Why Can’t the Mind get any Peace?
“Because it gets lost in its own moods” – Ajahn Chah
Wow. Now that’s drilling right down to the heart of the Buddha‘s teaching on why we suffer.
- A mood comes into the Mind
- Without realizing it, we have already automatically identified with these feelings as if they were us or part of us
- And so, we get caught up in them, we get lost in them and we get carried away in them – because we don’t understand what’s going on (avidya – not knowing, ignorance, delusion).
- But little do we know that these moods are actually not really us (anatta) – they are just emotional energies that come and go within our Minds.
See, the Mind mistakes these “mind states” to be itself – it gets fooled into thinking that things like emotions are a part of the mind. But actually these emotions are just mind states – and states just come and go WITHIN the Mind – they are NOT the Mind itself.
Using the mood of “sadness” as an example
- A sad feeling comes into the Mind
- Before we know it, we think, “I am sad” => so already, we’ve been caught up, absorbed into the emotion and taken away with it – before we can even realize what’s happening – we’ve already been caught up in the sadness. We’ve already mistakenly thought that the sadness is us or a part of us.
- But actually, the sadness is not really us. This sadness is not really me, this sadness is not really mine – it’s just an emotional state that arises and ceases within my Mind. It’s just an emotion energy that comes and goes within My mind.
Because you can observe the sadness, you already know that it’s not you – the observer is not the observed. The observer is something separate from the observed.
But we get fooled. Once you get caught up in the sadness – then we’re at the mercy of the “state” of sadness and the mind starts proliferating – and it can easily spiral down into a negative mind state, carrying us with it – and our whole world, our whole existence and seem as if it’s doom and gloom. So can you see how these moods and emotions can carry us away?
The same thing goes when a happy feeling enters our minds – we get carried away with that happy feeling too. So can you see how our minds get carried away with the moods that enter it? Mistaking the moods to be itself, the our emotions go on a rollercoaster ride up and down with our moods, depending on the external circumstances that got us into those moods in the first place.
That’s why we can’t get peace of mind – because:
- The mind gets tricked by the moods that come into it – and doesn’t realize it
- Not realizing that the moods that enter it are not the Mind itself
- The mind then gets absorbed into these moods and taken away with them – blown here and there by the winds of these moods.
And so, it is then at the mercy of these moods that afflict it, causing it to have no stability or peace – being happy at one moment and then sad the next.
Ajahn Chah explains
That sometimes the mind feels peaceful and other times not peaceful is because it has been tricked by these moods. The untrained mind lacks wisdom. It’s foolish.
Moods come and trick it into feeling:
- Pleasure one minute and
- Suffering the next.
Happiness then sadness.
The natural state of a person’s mind isn’t one of happiness or sadness. This experience of happiness and sadness is not the actual mind itself, but just these moods which have tricked it.
The mind gets lost, carried away by these moods with no idea what’s happening. And as a result, we experience pleasure and pain accordingly, because the mind has not been trained yet. It still isn’t very clever. And we go on thinking that it’s:
- Our mind which is suffering or
- Our mind which is happy,
when actually it’s just lost in its various moods.
– Ajahn Chah