Control Your Feelings?

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Control Your Feelings?

So learn how to gain some control over your feelings.

Now this may sound strange. How can you control your feelings? Sometimes we have the sense that our feelings are who we really are and that they’re a given.

But that’s not how the Buddha explains them. He says that in every feeling there’s an element of fabrication, i.e., an element of intention. This applies to physical feelings as well as to mental feelings. You want to learn how to see where that element of intention is and how to engage in that element skillfully.

As he says, that for the sake of having a feeling, we fabricate these feelings. We take a potential for a feeling and, through our intention to have a feeling, turn it into an actual experience of a feeling.

You wouldn’t think that we would want to fabricate pain, but we’re not skillful in our fabrication. So that’s what we sometimes end up with. We want feelings of pleasure, but we often end up creating pain.

Now there are certain givens: You’ve got a disease in your body; you’ve got aches and pains in your body that come from old kamma. You can’t do much about that. But, as Ajaan Lee says, it’s not that your body is totally pained.

And you do have the choice: Where do you want to focus your attention? What do you want to maximize? Do you want to maximize the pain or maximize the pleasure?

This reflection by Ajaan Geoff is from the Dhamma Talks book, The Noble Eightfold Path: 13 Meditation Talks, “The Second Frame of Reference.”