I love to cook eggs, well (the trick with fried eggs is to cook them on a really slow heat, with butter, with a lid). But even the newest frying pan can still stick a bit.
If you're wondering if I've lost the plot, the connection is about cultivating a non-stick mind.
We suffer emotionally for one reason only; that stuff the world throws at us, we take personally. It sticks, and we contort ourselves to shake it off, or to try to avoid it in the first place. How would it be if any insult, any loss, any embarrassment, or any pain, was clearly experienced, but our emotional reaction to it simply did not hang around for long?
Well, the good news is that our innate mind, the one we were born with, is entirely non-stick. In fact, there's nothing there for anything to stick to.
So if that's true for all of us (which it is), how come we're screwed up by life? Why is it that we worry about stuff that's happened, might happen, or might not happen? What causes the stickiness? And what can we do about it?
My personal experience, as one who is not yet fully Teflon-coated (but working at it), is that the problem is me. Yeah, that Simon fellow with all his habituated ways and distorted perceptions. I can only experience the non-stick quality, the non-material spaciousness of the innate mind, when I've dropped the concept of me. All the stickiness, is stuff that sticks to Simon.
So it seems as if the simple solution is to let go of our learned reactions and behaviours. If only it was really that simple, right? Ok, maybe we get glimpses on the cushion, but how can we bring that freshness and resilience into daily life?
Again, I can only talk from my own experience; and the boring news (that you don't want to hear) is that it's from regular sitting practice and retreats - just being there, patiently, until insights turn up. More and more glimpses of the truth of the bare, naked mind; more and more confidence in this; and more likelihood that this truth starts to permeate everyday life, so that emotional reactions begin to shorten and lessen in intensity. I don't think there's a short cut.
And what do you do when you're sitting? Absolutely nothing; just stay awake! Less and less effort is the answer. When you stop making any effort at all, not even the slightest effort, you are truly letting go. You must even let go of letting go. And if you let go completely, what can stick?
So this is really the practice I want to share with you. You can call it mindfulness if you wish, or dharma, or something more spiritual. They're just words. What's clear to me is that this is the most beautiful thing there is; so that's worth sharing. That, and good ways to cook eggs.
This first appeared on the Mindfulness Inside Out blog in July 2016