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Mindfulness Matters

The Buddha urged us not to get hooked by greed, desire, aversion, and so forth. Don’t be taken in and away by the temptations of transient things (or confusing them to be anything but transient). The fisher’s hook provides an apt metaphor. The fish gets tricked into thinking the lure is something that it is not. Our fundamental misapprehension of the nature of reality makes us just like the fish — biting into something that is not what it appears to be.

Mindfulness practice offers a variation on this classic metaphor. When we practice, we will get hooked, no doubt. If you’ve attempted praciting this will come as no surprise. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t expect to stay off that hook for long. Fantasies about the future, whether pleasant or unpleasant, commentary about what’s happening now — the littany of “I like” and “I don’t like”–, and review of the past will all be frequent visitors to practice. Follow any of these and you’re on the hook.

Mindfulness practice is the practice of catch and release. When you find yourself on the hook, gently remove the hook from your mouth and throw yourself back into the waters of now. These waters may be calm or turbulent. And it doesn’t matter. Each time you find yourself on the hook, remove it and go back into the water. Don’t be surprised if you have to spend some time flopping on the deck of the boat. As long as you get back in the water that’s what is important.

As you practice you can anticipate the hooks — see that they are lures that take you to places you don’t want to go. Perhaps you can avoid them once in a while. The more you practice, too, the easier it will be to extricate yourself from the hooks. “Oh, I’m on that hook again; no big deal, I’ll just take it out of my mouth; the water of now is waiting for me without judgment (perhaps I can aver self-judgment for being on this silly hook again.”

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