We can learn to use the structures and the limits of a retreat, a monastic life or those that are part of lay life…to look at the mind’s habit of chasing after a desire or an aversion. We can make an effort to not follow the craving but to know: ‘This is a feeling; this is a very potent feeling perhaps, it’s very strong, but it is just a feeling.’ The mind might make a strong case: ‘I can’t stand this! ‘I’ve got to get away from…’ or ‘I’ve got to have some!’ but we can learn to know that as a movement, a wave, a feeling in the heart and to know that that craving, that desire, is a lie. It’s not the truth, it’s not the whole story; it’s merely a mental impulse.
When we are able to recognize that: ‘This is a feeling of liking and the mind is trying to run away with it’ or: ‘This is a feeling of disliking and the mind is trying to run away with it,’ at that very moment we’re looking at the bridge between feeling and craving. That is the most helpful place to bring our attention. We are coming to the bridge and choosing not to cross it. We can recognize that: ‘Yes, this is a strong feeling; this is very compelling but I don’t have to cross this bridge.’ That’s a tremendous power we have, the freedom to make that choice. And essentially this is how we can liberate ourselves from the cycles of rebirth, the cycles of addiction. We can train our minds to recognize that we have a choice to not cross that bridge, to not let the mind get absorbed into craving, clinging and becoming and then to experience directly the freedom and peacefulness, the joyfulness that comes from living unselfishly.
This reflection from Ajahn Amaro is from Just One More, Appreciative Joy, pp.20-22.