He Banged! : A Close Encounter with 3UC
- ^He Banged! He Banged!^ : A Close Encounter with 3UC
Walking down some stairs, I accidentally banged a hand on the handrail. Years ago, before I practised any meditation, I would have jumped and yelled in pain. This time, it was different - I was surprised I did not bat an eyelid. I saw, in my mind's eye, a sudden spike of pain ^. I was mindful - not judgemental of whether it was good or bad - though it was definitely painful. Within 2 seconds, I could see the pain subsiding. In about 6 seconds, it faded away totally. I was watching the pain instead of identifying with it. Because I saw the falling of the pain, I automatically prevented any aversion from arising as it disappeared. As the pain was steadily ebbing, I decided it was no big deal. Anyway, since the peak of pain was reached in the moment I banged, all that could follow was its diminishing. The common reaction is to mentally exaggerate or aggravate the physical pain, unwittingly prolonging the pain mentally. The truth is, both physical and mental pains come and go, and are unpleasant only when we cling and label them so. Yes indeed, "Pain is inevitable (in life), but suffering is optional."
What caught was a super brief glimpse of the reality of the 3 Universal Characteristics (ie. The impermanence, dissatisfaction & insubstantiality of mind and matter. See more on 3UC here). In clearly seeing the rise and fall of a feeling, I saw the impermanent nature of physicality and its related mentality. In seeing impermanence, I saw the dissatisfaction (and futility) from trying to grasp. In seeing dissatisfaction, I saw the insubstantiality of mind and matter, including the mind feeling dissatisfaction itself.
Because every experience is only flowing through, nothing should be grasped, as nothing can be grasped at all! Letting go of grasping to anything now is liberation from everything now. We suffer when we have attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain. True happiness comes from neither; it comes from realising equanimity and the emptiness of pain and pleasure. In letting go of wanting to have and to hold, we become free... at least in the moment. When we can see the 3UC clearly from moment to moment, we become free for all time - enlightened!
It is possible to abide in unshakable equanimity when we realise that since life constantly throws waves of pain and pleasure at us, it is pointless to be repeatedly flung up and down by them. It is wiser to stay rooted on the Middle Path of balance, of slanting to neither extreme of pleasure-indulgence or painful self-mortification. If the source of True Happiness is conditional pleasure that comes and goes, attaining True Happiness would be impossible in the fluctuating roller-coaster experiences of life. Thankfully, True Happiness is unconditioned by pain and pleasure - in the equanimity of Enlightenment. Remember - when you make peace with the 3 Universal Characteristics, you make peace with the universe itself!
Notes: Why did it take sudden pain for me to "steal" this glimpse at the 3UC? Because physical pain is more gross than mental pain, thus more noticeable, especially in its changes. Because it was unexpected, my mind was more receptive to living the moment afresh without distractions or the habitual tendency to judge. By the way, we don't really experience the 3UC - instead, we realise we are the 3UC - for as long as the delusion of having a substantial "self" is suspended - before it returns and we see the 3UC as separate from us.