More insightful teaching on the basic human dynamics of “continual movement” beneath a lot of the suffering in the mind, from my favourite source. These dynamics can become more apparent as exterior stimuli are reduced due to the Covid-19 lockdown and we can experience a greater interior restlessness.
We live with many options. If we get bored with looking at a painting, we read something; when that becomes boring, we go for a walk, perhaps visit a friend and go out for dinner together, then watch a movie. The pattern is that each new arising, or “birth” if you like, is experienced as unfulfilling. In this process of ongoing need, we keep moving from this to that without ever getting to the root of the process. Another aspect of this need is the need to fix things, or to fix ourselves — to make conflict or pain go away. By this I mean an instinctive response rather than a measured approach of understanding what is possible to fix and what dukkha (suffering) has to be accommodated right now.
Then there’s the need to know, to have it all figured out. That gets us moving too. This continued movement is an unenlightened being’s response to dukkha. That movement is what is meant by … “the wandering on” – within this life, we can see all these “births,” — the same habit taking different forms. And each new birth is unsatisfactory too, because sooner or later we meet with another obstacle, another disappointment, another option in the ongoing merry-go-round. High-option cultures just give you a few more spins on the wheel.
Ajahn Sucitto, Turning the Wheel of Truth
The ten directions converging,
Each learning to do nothing,
This is the classroom of the Buddha’s training;
Mind’s empty, all’s finished.
P’ang Yün (Layman Pang) died 808, famous lay practitioner of Ch’an
The great Suzuki Roshi’s classic image on how meditation develops space in our lives and allows us work with whatever challenging thoughts arise:
The way to control your sheep or cow is
to give him a large, spacious meadow .
Meditation doesn’t change life. Life remains as fragile and unpredictable as ever. Meditation changes the heart’s capacity to accept life as it is. It teaches the heart to be more accommodating, not by beating it into submission, but by making it clear that accommodation is a gratifying choice.
Sylvia Boorstein, Don’t Just do something, Sit There
He said not “Thou shalt not be troubled, thou shalt not be travailed, thou shalt not be distressed,” but he said, “Thou shalt not be overcome.”
Julian of Norwich
All conditioned phenomena are like a dream, an illusion, a bubble, a shadow,
Like dew or a flash of lightning; This is how you should observe and reflect.
The Diamond Sutra
The first noble truth of the Buddha is that when we feel suffering,
it doesn’t mean that something is wrong.
What a relief.
Suffering is part of life,
and we don’t have to feel it’s happening because we personally made the wrong move.
Pema Chodron, When Things fall Apart
Same message, different traditions, same time period
If people seek peace in outward things, whether in places or in methods or in people or in deeds … however great or of whatever kind all this may be, this is all in vain and brings them no peace. Those who seek thus seek wrongly; the further they go the less they find what they are seeking. They are like one who has taken a wrong turning: the further he goes, the more he goes astray. But what should he do? In truth, if one gave up a kingdom or the whole world and did not give up self, he or she would have given up nothing. But if one gives up oneself, then whatever one keeps, wealth, honour or whatever it may be, still they have given up everything.
Meister Eckhart, German theologian, philosopher and mystic, 1260 – 1328
To study the self is to forget the self.
To forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things
Dogen, Buddhist monk and philosopher, founder of the Soto school of Zen, 1200 – 1253,