Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Process

The process involved in ending suffering requires a particular kind of work. The ego should not be seen as a problem rather it should be seen as the solution. The ego can be viewed as a guide that shows us clearly when and where we believe something that is not true. It is a very simple and elegant guide that cannot fail once we learn of its existence. The body has a similar mechanism that tells us clearly when we do anything that may damage the body. This mechanism tells us precisely when something is too hot or too cold or too sharp. The ego can be seen in a similar way, it shows us precisely when we believe something that isn’t true. Ultimately it can tell us precisely what it is we believe that is not true. It is not necessary to look for what it is we believe that isn’t true it is enough to just acknowledge that there must be something we believe that isn’t true if we experience any form of suffering. Pain itself is not suffering, this is important to recognise. Pain is the natural warning system of the body that tells us that something is wrong, either in terms of something we are doing or something that is already happening in the body. Suffering is always a mental construct that tells us something about our pain that is not true. The mental construct is usually ‘it shouldn’t be like this’ or variations of this such as ‘I don’t like it’ or ‘it is bad and will probably get worse’. Suffering is also another word for anger, depression, irritation, boredom, frustration, jealousy, greed, embarrassment, shame, guilt and many other subtle and not so subtle variations of these. When any form of suffering arises the process is first to simply see that suffering is arising, this is not so easy as we may have learned over the years to see this as normal. If it is seen as normal we are missing the point that suffering is a sign that something is wrong and that we believe something that is not true. Once it is established that we are suffering we have to trust that this can only mean one thing, that we believe something that isn’t true. When I say trust I am saying that this process must resonate with you enough to at least try it. In time you will not need to trust, you will know. The negative physical sensation that goes with anger for instance is simply noticed and we then apply the rule that this must mean I believe something that is not true. When I say ‘apply the rule’ I do not mean necessarily to think about it although you may want to in the beginning. Thinking is not necessary as we have the ability to recognise something without thinking. Having consciousness we recognise many things without thinking. We recognise that we are alive and breathing and seeing and feeling and hearing and many other things, all without thinking. It is possible also to recognise that something that is believed is not true. We can often recognise when someone else believes something that is not true but find it harder to recognise in ourselves. Once this is established leave it alone until it arises again and then repeat the procedure. In time this whole process will happen instinctively and without effort. Resolve to follow this process to the end, the end being the point where you no longer cause yourself to suffer by believing something that is not true.


  1. I have started this process you suggested diligently. Somehow the negative physical sensations I'm experiencing have started to increase in intensity (i.e. extreme uncomfortable sensations all over the body, headache and an uncontrollable desire to escape from this pain through self-medicating myself in some form).
    Why is the suffering increasing?
    Also where in the body should I put my attention on, as there is a flux of sensations and cannot locate where the pain is originating or residing in.

  2. It is likely that the ego sees a threat to its power in this process. If so it will do anything to get you back where it wants you and pain is a pretty effective way of achieving this. The uncontrollable desire to escape pain through self medication is not new. I assume this has been going on for a while. I think of this as a particular momentum you have built up. The more momentum there is the harder it is to slow down and stop. I suggest that you be compassionate with yourself and give yourself time to slow down. Stay with the process but take it slowly allow time for the momentum to reduce naturally. It is like trying to stop a speeding train you have to allow for the momentum that has already built up and not do anything to derail the train. It is not necessary to put your attention anywhere, just be aware that there are sensations occurring that tend to be labeled in a negative way. It is not so important to know where the sensations are coming from just that they are arising. It is just the fact that they are arising that tells you something is being believed that is not true.

  3. Can I safely say (without more belief in this statement) that the root belief that fuels the pain is that 'This shouldn't be happening!' ?
    If so then it makes it increasingly clear that many beliefs that are dependant on this belief will crumble along with it.
    Of course I understand that the ego itself is the primary belief which feels that it is an autonomous entity with the power to choose, want and act.
    So my question really is that if the rug is pulled out from underneath from the belief that 'This shouldn't be happening' by being vulnerable to the pain when it arises and knowing that there is a belief behind this which is not true, will that subsequently lead to the collapse of the core belief of the 'autonomous ego'?

  4. Hi, I like the way you have formulated your question. Yes there is no doubt in my mind that this one root belief 'This shouldn't be happening' which is clearly not true must be the cause of all suffering. Vulnerability is the truth of what is happening. When there is no further resistance to this truth the collapse is complete. The belief 'this shouldn't be happening' always causes a negative feeling and it is this feeling or suffering that tells us that this belief is untrue. It is a question of placing our attention in the right place. The right place is the suffering itself or the physical sensation that represents that suffering as well as the knowledge constantly applied that for this to occur there must be a belief being held that is not true. It is useful to 'know' that this process once begun is inevitable, do not however think that it can be controlled. When we are able to surrender ourselves to this process any idea of how long it should take will interfere with the process. When the fruit is ripe it is ready to eat. The ego can never know, understand or control the ripening of the fruit. Even so the ego is involved in this process as the suffering we observe is the result of the ego.