Fortitude in adversity, temperance in prosperity, said Sir Francis Bacon (as mentioned in a recent message – an Elizabethan essayist, moralist, philosopher, courtier, thinker).
Bacon propounded a “middle way” too: stay strong and constant in the face of difficulty, and stay self-disciplined, not avaricious, in the face of abundance. This spirit – the spirit of moderation of the Epicureans, the followers of Epicurus who influenced Bacon. (Our common notion of an “epicurean” as a gluttonous connoisseur of the finer things in life is a vestige of the medieval church’s vilification of epicureanism, which they feared as a dangerous heresy.)
Meditation teacher Jason Siff recommends that if we have a train of thought going on, we try letting it run its course. This may go against some traditional practice advice, but it has its wisdom. We can say thank you to the thought-train, for allowing us to think something through to a point where it reaches a resolution.
Likewise longings, cravings, yearnings, aches – if they appear, try saying thank you, both for showing themselves and for taking advantage of this opportunity to unbind themselves, and to your practice for giving them shelter.
Being misled and deceived by the mind: how do we know if we are getting lost in a labyrinth of our own invention…?
We can go back to the basics. Like the Heart Sutra: form is emptiness, emptiness is form. Or like the Three Marks: all things are “marked” by Impermanence, and by No-self, or lack of intrinsic self-hood or thing-ness. They are therefore Dissatisfying, if we rely on them for our satisfaction.
See these “Marks”, and we can withdraw our projections and desires on the world, and come to rest in the middle, as it were: with the present moment being sufficient as it is. If we see things this way, we are not being misled, and are unlikely to go too far astray.