Q: What do these moments feel like, when you actually experience insight?
A: It’s not like a major fireworks experience where everything is suddenly just blown apart. For me it can be very simple, just suddenly noticing a habitual way of the mind seeing things. You contact the world, and suddenly you see the dukkha and you know. You just see the experience of tension and the tanha (craving) behind it. You can experience both the wanting, and then the relaxing into that experience and allowing it to just be there. You see that you can stop acting on it.
When it becomes clear that grasping is the cause of dukkha, you just let go. Instead of clinging, you just release it. The peace that comes from releasing is nirodha, the experience of cessation, the Third Noble Truth which is often hardly even noticed. The mind, under the influence of the ego, is more inclined to notice what is exciting or interesting. Usually you might be pushing away an experience, or grasping it, or struggling with it, or making something out of it, or becoming it. But then, in this moment of insight, you see these as just the reactive responses we usually have out of ignorance of our mind states, our bodily experiences and so on.
Cessation is peaceful: the ending of grasping, the ending of our problems, the ending of ‘me’ with my story and all its complexities. You realize that there is no one there. The mind with its thoughts, feelings and perceptions just seems to arise out of nowhere, disappears and arises again. It is only through our delusion that we are constantly building up a sense of self around that, creating what we hope is some kind of secure landscape. We construct a person again and again out of our misapprehension of physical and mental phenomena.
This reflection by Ajahn Sundara is from the book, Walking the World, pp. 58-59.