Memorable Quote: “The mind has no shame. It will do anything to get your attention.”
Synopsis: Ruth contrasts the “big” dukkhas (suffering), such as illness and death, with the smaller kinds of dukkha, those moments when you say “Damnit!” These smaller sufferings are moments of not getting what you want, at any particular point of the day when things were not what we expected. Our fist clenches, our stomach tightens in a knot, and our whole body contracts. This plants seeds in our bodies, and keeps us in the habit of thinking, over and over again, “this shouldn’t be this way.”
To rise above these petty annoyances, Ruth suggests that we separate our “knowing” mind, which is spacious, abundant, and groundless, with the everyday activity of our mind. The knowing mind is constant and at peace, while the everyday activity of our mind comes and goes and is noisy. The active mind’s job is to be busy 24/7. Through mindfulness practice, we can see the difference between this frenetic activity and the underlying calm, so that we can remain clear in our intentions. Most importantly, we can see that the daily struggles are impersonal, fleeting, ever-present, and we can meet them without clinging or judgment. We can meet them simply with presence.
I like: I like Ruth’s use of the word “impersonal” in describing life. I have a tendency to take things personally, and it can be helpful to take the perspective of things just happening, not necessarily happening to “me” or my ego.
I wish: I wish Ruth would have spoken more about the bodily manifestations of our mental suffering. What does letting go feel like in the body? How is that an improvement over “damnit” dukkha?
More about the Speaker: Ruth King is an Insight Meditation Teacher and Emotional Wisdom author and consultant. King teaches at Insight Meditation communities nationwide. She is a guiding teacher at Insight Meditation Community of Washington, DC, and a member of its Board of Directors. Read more at ruthking.net