If We Could Just…

Ajahn Amaro

If We Could Just…

Sometimes we may think that if we could just get to a place where we didn’t feel this fear problem or this grief issue that we have, we’d be happy.

Often we’re trying to climb over a ‘this’ to get to some imagined ‘that’; we’re trying to climb over the present in order to reach some imagined future where there’s ‘me’ without ‘that thing’.

I’ve had to work a lot with this in the past, particularly with fear. I came to realize that my mind would be thinking: ‘Somewhere off in the future there is an Amaro who doesn’t feel so much fear. And won’t that be nice?’ I’d think of fear as ‘my fear problem’ or ‘my anxiety problem’, and that would lead me to wonder: ‘What can I do to get rid of that, get rid of my infection, so that then there will be “me” without “it”? And won’t that be grand!’

This was what my mind was doing. And I realized I was casting the whole thing into ‘me’ and ‘my problem’, imagining that there was a real, separate, individual person and that there was this real thing which was genuinely owned by that person.

But that is a misrepresentation of the felt experience. Rather than a ‘me’ who owned this thing and needed to get rid of it or was burdened by it, what was being experienced was simply the arising of fear. Fear appears within awareness. That is what is happening.

There is not a real concrete ‘me’ who is the owner and a real concrete ‘thing’ which is being owned. That is just a convenient fiction. It is just a way of phrasing things but we have become habituated to phrasing things in that way.

However, when there is a direct looking at what we know and feel, we can simply say to ourselves: ‘This is a feeling of fear. It is not a permanent presence. It is not my possession or my permanent problem. It comes and goes. It is a cyclical experience – it arises, does its thing, it blossoms and then it fades, like our intestinal flora, like the bacteria on our hands.’

This reflection by Ajahn Amaro is from the book, Don’t Push—Just Use the Weight of Your Own Body,
(pdf) pp.59-60