Vipassana Afterthought

Read in Chinese (Simplified)

The 10 days of retreat made me realize what the term ‘habit’ actually means. How we are indeed slaves to our habits.

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During the retreat, I had tried real hard to shake off my frustration by way of clinging on to my old habits. Eating, walking, and even an action such as zipping up my bag which I don’t usually do much, all seemed to be more familiar to me compared to meditation, to looking at myself within. So in contrast they made me feel more at ease.

I was in a fit of anxiety the other day, and told myself repeatedly to just observe my anxiety, observe the anxious me, but I was already completely immersed in the anxiety itself, how could I be the objective observer? It must be that I’ve not yet cultivated the habit of observing myself in my negative emotions, so it was such a difficult task. Later I turned to turning my thoughts. I told myself that every phenomenon is merely the law of cause and effect at work, whatever will be will be, and that no matter what happens, Chenrezig is always with me. Perhaps this is a method that I’m more familiar with, it seemed to work somehow. Or perhaps I’ve yet the courage to face myself, it’s so much easier to turn to the Buddhas.

And I had a pretty surprising discovery. In the past, whenever I had a compulsive eating attack, I would be pushing food into my mouth while telling myself that I shouldn’t be doing so, and after the whole episode I would find myself feeling so wretched and sorry. But that day, in the midst of my anxiety, just before I reached out for food, I could see a thought that said, eat dear, and you’ll be released from all this misery.

Why hadn’t I ever seen such a thought so clearly before? This form of habit must be akin to that of alcoholics drowning themselves in drinks. I had always known somehow that I was being consciously unkind to myself whenever I couldn’t stop eating, but it hadn’t occurred to me that I was also trying to save myself from unpleasant emotions, even though the method wasn’t quite right.

It’s all habit, isn’t it!

Put simply, spiritual practice is just the dismantling of old negative habits, and cultivating new positive habits. Isn’t it?

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