The mind that is not attached is already quite happy. This is a happiness that never goes. It is something we can taste in our meditation practice. We begin to notice that we are happy when we don’t want anything. What kind of happiness is not wanting?
At the point of not wanting, we are experiencing not being reborn into something. Desire is rebirth. We are reborn all the time in this sense, so we know rebirth. And we want a happy rebirth, don’t we? If we are a normal human being we want to be happy. I’m not dismissing that; it is really important to want to be happy. But if we constantly cling to happiness that is dependent on conditions, we won’t know the peace and happiness that emerge from a mind which is content, peaceful, empty of incessant wanting.
We can experiment with this in ourselves. We can test it, explore, enquire. We can question and have the freedom to find out for ourselves whether the teaching is true or not. We begin to take notice, rather than being obsessed with perfecting a particular quality of mind. Instead we learn to relax in the present moment.
There may be the wish to have a happy mind, a radiant and peaceful mind. All these desires are natural. These are healthy motivations, called chanda in Pali. But work must be done to get to that point. When we say, ‘I want to be happy’, we learn to recognize this mind state and allow mindfulness to see it as it is, instead of using wilfulness to try to get what we want according to an idea.
Then we can begin to notice the ‘do-er’ and the ‘doing’. The idea of being able to get somewhere without ‘doing’ anything can be difficult to understand. How can I get somewhere without ‘me’? And yet when we practise our meditation, little by little and with patience we begin to “withstand the power of ‘me’ wanting to do something.
Instead of ‘me! me! me!’, we begin to simply understand. We hear those voices shouting ‘me!’, and our attitude is: ‘Yes – I hear you. You want to be good. You want concentration. You want to be a good meditator. I understand that you are in a hurry, that you think you have a better way. But for now we are doing it like this.’
Sometimes you have to talk to yourself in this way. ‘The Buddha-mind is in charge. The wakeful mind is in charge. Okay?’ Talk to the mind firmly sometimes. Otherwise it will just keep making you feel miserable and dragging you back onto the treadmill of suffering, lamentation and grief.
This reflection by Ajahn Sundara is from the book, Paccuppanna—The Present Moment, (pdf) pp.76-79.