Buddhist practice is always about going back to the basics. I was reminded of that again the other day while meditating. When I said my mantra about letting go of my feelings and perceptions ... the 5 skandhas ... I felt a distinct push-back. My mind didn’t want to let those feelings go.
And as I meditated further I came once again to the realization that my ego-mind does what it does, because it thinks it is protecting me. Fear protects me from doing things my ego-mind thinks I shouldn’t do. My ego-mind doesn’t realize and isn’t open to the fact that it is actually harming me. That’s why it’s so hard to let go or surrender these aspects of the ego. (See my post, “The Mystery of the Ego - An Answer.”)
On the other hand, I was aware that there was no such push-back, I had total faith, in saying that I know that whatever life throws my way, all will be well because I will always return to my true Buddha nature, be present and at peace, and find happiness in each moment. I have total faith that I have a choice each day ... if I really want to be at peace and find happiness in each moment, then I will walk the path of the Buddha as best I can and not be drawn into the web of my mind which only leads to anxiety, fear, and frustration.
The one reaction is based on my ego-thinking mind, the other is based on my faith and on my experience of being present. That brought me to an understanding that I again came to some time in the past. (I and most of us unfortunately often tend to forget the understandings that we have come to at those times when we are under stress and need those understandings the most.)
And that is that the way to move forward, to plan for the future, is not to “think” about the future. Because that inescapably involves using the ego-mind and no matter how hard one tries, one’s learned experience, fears, anxieties, anger, and all the other negative drivers will take control of the process.
Instead we must plan for the future while being present. We must make our decisions, decide on our direction, based on our experience right now in the present. And move forward by doing what we can in each present moment to achieve that. But all the while maintaining a state of equanimity, saying that, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t happen, that’s OK too.” (See my post, “As a Buddhist, How Do You Think About the Future Revisited - Planning Without Thinking.”)
Since most of us are not enlightened, being always aware of these currents within ourselves is critically important as we walk the path. It’s all a matter of awareness. If we are aware, we can be present and have the power to control the thoughts we think, the words we speak, the actions we take. We have a choice to make. But if we are not aware, we are lost in the vortex of our mind, a captive of all the negative energy that has resulted from our learned experience.