When we don’t have enough clarity and calm, we easily fall prey to misperceiving that which is in front of us. We attempt to find security within that which is insecure. We try to find stability within that which is unstable.
On one occasion early in my monastic training, when I was caught up even more than usual in doubt and despair, I went to see Ajahn Chah, hoping he might help relieve me of my misery. He kindly listened to my worries and then commented:
“All these worries and doubts that you have are about things that are uncertain. What do you think happens when you try to make something that is inherently uncertain certain? You create suffering.”
Again, that was wisdom speaking. And it definitely made a difference. When we don’t have enough wisdom ourselves, we need to borrow some wisdom from others. Not that all my suffering suddenly disappeared, but it did become more workable. It also helped enormously when Ajahn Chah spoke of some of the ordeals he had endured as he struggled to come to terms with doubt and worry. We benefit from knowing we are not alone in our struggles.
To train our whole body and mind in awareness of the experience of uncertainty is to cultivate wisdom and take responsibility for our reactions to life. If we insist on maintaining our habits of resistance and avoiding how we feel in the face of uncertainty, we perpetuate suffering.
Wisdom recognizes the many tricks we get up to and the stories we tell ourselves. And it is in such recognition that letting go happens.
This reflection by Ajahn Munindo, is from the book, Sanity in the Midst of Uncertainty, (pdf) pp.16-17.