How to prevent worry and grasping – the Buddha in the Upaadaaparitassanaa Sutta

Why is it that worry occurs?

[At Saavatthii the Blessed One said:]

“Monks, I will explain to you:

  • Grasping and worrying, and also
  • Not grasping and not worrying…

Here, monks, the uninstructed worldling, with no regard for Noble Ones,[1] unskilled and untrained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones,… of those who are worthy[2]

  • Regards body as the self, the self as having body, body as being in the self, or the self as being in the body.
  • Change occurs to this man’s body, and it becomes different.
  • Because of this change and alteration in his body, his consciousness is preoccupied with bodily change.
  • Due to this preoccupation with bodily change, worried thoughts arise and persist, laying a firm hold on his mind.
  • Through this mental obsession he becomes fearful and distressed, and being full of desire[3] and attachment he is worried.

He regards feeling as the self,… change occurs to his feeling… he is worried. [Similarly with ‘perception,’ ‘the mental formations’ and ‘consciousness’].

In this way, monks, grasping and worrying arise.

And how, monks, do not grasping and not worrying arise?

“Here, monks, the well-instructed Ariyan disciple, who has regard for the Noble Ones, is skilled and trained in the Dhamma of the Noble Ones,… of those who are worthy,

  • Does NOT regard body as the self, the self as having body, body as being in the self, or the self as being in the body.
  • Change occurs to this man’s body, and it becomes different, but despite this change and alteration in his body, his consciousness is not preoccupied with bodily change… Not being full of desire and attachment, he is not worried.

[Similarly with ‘feeling,’ ‘perception,’ ‘the mental formations’ and ‘consciousness’].

In this way, monks, grasping and worrying do not arise.”

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka/sn/sn22/sn22.007.wlsh.html

So don’t think that your body is the real you.  We are used to think that our body is us, don’t we?

So we see a wrinkle starting to develop on our face and think, “Eh?  I never used to have wrinkles!  My face used to be really smooth!”

We see a white hair on our head, and think, “Is that right?  No way!”

After our 40’s, one day, we find that we have to hold things further and further out to be able to read and we think, “I used to have perfect vision!  There’s no way that I’m getting old!”

So all these types of worrying come from thinking that our bodies are us.  So we get pre-occupied with all these changes.

Now that’s not to say that we shouldn’t look after our bodies, we do!  We still have to be kind to it and take care of it – because we have to live with our bodies for a long time, don’t we?  You’ve still got another 50, 40, 30, 20, 10 more years to go!  So be kind to your body and take good care of it, don’t abuse it or wear it out unnecessarily.  Be good to it.  This way, your body can stay stronger for longer and last you well into your older years.

But ultimately, our body is not who we really are.  Take care of this body of ours, give it good nutrition, healthy exercise and enough rest.  Also give it good medicine when it needs it.

It’s more like a house that we live in.  Houses break down over time, don’t they?  Don’t mistake the house to be you.  You are the Master of the house, but this house is not who you really are.

So you can observe your body and reflect, “This body is not me.  It’s not who I really am.” and then you let it go.  Keep taking good care of it, but the body is going to change however it’s going to change according to nature’s changes.  But that which observes those changes, doesn’t change does it?

The awareness that observes those bodily changes remains the same when you were a little boy or girl, hasn’t changed in adulthood and doesn’t change even when your body is advanced in years.  This discussion was had in the Shurangama Sutra with the Buddha, instructing King Prasenajit about this.

So this body is not the real you.  It’s just a temporary living place that’s in your custody that will change with time, but it’s not who you really are.

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