In the second Noble Truth, the Buddha identified taṇhā – the urge to become, to have or consume more – as a main cause of our subtle discontent and ongoing stress. However, this underlying drive to consume can be observed and then its power diminishes. This is one meaning of “waking up”: becoming free by cutting off the momentum towards unhappiness at its source
If you sleep, restless craving (taṇhā) grows in you like a vine in the forest. Like a monkey in the forest you jump from tree to tree, never finding the fruit – from life to life, never finding peace. If you are filled with this restless craving, your sorrows will multiply like the grass growing after rain. But if you let craving go, your sorrows fall from you like drops of water from a lotus flower. This is good advice and it is for everyone: as the grass is cleared for fresh planting, let go of grasping lest death after death crush you as a river crushes helpless reeds. For if the roots hold firm, the felled tree grows up again. And if restless craving is not uprooted, sorrows will grow again in you.
Advent is traditionally considered a mini desert time, a time of preparation by simplification and reflection, somewhat different to the modern emphases in the weeks before Christmas
There is an ancient wisdom story from the desert fathers:
“Do not feed the heart what does not nourish the heart.”
We need to stop feeding the consumer machine, which tells us our worth by the newest gadget we have purchased, only to throw the last one in an ever-growing landfill. We need to stop perpetuating the cycles of violence by denouncing war but still letting our minds offer relentless judgments about the people we encounter every day.
We go off to our metaphorical deserts and wildernesses to really reevaluate our priorities.
Christine Valters Paintner
You will be shown the way forward when your wagon is overturned
The end of the year in the Christian Calendar. A different rhythm begins tomorrow with the start of Advent
In this world of speed and distraction, choosing to be less busy feels almost countercultural; slowing down, eccentric. Perhaps it is, for there’s no denying the expansive, time-bending effects of awareness. Sometimes, I do call it meditation: I sit cross-legged on a cushion in my yoga room; I set a timer and focus on my breath, bringing my attention to bear on the elusive, invisible third eye in the center of my brow point. These sittings are humbling: My mind sneaks away, I chase it down, lead it back, tie it again and again to my breath. Eventually, if I’m not in a rush to get on to the next thing, a small, silent space clears. I savor the taste of quiet, roll it around on my tongue, feel the day’s contours softening and opening around me.
Katrina Kenison, Magical Journey: An Apprenticeship in Contentment
Psychologist Steve Taylor recalls watching tourists in the British Museum in London who weren’t really looking at the Rosetta Stone…on display in front of them , so much as preparing to look at it later, by recording images and videos on their phones. So intently were they focusing on using their time for a future benefit – for the ability to revisit or share the experience later on – that they were barely experiencing the exhibition itself at all. Of course, grumbling about young peoples smartphone habits is a favourite pastime of middle-aged curmudgeons like Taylor and me. But his deeper point is that we are all frequently guilty of something similar. We treat everything we’re doing – life itself in other words – as valuable only insofar as it lays the groundwork for something else.
from the always interesting Oliver Burkeman, Four Thousand Weeks: Time and How to LIve it
There is a Hindu story about a little fish who went to the Queen of fishes to ask a question. She asked “I have heard of the Great Ocean; mighty and powerful, sustaining all who dwell therein, universally present, yet deep and fathomless. Where is this Great Ocean, and how do I find it?” The Queen replied, “The Great Ocean is everywhere, all around you, within and without. It is sustaining you even now. You exist within it and because of it, and need only accept yourself as you are to know it fully.”
We, like the little fish, exist within enlightenment all the time, unaware of its workings.
There is only one thing to do when we realize we cannot swallow the sea; relax, let go, and simply be one with it. How enjoyable that is! Our relationship to it changes, and it becomes much more personal.
Kyogen Carlson, 1982-2014, Zen Roots