Hsin Shin Ming: “36. Not well, the mind is troubled. Then why cling to or reject anything?”
‘Not well’ means ‘if or when things do not go well’. Put simply, this scripture means ‘We should not cling to or reject anything because our minds are disturbed when things don’t go well’.
The key problem is that it is impossible to live our lives without clinging to or rejecting anything because our lives consist of continuous decisions and choices, and because deciding and choosing is clinging to or rejecting something. You, for example, should cling to being sober while driving and reject drinking and driving. We should cling to taking good care of our children and reject abusing them. How could we avoid these things in our lives?
Why is the mind troubled when we cling to or reject anything? Sometimes we can’t get what we cling to, and from time to time we can’t avoid what we reject. Once in a while what we cling to turns out to be what we reject. When things don’t go as we please like this, we think that things don’t go well, and then our minds are troubled.
Our question here is how we can stop clinging to or rejecting anything, so that our minds can be free from being troubled while living our lives as usual. The answer is to see things as they are and realise that everything is empty. Our problem is that we don’t know who clings to, or rejects what, since we can’t see things as they are. When we can see things as they are, we can realise that not only the things we cling to, or reject, but we who cling to or reject them are also empty. When both the subject and the object of an action are empty, the result of the action is also empty regardless of whether it appears to be good or bad. Then, we can feel free to cling to or reject anything because our minds are not disturbed by the result of our clinging or rejecting, since we know that it is also empty.
This scripture doesn’t tell us not to cling to or reject anything at all, but rather to freely cling to or reject anything while being aware that both we and everything we cling to or reject are empty.
All writing ©Boo Ahm. All images ©Simon Hathaway
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