The seeds of joy and peace and freedom from mind-generated disruptions are all in our nature already. The only reason we are not constantly awake to them is that we do not know how to calm our minds; the noise of worries, fears, aversions, clingings, cravings, delusions, celebrity news, advertisements, and obsessions with buying things cover them up.
Despite this fact, however, we can access this condition-less joy and peace at any time. Instead of being mesmerized by the content of the mind, simply look past it and into the clear awareness that is observing it. Look between the thoughts at that aware Clarity that is awake to them and experiencing them. Look to that clear field of awareness that is not contingent on any interdependently coarising cause, condition, or thing and rest as that.
The more you rest as this clear field in which the body-mind and phenomenal universe arise, the more you wake up to the seeds of joy, peace, compassion, and insight within you.
With this practice comes the understanding that nothing separately exists by itself in the whole universe’; every thing inter-is, together, all depending on each other for their being. For your body to live, for example, you need the water, oxygen, and plant or meat nutrients from the countless other things in the world; these things are all themselves embedded in ecosystems, water cycles, food cycles, and planetary atmospheres. And these larger systems depend on the position of the other in relation to the larger planets in the solar system and the distance between the earth and the sun. Beyond this, the very existence of our solar system depends on noninterference from other celestial bodies such as large meteors, comets, and asteroids. Look deeply into anything and you’ll find a million connections linking it to everything.
From this realization in turn comes the understanding that there is no separate self and constantly egotism is grounded on a falsehood, an illusion. You may not directly experience the suffering of other sentient beings, but it is interdenpendent with you, not-separate from your own being. All beings are bound up together. Compassion, therefore, is a wise response and indifference is a cruel shutting out of all of those things from which you are not separate, of all of those beings in the world that exist continuously with your own body-mind. From compassion, further insights arise about how to wisely relate to others, how to speak with them, how to treat them, and the lesson of kindness comes with these insights.
And yet, we must still deal with the contents of the mind in daily life, and so we cannot ignore them; we must mindfully attend to them. The wise attitude here is one of detached witnessing. This means watching and recognizing the content…s of the mind when they arise without getting involved in them. For instance, you might see a thought arising with a craving for a new purse or a new video game, or a new car. Seeing this, you note that it is colored by craving and that this craving is unpleasant. You see that this unpleasant feeling gives rise to suffering. You don’t try to suppress the craving or the thought, you simply witness it. And as you do, over time, you find that it loses its pull over you and a greater sense of peacefulness replaces it.
We can do this same practice for many of the things that colour our thoughts and cause us suffering. These include aversion (hatred, dislike, disgust, disdain, rejecting reality, etc.), craving (badly desiring something, feeling unable to live without it, deeply wanting something we don’t need, etc.), greed, ignorance (deluding ourselves that impermanent things will last forever, pretending we will never face death, old age, sickness, believing we are separate from and more important than everything else, etc.). The more we witness these colourings, the more their pull on us weakens. The more their pull on us weakens, the more our suffering decreases. The more our suffering decreases, the happier and more peaceful we feel.
Note here that this practice of weakening the colorings that cause suffering by detached witnessing is not incompatible with compassion. We must continue to care about the world, to care about the suffering of its beings, and to do what we can to help them, to relieve their suffering when we can, and when we cannot, at least to minimize our contribution to their suffering. This is a necessary part of our practice as well. A view of life that focuses only on ‘my peace and happiness’ and excludes and ignores that of all other beings remains ignorant, out of line with reality, and based on the delusion of separate existence. So, we must continue to care as part of our realization of interdependence and seeing the value of all beings.