Ajahn Jumnien is a marvellous monk who is highly regarded by Ajahn Brahm and Ajahn Passano. There are some great stories written about him in the book, Sons of the Buddha.
Here, he shares 4 qualities that used to give him a great deal of suffering before he abandoned them. Notice that these are all variations of aversion – 1 of the 3 poisons (greed, aversion and delusion) – they are all aversive type behaviours – something happens that you don’t want – so you react in these ways.
Knowing about them helps you recognize that they are happening (because previously, you might not have even realized that you were reacting in these ways) and then letting them go:
There are 4 mental patterns that used to bring me a great deal of dukkha before I abandoned them. And there are 5 mental qualities that I have come to uphold and nurture as a part of my practice.
1. Feeling Hurt
The first of the qualities to abandon here and now is the feeling of being hurt or being let down. The Thai word for this is “noijai” and it is often accompanied by a feeling of being unloved when an expectation is not met.
This is the feeling that can tend to arise when, for example:
- I did something and did not receive the result I was hoping for, OR
- When I tried to do good things but my actions were not well received.
This feeling causes suffering and disempowerment. By abiding in this feeling, you will lose energy and feel disempowered rather than loveable and powerful.
2. Feeling Disappointed
The 2nd quality I abandoned is the feeling of disappointment.
When things are not going well, disappointment can drag the mind down and cause a lot of suffering. It can cause families to break up, or cause someone to stop trying, or even commit suicide.
3. Feeling Angry
The 3rd quality I abandoned is anger.
Anger belongs nowhere. No one ever benefits from anger; it only causes destruction and creates suffering for oneself and for others.
4. Self Sabotage
The 4th quality I abandoned is what in Thai is called “prachod”.
“Prachod” is when we do something that is the opposite of what is good – out of our own hurt feelings or frustrations. This attitude never gives the results that we really want.
For example, a husband may be disappointed with his wife and say, “Let’s break up”. Even though that’s what the husband SAYS he wants, he may not mean it. But he might get those results.
These are the 4 patterns I gave up when I applied my mind to the Middle Way. These qualities are all disempowering and lead to unhappiness. By diligently abandoning these 4 qualities as they arise, you will become more happy and powerful.
p15-16 Under the Bodhi Tree, Ajahn Jumnian
So we already know that not getting what you want gives you suffering. But if you unconsciously react in these 4 ways, you make it worse – and compound more suffering on top of the suffering that’s already there.
So if something doesn’t go your way:
- Don’t feel hurt – don’t feel sorry for yourself and say woe is me, why did this have to happen to me – because you’ll just be wallowing in your own misery. Especially if you tried to do something good and it wasn’t well received.
- Don’t feel disappointed
- Don’t feel angry
- Don’t sabotage yourself
Abandon these qualities because otherwise, they’ll just drag your mind down into a negative, disempowered state where you’re wallowing in your own unhappiness. Give them up so that you may have peace of mind for yourself.