We take suffering as a great misfortune. We take the things that stop us in our tracks as a great misfortune, but actually they can be blessings.
While you’re getting ahead, succeeding and coming out on top, how much do you stop and listen? There is no need to, is there? When life is fun, who needs to be wise? When we contemplate dukkha (suffering) we begin to be aware of that. We get stopped in our tracks by misfortune, our inability to cope, our feelings of inner desolation.
It’s all right really; it’s a sign that there’s a possibility of waking up. That’s why we call this truth of suffering ‘noble’. It’s a sign for a spiritual seeker, a sign of waking up, something we should contemplate. What is the sensation of that? What is the antidote to that? People who have not really followed through or understood clearly tend to try to replace dukkha with sukha, unpleasant things with pleasant things, unsatisfactoriness with some kind of satisfaction.
In meditation you’re seeing that even pleasant things are unsatisfactory. Even happiness is, in a way, not quite enough. It comes and goes; it tends to wane and leaves us feeling disappointed.
The problem is actually the way we relate to these experiences…you can take yourself as being a kind of closed object, like a lump of wood; you go around and you do this, and you do that, then you do this, and then you do that … You don’t want unhappiness, so you try to get happiness. But the idea that happiness is something you can get reinforces the idea that happiness is something you have to hold, and therefore something you can lose.
When we cultivate the heart, we’re actually not concentrating on the getting or the losing, but on the movement, allowing perceptions and feelings to go through us. We watch them change. We watch our fears, doubts, discontent and sorrow arise. Sometimes a great sorrow comes up. We become much more transparent, allowing feelings to go through us without holding on to them or pushing them away.
This is a means of opening the mind, of sensitizing ourselves to the movement of things, to the change of things, so that other beings and the world around are things that move through us.
We are interchangeable; it’s not a hard thing out there.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, The Most Precious Gift, (pdf) pp. 60-61.