The function of a feeling...

In this clip, Ken assures us we won't die or the world won't come to an end if we let our feelings/emotions be felt.

Often this avoidance of feelings gets me in trouble. So now I have a wee bit of a podcast to remind me, I won't die if I just let them arise and fall away.

The function of a feeling (from Heart Sutra Workshop 03- 00:00:40:9 - 00:09:55:0)

(download into iTunes)

Okay, well any questions from this morning? Microphone, Sophie isn't it?

Sophie: You know when you're talking about like who experiences the experience, if you're having like a lot of pain, who's experiencing that? I mean you know it's very difficult to transform that experience into emptiness, when ...

Ken: You can't possibly transform it into emptiness, who ever told you you could do something like that?

Sophie: Well I think ...I once saw a lama in Tibet who was in tremendous pain and he laid there smiling, as people came in to bow before him. I just curious about that because if you have pain or you see someone suffering , what's going on there if there's no experiencer and no experience, you know I'm just ...and I know I am confusing relative world with absolute..

Ken: Well, I think this is a very good question. Because I think there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding around this. The...you know you can't transform pain into emptiness for the same reason you can't wake up a person who is pretending to sleep. (laughter) I'll let you chew on that for a little bit. But it is actually the same reason.

Now, I'll answer your question more completely in the last section this afternoon, but for now because we are going to go into this, it isn't a question of transforming an experience into something else. It's a matter of experiencing what is arising as completely as possible.

Because, I'll put it very simply when you experience things completely, then you know what they are.

How many of you got angry over the last week? How many of you were/took the anger that arose as a fact that you just HAD to act on? Yeah, let's be honest. You got angry all of you did! And we do that because we don't know at that moment what anger is. It appears to be very solid and have a lot of force, etc. But if we experience it completely then we know it is a movement in mind. In the same way that a wave is movement in water.

I imagine most of you have had the experience in your meditation of sitting there fuming over something that happened the previous week or the previous day and just sitting there, GRRRH! Grrr! Err. And then back to the breath, but he said this and he said that, Grrr!

Any body had this experience? (laughter) And it goes on for ten minutes or fifteen minutes or twenty minutes or whatever then suddenly you find yourself sitting there like this...and you're not angry at all. And you didn't decide not to be angry, you didn't say to yourself, "Oh self, I've worked through this now." It just stopped. Right?

What happened, I was angry two minutes ago? And you're trying to remember the situation but there's ... you can't get any juice in it. Anybody had this experience?

That arises because the anger has actually been felt. You know it may sound a little stupid but I say a lot of stupid things. So that's nothing unusual. But the function of a feeling is to be felt. And a feeling can't be complete until it is felt.

Now what happens if a feeling comes up and you try not to feel it? NO, I don't really love him. How long does that one work? You know...I'm not really angry with you, I just have a few things to tell you.(laughter)

Or the Charlie Brown version of this. Lucy says to Charlie Brown, "I'm going to do you a favor Charlie Brown, I'm going to tell you every thing that's wrong with you. Next frame, "Why don't you get a sheet of foolscap (paper)? Nest frame, "Draw a column...line down the center." Last frame, "On second thought, get two sheets." (soft laughter)

No anger here at all.

But when you experience it and a lot of us don't do that very gracefully but when it's actually been felt, been experienced than its finished.

When we know this about feelings, then we can open to the experience of them. And we experience them vividly, just like our friend here this piece of paper. And they come and they go. And something very important happens then.

Can you be what...can you be something that you experience that comes and goes ? No, if it comes and goes in our experience, we can't possibly be it.

So we can't be anger. Anger arises but it can't be what we are in the way we were talking about this morning. Oh, okay. Not only that, we experienced it , we felt it and the world didn't come to an en Most people don't actually experience the emotions because they are afraid that if they do the world will come to an end. Or they'll die or something like that will happen.

So the more intimately we know our experience, the more we're able to just experience something.