Should we aim to delete ALL habit-patterns?


The climax from the Day One Discourse you will hear at the 10 Day Vipassana Retreat:

You notice what kind of mind I am carrying.

You are asked to observe your respiration. You observe hardly two respirations and gone—this mind is gone somewhere.

And after a long time you realize, “Oh! Where it has gone? I was here to observe my breath. And again you bring [attention to your breath]. Again after one or two breaths gone somewhere. And again you realize, and bring it back.

Not only that, when you find this mind wandering again and again, a flickering mind, you feel so agitated. “What kind of mind I am carrying? It cannot work this ordinary work—just to observe. It has nothing to do. The explanation is there [just observe]. It is not a breathing exercise that you get fatigued because of that. It is there. And your job is just to observe.

It’s just happening. You’re sitting on the bank of the river. The river is flowing. What do you have to do?

And still—it cannot do even this easy job. You feel very frustrated. You generate agitation, irritation, …

Oh no, no. Then you are going against the technique. This is your own habit-pattern of the mind, that when something unwanted happens, you react. You react with irritation, with agitation, with negativity. This is what you’ve started doing.

Now you want the mind to get concentrated. And look—it is not concentrated. So you start reacting. Oh no, no, no. The technique wants you [to] just accept the fact: “Mind has wandered away.” At this moment, the mind has wandered away. Smiling, we accept it, wandered away. So what? The breath is still there. I come back to breath. Come back to breath. Again it wanders away. Again, come back to breath.

Very soon you will realize that as soon as you accept the fact the mind has wandered away you won’t have to pull it back to the breath. It just comes. I will come automatically. You just accept the fact: “Mind has wandered away”—enough! It will come back to the breath.

S. N. Goenka, Lecture 1 [39:10–41:05]

Here is my thought. Killing reactivity is not good. It is not good to unplug your automaticity, your habit patterns—because these are your motivation.

This is the great lesson of kratom. Being satisfied, comfortable, and equanimous is pathological, if you have something you need to do. Like clean your apartment, wash your car, pay your bills, mend or maintain your social life, and finish your projects.

Kratom forcefully delivers you into overwhelming equanimity. And that can be a nightmare. What good is equanimity when everything around you in on fire?

Kratom does this. And Vipassana?
Kratom does this. And Vipassana?

But wait. Many of our dependable reactions suck, in that they create more problems. For these, Vipassana should be practiced until they peel off and no longer choreograph our behavior.

But the good automations? Shouldn’t these remain, or even be reinforced? Yes.

So maybe the technique should be this:

  1. Practice Vipassana and review all automatic motivating reactions.
  2. Skip over the good ones.