Posted inHenry's Messages

Message from Henry: Is there something wrong with me?

September 27, 2016

…it is nothing more than an insubstantial voice in the mind, a chimera, surrounded by limitless freedom and space.


Here is a common issue that comes up in meditation: our minds are agitated or unsettled, we find ourselves repeatedly taken away from our practice by thoughts, frequently distracted. Sooner or later judgements start to sneak in: this is a bad sit, I’m doing this really poorly, etc.

Often it can transmute into: I should be doing it better, I’m no good at this.

And deep down a thought stirs: is there something wrong with me?

Obviously none of this is a recipe for a feel-good practice session.

First, how to deal with it?

  1. Recognize that two of the three poisons, clinging and aversion, are at work. Their voices are saying: I want that kind of experience, I don’t want this kind. Just to observe that can be a help. In his guidance on meditation practice Buddha wasn’t describing faulty people, he was describing people period. This is how our minds work. Mmmm, I like this! Ugh, I hate that! And on and on.
  2. Accept that the two poisons are active. Allow that to be the case.
  3. Find the internal body sensation that goes along with the clinging and/or aversion. Allow it to be there too.
  4. Remember that meditation is a laboratory. It’s a place where we get to see what’s really going on, without judgement, without preference. We are observers.
  5. By now it’s likely the intensity will have worn off. If not, repeat steps 1 to 4.

Second, does this kind of experience in meditation actually mean there is something wrong with us? By now it’s probably clear that the very question is merely a thought. However it came to arise…

it is nothing more than an insubstantial voice in the mind, a chimera, surrounded by limitless freedom and space.


The beauty of Zen is that our salvation is not isolated or internal – it’s the water jug, some words we hear, a birdsong, the ants, the floorboards, the trees, clouds, mountains and rivers and cities. Our salvation lies in the great beauty all around us. The whole universe is just waiting to be allowed in. It’s just waiting to fall in love with us.


Message from Henry from our September 27, 2016 Newsletter
Image: Timeless Bliss, by Hartwig HKD, CC BY-ND 2.0, from

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