Monday, August 09, 2004
I just would like to say how wonderful it has been to hear from so many of you as well as to have had the opportunity to meet some of you the past two months at various retreats, workshops and classes I have been giving. While I was gone, one correspondent asked if suffering doesn't ultimately depend on how one views the situation. A stimulus, she says, may result in a reaction of suffering in one circumstance and not in another.
This hits the mark exactly, I think. If it is true that our thoughts about a situation determine our actions and the consequences of those actions are determined by the actions themselves, then "Right View" is of paramount importance. In two weeks or so, I will post on The Fourth Noble Truth which, of course is the Path that leads to the cessation of duhkha, and the Buddha placed "Right View" as the very first step! I think this also points to the wonderful teaching/observation made by Charlotte Joko Beck that as we walk along the path of life, we tend to curse the sharp stones underfoot, wishing that the road was smoothly paved. Yet, as our practice matures, we finally start to really look at what we are resisting and find that these stones are priceless gems that offer the opportunity to awaken. It does depend on our view!
I would also like to point out that Thich Nhat Hanh has offered the practice of noticing what is already present in our life that gives us joy. Remembering that "suffering is not enough," he encourages us to look more deeply into the lovely conditions that are here now. For instance, sitting here at the computer, my breath goes in and out. What a miracle! A child smiled to me today as I walked along the street in town, a bright open and incredibly sweet smile based on no conditions or expectations from me. Breakfast tasted so good this morning. I do not have a toothache. Etc.
One of my students came to class today saying that her shoulder was "killing her." I invited her to look deeply into her pain. It turned out that her shoulder caused her discomfort when she held her arm in a particular way and when she attempted to take it through a particular movement. Otherwise, it was fine. We worked with it as it was, and she found some freedom and actually had a heart-opening experience. When we concretize and solidify a pain into an entity, we create duhkha. Almost anyone can bare pain for a moment. When we imagine it going on for minutes, hours, days or the rest of our life, we suffer. But it is like Mark Twain's observation, "My life has been filled with one tragedy after another; most of which have never happened."
One practice we may try is to write down a list of ten things each day that have given us some joy or happiness. Don't think it has to be "BIG THINGS." Pay attention, and you may find that it is hard to limit it to ten things! And please, share any thoughts or insights you have as you cultivate "cessation" (nirodha).
.: posted by Poep Sa Frank Jude 6:24 PM