We are used to thinking of our feelings and perceptions, whether it’s anger, fear, doubt, likes and dislikes, preferences, stubbornness … whatever, as not just defining who we are but also as a critical part of our defense against what the world throws at us. Some of these emotions makes us feel almost self-righteous, they vindicate how we relate to the world around us.
So when we hear in Buddhist teaching that these feelings and perceptions do not protect us, but in fact harm us, the typical tendency is to push back. Just like we push back when we are taught to accept that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is; we don’t want to accept that things are the way they are. The two are closely related. And so we continue to suffer.
Without that acknowledgment and acceptance, there is no motivation to free ourselves from our ego thinking-mind, to understand that our feelings and perceptions are all just a product of our mind and empty of intrinsic existence,.. and that they are not us and so choose to let them go, not engage them and instead return home to our true Buddha nature. And so we may meditate, we may read spiritual books, and we may experience periods of relative calm or peace, but we will remain subject to the pushes and pulls or our emotions and thus to suffering.