Ease (peacefulness, equanimity) and wakefulness (clear awareness) are with us all the time. But they have no tension to draw our attention, so we miss them. Meanwhile unwholesome qualities like striving, desire, aversion, fear, and discouragement may also be present. These have a lot of tension and draw our attention. Like the nightly news, bad news grabs the headlines while good news is boring.
Searching for peaceful awareness is like scouring the countryside to find our noses. Rather than strive for easeful wakefulness, we can use them by taking a dispassionate interest in whatever is going.
If the mind is scattered, we just notice, “Ah, scattered mind.” If it’s peaceful we notice, “Hmmm, peacefulness.” If it’s grumpy and resistant we notice, “Far out, grumpiness.” What arises in the mind-heart is not as important as the quality with which we know it. This journey is easier if we smile and enjoy what’s happening rather than tensely control or fret about it.
Here’s the secret: unwholesome qualities cannot survive in the light of relaxed awareness. They dissolve like mist in the morning sun.
Even if ease and wakefulness seem puny, we can still exercise what we have. Dispassionate interest makes them stronger. As awareness grows, it will take care of those hindrances and distractions. We don’t have to do it. Our job is to take care of awareness. Then it can do its job of taking take care of us.
T. S. Elliot famously wrote:
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
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