We are born with only one obligation – to be completely who we are. Yet how much of our time is spent comparing ourselves to others, dead and alive? This is encouraged as necessary in the pursuit of excellence. Yet a flower in its excellence does not yearn to be a fish, and a fish in its unmanaged elegance does not long to be a tiger. But we humans find ourselves always falling into the dream of another life. Or we secretly aspire to the fortune or fame of people we don’t really know. When feeling badly about ourselves, we often try on other skins rather than understand and care for our own. Yet when we compare ourselves to others, we see neither ourselves nor those we look up to. We only experience the tension of comparing, as if there is only one ounce of being to feed all our hungers.
Mark Nepo, The Book Of Awakening
If we are silly enough to remain at the mercy of the people who want to sell us happiness, it will be impossible for us ever to be content with anything. How would they profit if we became content? We would no longer need their new product. The last thing the salesman wants is for the buyer to become content. You are of no use in our society unless you are always wanting to grasp what you never have. The Greeks were not as smart as we are. In their primitive way they put Tantalus in hell. [Advertising]…on the contrary, would convince us that Tantalus is in heaven.
February has begun rainy and very wild and windy here in Ireland. I am reminded of how Ryokan worked with the mental energies, thoughts, feelings and moods which passed through his body-mind. We can learn a lot from these monks on how to work in a practical way with our daily experience:
Not being so attached to our facts, or even our “alternative facts”, and how to let go of certain types of thoughts which are just not important.
If someone asks about
the mind of this monk,
say it is no more than a passage of wind
in the vast sky.
Ryokan, 1758 – 1831, Buddhist monk, hermit and poet.