To Feel or Not to Feel?

Go with the flow, they say.  Connect with our feelings, they say.

“I don’t feel like eating” “I feel so happy” ” I feel so sad” “I feel depressed” “I don’t feel like doing anything”

Sounds familiar?  It is becoming increasingly common to hear such statements.  Or more correctly, we are increasingly more more accepting of such statements.

It’s good isn’t it?  We are learning to be more empathetic and understanding towards others’ feelings.  On one hand, it is good that we are becoming more caring and loving by recognising what others are going through.  We start to connect with one another at a deeper level.  On the other hand, this emphasis on our feelings is starting to show its flip side:  Just as one can feel good, one can feel bad as well.

A long time ago, it is common to hear woman’s heart (decisions) described as the traffic lights, flipping this and that way every now and then.  Also, people’s feelings (emotions) like the weather, unpredictable and ever changing. Dear reader, are you affected already?  Has these few lines of words affected your feelings yet?

Like the clouds in
the sky

Don’t fret.  I think man’s heart and emotions are rather similar, also subject to change and sometimes unpredictable.  We all just lie on varying degrees in a spectrum.

So …. feel better?  That’s how easy our feelings, as in emotions, changes.

Like the clouds in the sky, our feelings come and go.  Or like when someone fart, if you let it dissipate, then the smell goes away.  If you hold on to it, trap it with a plastic bag, then the smell stays with you.

These days, we are becoming increasingly absorbed in our feelings.  There is nothing wrong about being aware of how we feel.  Our feelings are important, and I’m not here to trivialise what others are going through or are feeling.  But if we start giving it so much importance, over-importance and over-emphasis of our feelings, then we are headed for trouble.

Giving our feelings too much emphasis reinforces them and allows them to persist.  They stay as long as we allow them to.  It’s nice to want positive feelings to stay and persist.  It feels really good to solidify them.  Unfortunately, the same psychological process that give rise to positive feelings can give rise to negative feelings too.  And as long as we get used to letting positive feelings stay, persist and solidify, this mental habitual tendency is the same mechanism that can allow our negative emotions to stay, persist and solidify.

When we feel good, then it is over the top elation.  When we feel bad, then it is down in the rut, depression!

On the other end, some may ignore or deny their feelings.  Doing so, they may lose touch with themselves and allow negativity to pile up, only to blow up in their face, and often in others as well!  Chances are, one may also find it hard to be aware of others’ feelings if one is not even aware of one’s own feelings.

Instead of denying and ignoring our feelings, or becoming overly dependent or over-emphasising our feelings, perhaps there is a middle ground, a middle way.

Be aware when there are positive emotions arising, just as when there are negative ones.  But instead of holding on to them, like one may try to hold on to clouds (or fart!?), we should see that these feelings come and go, arises when there are conditions and goes away like the clouds in the sky.  Remember that feelings are impermanent.

We should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally

Where you are, try sitting with your upper torso slanted to the side at around 30 degrees.  Hold it there.  Hold.  Wait.  Ok, wait a bit longer.  Hold until you feel some strain and ache.  In fact, hold for one minute before continuing.

Did you do that?  Or did you shift your body when it feels uncomfortable?  If you shifted, congratulations!  Our heart and mind is much like that too.  If certain way of thinking or feeling is uncomfortable, we should shift ourselves mentally and emotionally, instead of allowing ourselves to hold onto such painful feelings.

We can and should learn emotional “aerobics”!  Like aerobics or yoga is on our body, it is initially not so easy on our mind and heart, for we are used to our mental habits of holding on!!  But like those physical exercises, if we learn to be malleable mentally and emotionally, then we can liberate ourselves from negative emotions that shackles us down.

The Buddha described our physical and mental faculties as like foams, bubbles, mirages, core-less, like a magician’s trick, unreal, empty, void and without substance.

Go ahead and observe.  See for yourself.  Ehipassiko.


  • Diamond Sutra – Chapter 32



Thoughts About the Buddha’s Teachings from 5th April 2010

I received a few emails about the verse found on 5th April 2010.

There are these three unskillful types of thought. What three? Thoughts of self-esteem, thoughts of gains, honours and fame and thoughts of worrying about others.


Most of the emails expressed questions about why worrying about others is an unskillful thought.  Here’s why.

Worry and concern are very similar, yet very different at the same time.

Without getting pedantic about it, being concerned about someone or something is not a bad thing. It is definitely good to care and be concerned for others, as this concern can and should lead to positive action to benefit others. However, this concern can instead lead to worry, which is the mere discursive thinking and often uncontrolled vacillations about the matter concerned.


The former is what can help others and can be driven by loving kindness and compassion, while the latter does not help the matter but preoccupies us, draining us emotionally and sometimes confuses us,

So be concerned, and actively do something about it, and not start worrying about things.

Hope this allays your concerns and you can stop worrying about it. 😉

Who Slammed the Door?

Sometimes when a door or window slams, do you find that someone, sometimes ourselves, would respond with a “Who was that who slammed the door (or window)?”. And if the response is “Oh, it was the wind”, then almost magically, the agitation or annoyance subsides or disappears! If it turned out to be someone responsible, then a further exchange may take place. The annoyance becomes directed to the person responsible.

We like to find people to blame (or praise), don’t you think? This tendency to do that is preceded by the habit to affix a persona behind any experience or phenomena worth noting. In a way, this habit is also driven by the need or habit to blame. So this two tendencies are mutually supportive of each other.

Sometimes when we find that there is no person behind, say the slamming door or window, we are not satisfied. We are very smart. We use our intelligent mind to further investigate. Then we ask “who left the door open without securing it?”. And if that turned out to be indeterminate, we may continue pursuing until we find someone to blame. We are so full of energy when it comes to blaming people ya?

No, we are not like that? Yes, most people are not like that usually. But when we are in this energetic mode, then all hell breaks loose. We drill and question and conduct forensic analysis, just to get to the bottom of things! “Justice must be served” we might even exclaim!

What is the purpose of this “Justice” or “Rights and wrongs” if all it gets us into is this find-someone-to-blame-mode?

Coming back to the slamming door example, consider both possibilities, where someone slammed it or where the wind blew it shut, slamming it. In both cases, there was energy imparted to the door, causing it to move. Kinetic energy from the wind did the job in the latter, while kinetic energy from someone did it in the former. Both are energy. Does the door know the difference between the two sources of energy? No. Does the door slam differently in either cases? Nope, except when the energy imparted is of a different intensity.

Does the door slam with a “Ah Beng slammed the door” or “The wind slammed the door”? Nope. Yet, we impute additional meaning to the slamming door. I’m not denying that it is either the wind, Ah Beng or some sources that did it. I’m saying that

1) if the distinction of the sources is not meaningful in our and others’ happiness, then it is not meaningful to discern and cling strongly to such distinction.

2) the distinction is imputed, because the direct cause of the slamming is basically kinetic energy!* Not some person, or a being.

Discernment #1 is easier to accept and do, and it appeals to our pragmatic wish to be happy. It, however, only mitigates one’s problem. Discernment #2 is easy to understand, but harder to recognise internally or apply directly. If one is able to do so, then one weakens the root of the problem (Sakaya-ditthi) and in due time, cuts the very cause of suffering!

Many years back, I was at the Fa Yun monastery and was having lunch one day. One of the duty person dripped gravy onto the outer surface of my alms bowl. Being the unenlightened monk, a thought arose “Aiyaya! How careless!” After awhile I caught myself and reflected somewhat mindfully and all was well. Then another time, when I was on duty serving, I dripped some gravy on my own bowl! I simply wiped it off without a second thought or agitation. Then a thought arose “HA! …. ….”

I will leave you to ponder what followed that “HA!” … ^_^

* — If one observes rupa (form) mindfully with respect to the four elements, one sees
clearly that the slamming door, the wind or a “person” slamming it are basically a function of the wind element. In modern speak, kinetic energy.

What Is It That Vexes You?

Someone recently used logic and reason to refute a statement I made.  What she said about it (potentially) vexing me got
me thinking about whether that actually vexes me.

Logic and reasons do not vex me.  Absence of it and denial of its absence, potentially … .. escapes and perhaps vex me to a certain extent. 😉

So what vexes you?

The Shrink Is In … Letting It Out … … Your Anger I Mean

You know what they say, in some therapy, in some movies, or some TV shows, where the patient is advised to just let out their anger? Or in some cases, yourself or a friend who actually sees a “shrink” and you are told to acknowledge your anger (or whatever emotions you are dealing with! … rarely is it happiness!). Some of these scenes (not sure in real life) would further include the patient shouting out “I’m angry! I’m flabbergasted! I’m so f**king pissed!” … and in some cases even throwing things, and the good doctor would then say “Good good! Acknowledge your emotions. … ” etc etc …

I’m just wondering if anyone who tried this realise that the mere acknowledging or more rightly, the identifying with emotions in such manner, serves also to strengthen them. The mere “I am angry”, reinforces that well, I am angry. But where’s the I, as they would say? There’s probably a letting go part that some of these movies or real life accounts are missing, or maybe I didn’t watch the right ones or the persons I hear it from didn’t go to the right shrink. But is it just me or isn’t it harder to let it go later on after we have identified with it saying “I am angry” like a gazillion times?? Read More …