The opening lines in the ancient Chinese poem, “Affirming Faith in Mind,” state, ”The great way is not difficult for those who do not pick and choose. When preferences are cast aside, the way stands clear undisguised. If you would clearly see the truth, discard opinions pro and con. To founder in dislike and like is nothing but the mind’s disease. And not to see the way’s deep truth disturbs the minds essential peace.”
When we dislike things, we are placing a label on them, which as I discussed in my blog post, “Going Through Life With Blinders - The Obstruction of Labels,” prevents us from experiencing things, situations, people as they really are. It creates a reality which has no inherent existence.
While there is no shortage of things that we apply labels to automatically, the label “dislike” is more insidious because it is closer to our ego and thus harder for us to see objectively. But it is no different from any other label. It controls our reaction to things and becomes a source of frustration and anger.
When you are able to experience or observe something without the intervention of thought, without the application of the label “dislike,” you will still be aware of the attributes of the thing, situation, or person that you find troubling, but you will react to that awareness calmly, with compassion, and without avoidance. When, however, you apply the label “dislike,” your reaction will be the polar opposite; it will control you.
Freeing yourself from the intervention of these knee-jerk mental reactions is a very difficult thing for as with all elements of our thinking mind they remain a part of us forever, even after we’ve surrendered our ego to our true Buddha nature and turned our will and our life over to the care of our true Buddha nature. That is why they arise virtually every moment when we are not present, when we are not aware.
And that is why we work to increase the portion of each day that we are aware. But as I said in my earlier post, for now, the first step is to realize, at least intellectually, the truth that all of our perceptions are labels, dependent on our learned experience, and that they are obstructions that prevent us from seeing things as they really are.
With that knowledge, you’ll find that you will start having moments when you glimpse that there is something there other than what you are perceiving through the filter of dislike. And you will be more open to not avoiding it, to not running from what is, to having compassion. And with that you will be more free of frustration and anger.