Be friendly with the many parts of your mind | Worship

By Sal Barba | Aug 02, 2017

“When we show up, and are present to the here and now, we receive the blessings of the day!”

It is a blessing to have the potential to understand what our mind is, and how it functions through our skandhas. We cannot untangle the self without being present and aware of our skandhas.

In my last column, I provided you with an over-arching perspective on what the skandhas are. This time, let’s move a little further into the skandha of consciousness.

When we reflect upon our six senses of consciousnesses, sometimes we discover conflicting opposites of emotion and feeling. Emotion is more of an obvious experience than a feeling. When we experience emotion, sometimes it is intense hurt, anger or excitement.

However, when we experience a feeling, it arises from a subtle or not-so-subtle sensation directly related to our relationship with our environment. We experience a feeling in our body, and we attend to the feeling through mindful awareness. A friendliness must arise to explore more deeply into a feeling through a welcoming, compassionate attitude.

We are not independent from our environment, even though many of us would like to think so. If we were separate from our environment, we would be unable to eat, breathe, sleep, embrace others or sustain ourselves.

Consider from this perspective where the language that we speak comes from, and how we read and write? We are not self-produced and independent from our parents, and others. We are miles away from singularity. We are not independent and unaffected by environments. The universe does not revolve around us.

If we look carefully without distraction, we may discover that what appears is a dynamic whole that lives in conceptual parts. We sleep, we drink, we expel our waste, we dream and we wake from our sleep. We have emotional, psychological and physiological dimensions to our human selves.

Although we can sort all the parts out conceptually, we really don’t live it, even though at times we become conflicted with the parts of our whole. Our parts can also cooperate with us, and flow in rhythm with our lives.

For those of you who are serious about learning from your skandhas, you will find that insight into your own psychological and physical processes is not an end in itself, but a beginning. This is how it is when we examine how our mind works.

The process we enter into is not just an intellectual experiment or an assignment that we are given by a teacher or wise friend. The skandhas are just a map to help us learn more about how we habitually refer to our selves as a “me,” or how we refer to our “mind.”

Gene Gendlin, a dear teacher of mine who was a master at being present to a person’s inner process, would often say, “be friendly to that place in you that is tender there.”

Each moment that unfolds from your experience is our opportunity to be friendly with ourselves, to welcome ourselves, our feelings, our minds and those who enter our worlds. They too, just like you, long to be felt by the other. The key to working with your internal process is really discovered in the innate warmth and friendliness within your mind.

You really don’t have to be more than who you already are. The real challenge we all face is making friends with the mind and body that already is. This is the challenge, and this is the preciousness that lives within all of us.


Sal Barba has been a practicing Buddhist for over 40 years. He integrates Buddhist psychology into his profession as a licensed psychotherapist.

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