Friday, March 27, 2009

More is Never Enough

The blurb below is from a teaching by Thubten Chodron, from a book called "Tara the Liberator." I find a chord of truth in it.

I often find myself thinking, "Now, if I only had more clients and projects I'd be set." Or, I may think, "if the sun would only come out, I'd feel better, I'm sure."

And then things will come to pass, as I'd hoped. Suddenly I'll get busier, but then I worry about meeting deadlines...or what will (or will not) come in the way of work once my present assignment is over. And, even on the sunniest, warmest days, I've felt unhappy.

I think the true way to happiness, or at least equanimity, is to accept all things as they are in the moment. That's not an easy task, but experience tells me that it gets easier with practice.

More is Never Enough
It's easy to think we're generous and magnanimous people when we're sitting here reading. We think, "I'm not attached. I'd be happy to share whatever I have with others. But should somebody ask us, "May I have the food in your cupboards?" We would probably respond, "No! Why should I give it to you?" Or if somebody took our shoes that we left outside the meditation hall, we would be upset. "Who took my shoes? How dare they! I want them back!"
Fear often lies beneath our excuses. We falsely believe that possessions will bring us security in cyclic existence. In fact, our attachment to them keeps us bound in a prison of dissatisfaction. We constantly crave more and better, yet are never satisfied with what we have.
–Thubten Chodron, from Tara the Liberator (Snow Lion Publications)

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Getting Angry

March 25, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma
One Reason We Get Angry
The trigger for much of our anger is frustrated expectation. We sometimes invest so much of ourselves in a project that when it doesn’t turn out as it should we become irate. All ‘shoulds’ point to an expectation, a prediction for the future. We might have realized by now that the future is uncertain, unpredictable. Relying too much on an expectation for the future, a ‘should’, is asking for trouble.
–Ajahn Brahm, from Opening the Door of your Heart (Lothian Books)
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Attachment to a Friend

Being attached to something or someone feels good at times. But I've discovered that attachment is also very dangerous.

I have a friend who has just come to me with some news about an old love she's reconnecting with from afar -- by phone and mail. They will meet later in the year, and he plans to stay with her for several months.

When she told me about it, I feigned happiness for her. But inside, my gut honest reaction was one of fear. I know why. I am afraid of losing her attention and attachment to me.

Worse, I feel terrible for feeling this way. I also looked forward to seeing her on the weekends, and she'd spend time at my house at the holidays. And I have noticed that she has stopped visiting often.

The source of my anxiety is being left alone.

But maybe I'm reading too much into this. Is my fear of being left alone...of being lonely...real?

While I do feel lonely at times, it is not an eternal, or unchanging state. The Buddhist concept of emptiness says that nothing is inherently real on its own. I am not alone -- in truth. I have some good friends and a wonderful family of brothers, sisters and nieces and nephews. So my fear of loneliness is without solid substance.

So, if my conception of being alone is so frightening; then perhaps I can change my attitude about this, I can make new friends, expand my world a bit. I can build positive states of mind and situations to sustain me.

But still...we are human...and we develop attachments. I am attached to the idea of "always" having my friend around to keep me company. This is understandable, but not realistic.

Things change. Life changes. People move away and die.

Acceptance of this will help. And of course, I'll have to meditate on letting go.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Your Opinions are the Problem

March 16, 2009
From Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he could no longer restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

–From Zen Flesh, Zen Bones, compiled by Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki (Tuttle)