If we weren’t already in touch with an inherent sense of well-being, how could we know we are feeling miserable?

A student asks:

I was wondering if you could help me understand something that comes under ‘distorted manifestations of sensitivity’ in the Discovering the Heart of Buddhism course.

You say that the fact that we feel out of touch with a sense of well-being demonstrates our connection to that very sense.

And, by turning towards the feeling of being denied a sense of well-being, that feeling can communicate to us the nature of our own inherent sense of well-being?

Lama Shenpen replies:

This is a very interesting question in fact and very important.

If you think about it, how do you know that you feel miserable and out of touch with a sense of well-being? What is that miserable feeling or that dead, lifeless, depressed, can’t see the point in anything feeling? When you really turn your attention to it, what is it?

Isn’t it a kind of ‘wish things felt different somehow’ –  a sort of uneasy feeling? If so what does it want? What are you wishing for? What would you rather feel? I think you might find that what you are wishing for is something like ease, comfort, meaning, happiness, relaxation, warmth, love or whatever.

So now turn towards that, whatever it is that you want. How are you experiencing it? How do you know what it is that you want? What would it feel like to have it? What does that feeling that you want feel like now as you link into the sense of its absence?

It is good to just relax into this exercise and just really explore and notice what is going on. It is very important to notice that you do actually have a very strong sense of something and that it’s important to remember that.

That is your sensitivity* and it wants to push and guide you towards itself – it is you and it is working for you somehow and it is reaching out the whole time for the solution, for a way to link up and express itself, for a way to find an appropriate response.

It will know when the response is appropriate. What you need to do is to respect that it is there and allow it to work for you, allow it space and time to express itself.

Lama Shenpen Hookham

[*Sensitivity, along with Openness and Clarity are the three inseparable qualities of our true nature – our Buddha Nature, as well as the nature of the Universe itself.]


Lama Shenpen’s students are all studying the Living the Awakened Heart Training – a structured, comprehensive, supported, distance learning programme in Buddhist meditation, reflection and insight. The training, which is open to all, brings the profound Dzogchen and Mahamudra teachings to a Western audience in an experiential, accessible way, through spiral learning. Find out more and how to join at www.ahs.org.uk/training

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