Our sensory experience of the world happens through the mechanics of the five senses – sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. The mind takes it from there and distinguishes or differentiates one thing from another, and applies its will in the form of preferences. Let’s take a simple one. You don’t know an eye on your stove is on, and you put your hand on it. Through touch, you have the physical sensation of pain. Then the mind does its work. “A hot stove is bad.,, causes pain. Don’t touch a hot stove! As a precautionary measure, check the stove to be sure it is off.” Finally that whole experience is filed away as a memory, and it conditions the mind with this piece of understanding. It’s a mind that now understands a hot stove and what it means, especially if you touch it. Because of all this, the habit is developed of being more careful around a hot stove, and certainly not touching the eye if it is on or you suspect it has been on.
So, let’s take another example. You’re at a coffee shop, working on your laptop. You go to the restroom, and when you return you discover that your laptop is gone – it has been stolen. Through sight, you are able to detect that the laptop is gone… it’s not there anymore. So, the mind begins its commentary about the situation:
laptop = expensive possession
laptop = important/personal information and documents
laptop = way of staying connected with people
laptop = significant part of doing your work
laptop = how you pay your bills
laptop = an important form of leisure – music, gaming, videos, etc.
Then the mind moves to stage 2 of the commentary, which is calculating the personal consequences of the stolen laptop. And every one of the consequences falls under the category of “Bad.”
Bad = significant monies must now be spent for a new laptop
Bad = important information and documents are no longer available, and there’s the risk of identity theft, account breaches, etc.
Bad = loss of technological mobility
Bad = contact with friends has been disabled
Bad = you lost a lot of work-related things, and cannot now do any work
Bad = your way of paying your bills has been disabled
Bad = your enjoyment and leisure has been taken away
Then the mind moves to stage 3 – all the emotions associated with these bad things and what they mean or represent. Frustration, fear, anxiety, anger, unhappiness, distress, worry, annoyance, uncertainty, upset, dissatisfaction, discontent, disillusionment, gloom, etc.
Consider the possibility that it would inaccurate for you to assign cause and effect to the situation of your stolen laptop and misery. In other words, the stolen laptop did not cause your misery. A laptop is an object made of various plastic and metal parts that enable a number of functions human beings have found useful. To put all this in perspective, the history of personal computers as mass-market consumer electronic devices effectively began in 1977. About ten years later, laptops became an item of growing interest. So, before that time… there was no mass-market computer or laptop at all.
So, consider that the stolen laptop is not what caused your misery. What caused your misery was what your mind said about what this meant or represented for you. Over time, your mind has been conditioned by all kinds of preferences and attachments. Things have meanings because our mind has learned to differentiate one thing from another, and develop preferences out of them.
Consider the possibility that in the depths of who you are, you are peace, contentment, freedom, and wellness. Consider that this fact about who You are is always true, and that You cannot be disturbed.
Consider the possibility that the depths of the ocean are deep and still, but the winds of a storm can disrupt the surface. A pond can be tranquil deep below, but a rock that is tossed in the pond causes a ripple and disturbance on the surface. That disruption or disturbance on the surface masks the peace deep below.
In the depths of who you are, you are peace, contentment, freedom, and wellness. But then the circumstance of a stolen laptop is like the ocean storm or rick tossed in the pond, disrupting and disturbing the surface. Meanwhile, there is peace deep below.
But consider this alternative. Think of the rock tossed in the pond. A rock doesn’t mean anything, right? I mean, it’s just a rock. You throw it in the pond and it just sinks to the bottom. There’s no other meaning to be had. What if your stolen laptop was like that rock – something that just happens without meaning and sinks to the bottom.
Consider that we are the ones who are creating the disturbance in our lives by the meanings we have attached to the things that happen. The stolen laptop did not cause our misery, what we told ourselves about the stolen laptop is what caused our misery.
You could live without a laptop. Everyone did before 1977. If your laptop is stolen, address the situation skillfully as it requires. That’s all there is to do. That’s all there ever is to do – be present in the moment and respond to situations as they require. I’m not saying that means we won’t feel physical pain by touching a hot stove, or emotional pain when you’ve lost a loved one. But the suffering of our lives is generated by ourselves. We are creating the storms and throwing the rocks ourselves… we are adding the meaning from our preferences and attachments.
What if we could let what happens in life be the rock that has no meaning generated by our preferences and attachments, and just let it sink to the bottom without disturbing the reality of who we are.
I am peace, contentment, freedom, and wellness… with my laptop.
I am peace, contentment, freedom, and wellness… without my laptop.
I am peace, contentment, freedom, and wellness while I am in the process of responding to my stolen laptop as the situation requires.