to find them.

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Similarly, all our imaginings about the future are just another set of thoughts. We play these stories over and over in our heads, varying the details, exploring alternative endings, and at the same time missing, almost completely what’s happening right now.

This moment is the only experience we have. This moment is the only place we can act. If our thoughts about the future tend towards negative outcomes and worries, then this will always create stress and anxiety because we can’t do anything about those events until they become the present.

It’s in our nature to get lost in such thoughts but as soon as we realise this, as soon as we notice we’ve become wrapped up in some story in thought, then all we have to do is bring attention back to this moment. Ask yourself, how does it feel right now? What is the experience right now, and engage with that.

So past and future are really only thoughts. They have no objective reality. But it’s into these stories in thought that we project a ‘self’ or ‘me’ that can act and engage with imagined events. These are the stories of a ‘me’ that reinforce our sense of self. In the present this sense of there being a self is much weaker and less substantial. And when we’re fully engaged in some activity in the moment, be that a piece of art or in meditation, or simply being mindful as we walk, we may notice there is virtually no sense of self at all.

So this path, if it’s a path at all, is simply about seeing how it is in the moment and making nothing from that. When we’re looking in this way we see that the experience of this moment is an experience of change. All is changing, all is moving. When this is seen without resistance, without creating stories about it in thought and attaching to these, then there is freedom, and the peace that comes from not having to make it any other way than the way it is.

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