A king’s robe or an old blanket can keep you warm.
A gold throne or the bare ground can be your seat.
A grand palace or a mud hut can be your shelter.
A jewelled plate or a wooden pot can hold your food.
The external world does not destroy your inner peace,
But your attachment and aversion will.
For as long as there is the dualistic grasping of ‘self’ and ‘other’ it is impossible to get rid of all of the external problems that cause us to suffer. But when there is no more dualistic grasping, it’s as if they have disappeared. As the great master Shantideva said:
“Where would I find enough leather to cover the entire surface of the world? But with leather on my feet, it’s as if the whole world has been covered.”
When pleasant feelings arise and we automatically grasp them, or when unpleasant feelings arise and we try to avoid them, we set up a chain reaction of entanglement and suffering. This perpetuates the body of fear. However, if we learn to be aware of feelings without grasping or aversion, then they can move through us like changing weather, and we can be free to feel them and move on like the wind. It can be a very interesting meditation exercise to focus specifically on our feelings for several days. We can name each one and see which ones we are afraid of, which we are entangled by, which generate stories, and how we become free. “Free” is not free from feelings, but free to feel each one and let it move on, unafraid of the movement of life. We can apply this to the difficult patterns that arise for us. We can sense what feeling is at the center of each experience and open to it fully. This is a movement toward freedom. ~ Jack Kornfield