Live Without Judgment:
If we so aspire, we may live without judgment. Our suffering endures because of our unfair expectations of the world. We crave sensations to be satisfactory and yearn for a more fulfilling and straightforward world. However, this attachment to satisfaction causes suffering. Instead of viewing the world how we “want it to be,” we must begin encountering it as it actually is. Once you experience the truth behind sensations, suffering begins to dissolve.
The Challenge of Unsatisfactoriness:
At first, all sensations occurring from the six sense doors (e.g., touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking) appear to be satisfactory. We harbor no difficulties when we see a beautiful piece of art or eat a delicious meal. Yet, even with the most enjoyable experiences, we suffer because of our implicit bias of how the world “should be.” We assess the world harshly, believing we’re the all-knowing judge of what is “good” and “bad.” To remove this level of suffering, we must accept the reality of sensations. They simply come, do their thing, and vanish away forever. As we continue to grow within our meditative practice, our understanding of these sensations improves. We begin to notice our suffering comes not from the sensations themselves but our flawed perception of them. Eventually, we experience the reality of sensations and remove ourselves from this concept of judgment.
The Practice of Unsatisfactoriness:
Similar to the practice discussed in The Fundamental Skills of Mediation, we begin with concentration. Settle into a relaxed position and count ten breaths. There’s no rush here, and in your mind, it may sound like, “inhale-one, exhale-one…” and so on. Once you’re able to get through ten full breaths without distraction, begin noting your abdomen’s physical rising and falling. Whenever you experience the rising and falling of the abdomen, note “rising, rising, rising, falling, falling falling.”
At this point, it’s common to find yourself overwhelmed with distractions. You may feel a restlessness in the body or diverted by daydreams. To counterbalance these distractions, begin noting them as well. Should you be noting the rising of the abdomen and become distracted by the sound of a siren, you may note, “rising, rising, siren, siren, siren.” Fixate your attention on the siren and note it responsibly. When completed, return to the rising of the abdomen. You’ll find as you carefully begin to note the distractions, they fall away indefinitely.
Once most of the distractions have fallen away, and you remain entirely fixated on the abdomen’s rising and falling, begin separating the mental sensations from the physical. For example, before every physical experience of the abdomen’s rising, it is preceded by mental desire and proceeded by mental noting. Begin separating these mental sensations and notice their chain of causation. You may note this as “desire, rising, noting,” and so on. With practice, you’ll begin to notice how desire causes the physical sensation, so too, this causes the mental noticing. At first, this is very difficult. Break it down into sections and practice daily.
At this point, your level of concentration becomes powerful. Begin noting these sensations tightly and analyze them. If the sensations are satisfactory, why do they not hold up to the truth? Why do they appear to be permanent and self when they so clearly are not? Why do we cling to this false reality? Continue monitoring these sensations and seek out the reasoning behind your sticking to them. Do this until the false reality begins to fall apart.
The Lesson of Unsatisfactoriness:
Continue nothing unsatisfactoriness, not only within the rising and falling of the abdomen but everything else as well. Whether through one of the six sense doors (e.g., touching, seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, thinking), fear, misery, disgust, or even desire, notice how these sensations are not you and then immediately disappear. As your practice continues to grow, new types of sensations will appear. These too will at first seem to be part of you and permanent, and you’ll continue learning the lesson over and over again until it permeates everything within your awareness. Just as you once crawled and now walk; so too, once you discover the unsatisfactoriness of sensations, you’ll never view the world the same way again.