If we look according to reality, without trying to sugar things over, we’ll see that it’s really pitiful and wearisome. Dispassion will arise. This feeling of ‘disinterest’ is not that we feel aversion for the world or anything; it’s simply our mind clearing up, our mind letting go. We see things as not substantial or dependable, but that all things are naturally established just as they are. However we want them to be, they just go their own way regardless. Whether we laugh or cry, they simply are the way they are. Things which are unstable are unstable; things which are not beautiful are not beautiful.
So the Buddha said that when we experience sights, sounds, tastes, smells, bodily feelings or mental states, we should release them. When the ear hears sounds, let them go. When the nose smells an odour, let it go…just leave it at the nose! When bodily feelings arise, let go of the like or dislike that follow, let them go back to their birth-place. The same for mental states. All these things, just let them go their way. This is knowing. Whether it’s happiness or unhappiness, it’s all the same. This is called meditation.
Meditation means to make the mind peaceful in order to let wisdom arise. This requires that we practise with body and mind in order to see and know the sense impressions of form, sound, taste, smell, touch and mental formations. To put it shortly, it’s just a matter of happiness and unhappiness. Happiness is pleasant feeling in the mind, unhappiness is just unpleasant feeling. The Buddha taught to separate this happiness and unhappiness from the mind. The mind is that which knows. Feeling2 is the characteristic of happiness or unhappiness, like or dislike. When the mind indulges in these things we say that it clings to or takes that happiness and unhappiness to be worthy of holding. That clinging is an action of mind, that happiness or unhappiness is feeling.
When we say the Buddha told us to separate the mind from the feeling, he didn’t literally mean to throw them to different places. He meant that the mind must know happiness and know unhappiness. When sitting in samādhi, for example, and peace fills the mind, then happiness comes but it doesn’t reach us, unhappiness comes but doesn’t reach us. This is to separate the feeling from the mind. We can compare it to oil and water in a bottle. They don’t combine. Even if you try to mix them, the oil remains oil and the water remains water, because they are of different density. ~Ajahn Chah