Saturday, January 2, 2016

If This, Then That

... If This, Then That...

Mantra-like sayings can be useful to summarize complex ideas and apply them in a quick, mindfulness way.

One that I have been using a lot in my daily life lately is "if this, then that" -- which, yes, is like the web service, IFTTT.

I use "if this, then that" to remind myself of the ultimate union of all phenomenon - that I am not separate from all that I experience. Specifically, I use it to mean 'if this is my experience now, then that (the other) is also my experience'.

Most often, I use it when I encounter some uneasiness in my relationship with another person or with things around me.

For example, if I find that I am annoyed by some unknown person's loud voice or aggressive driving, I will think "if this, then that". Similarly, if I become frustrated that my computer is not working the way I think it should be working, I will stop and think "if this, then that" -- or at least I do that some of the time.

"If this, then that", or sometimes "when this, then that", has two effects:

(1) It making me remember that there is no duality -- that I could be that other person in another time and space, just as easily as that person could be me. It reminds me that everything in my awareness around me is a mirror of myself, with a lesson for me to learn.

(2) It turns my attention away from the other and to my own experience of annoyance or frustration, helping me to detach from those aversions, or at least to not let them consume me in such a way that I might act unwisely and turn them into a karmic (stressful) situation with long-term impacts on my mind and body.

"Not Two"

I had earlier heard (on a dharma talk podcast) a similar mantra-like saying, "Not Two", which basically has the same idea. It is used to stop the mind whenever one notices it creating a duality of me and other, usually accompanied by feelings of desire/envy, hatred/dislike, or confusion/wrong thinking (the defilements). (I think "Not Two" was recommended by Joseph Goldstein, but I am not positive about that.

I tried "Not Two" for a while. It works, and I still use it at times because it is shorter to say. But I use If this, then that" more.

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”- Thích Nhat Hanh

[updated 18Jan2016]

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