Tag: desire

The End of Suffering #1 – Right Understanding

In my last post Root of suffering according to the Buddha, it was declared by the Blessed One that desire was the root of suffering. However, there is one exception and that is when desire is used to understand the dhamma. In one of the discourses from the Pali Canon, where the Buddha speaks about the steps towards the realization of truth he states:

“Desire is most helpful for application of the will, Bharadvaja. If one does not arouse desire, one will not apply one’s will; but because one arouses desire, one applies one’s will. That is why desire is most helpful for application of the will.”

(from MN 95; Canki sutta, II 168-77)

One might infer that desire is a double-edged sword; maybe one edge is the desire that causes suffering and the other edge a desire that can be applied for good. Is this possible? You may have a desire to help others, be of service, learn the dhamma, or a desire to end suffering for sentient beings. I actually prefer the word craving, as to extinguish all desires especially those that are focused on positive outcomes would seem nearly impossible. Craving while a synonym for desire seems to have a more sinister connotation at least in my mind. Think about it in these terms:

  • A heroin addict craves a fix
  • An alcoholic craves a drink
  • I am craving ice cream

Craving seems a bit stronger when associated with some form of addiction. Maybe we can just accept that all desires will not result in suffering, but there is always the danger that what we thought of as a healthy desire may someday result in suffering. I just wanted to clarify that the Buddha did have different interpretations of the word desire. Sometimes it is just better to consider that the suffering we experience has its roots in desire and craving, but is often caused or manifested in attachment.

As we know from the Buddha’s teaching the cessation of suffering is the Noble Eightfold Path. In this series of blog posts, I would like to explore each of the factors of the Eightfold Path as they apply to ending suffering and how they address attachment. In this blog post, we will start with Right Understanding sometimes referred to as Right View.

I’m going to use a definition from the Tricyle.org website (reference at the end of this post), which I feel is a good description of what Right Understanding (Samma ditthi) is:

“Right understanding is the understanding of things as they are, and it is the four noble truths that explain things as they really are. Right understanding therefore is ultimately reduced to the understanding of the four noble truths. This understanding is the highest wisdom which sees the Ultimate Reality. According to Buddhism there are two sorts of understanding. What we generally call “understanding” is knowledge, an accumulated memory, an intellectual grasping of a subject according to certain given data. This is called “knowing accordingly” (anubodha). It is not very deep. Real deep understanding or “penetration” (pativedha) is seeing a thing in its true nature, without name and label. This penetration is possible only when the mind is free from all impurities and is fully developed through meditation.”

Right understanding helps us see the cause of suffering allowing us to understand how our craving and clinging are actually harming us. Without “right understanding” we would be just tossed about in life, blindly reacting to everything, and being completely oblivious to what is causing our suffering. If you are doing this yourself then “right understanding” is the prescription, but I suspect you are not or you probably would not be reading this blog post.

Once you start to really understand what is causing your suffering you can begin to either avoid the attachment or at least lessen the impact of it. As sad as the loss of a loved one that might include a child, spouse, or parent can be “right understanding” will at least arm you with an understanding of impermanence, which might lessen the attachment you feel. This is always difficult to comprehend as you might think the dhamma is turning you into some cold nonfeeling person who is completely free of attachment. This will not happen to you and when you are faced with the mortality of your loved ones, you will be compassionate and loving to those that are suffering from the loss.

True “right understanding” helps you to see things as they really are, which will take some of the tragedy out of life. I will give you a brief example of where a lack of right understanding led to a lifelong scaring of a person. My father in law worked for a well-known drug company starting with them very early in life. He was very loyal to the company, but when he was about 50 years old the company terminated him and a number of other employees. Fortunately for him, he received a generous pension something that is almost unheard of today. Instead of seeing this as just another bump in the road or something that happens when you work for a corporation he took it as a personal attack. He is in this ’80s now, and he has never forgiven the company, and in fact, he never went back to work. Those of us that do not possess “right understanding” will encounter one round of suffering after another, blaming themselves, or someone else for the pain they feel during their lives.

Cultivate some measure of “right understanding” and your sense of attachment will diminish over time and then you will suffer less. In my next blog post, I will delve into how “right thought” can be an asset in your quest to end suffering for yourself and others.

Namaste

Reference: https://tricycle.org/magazine/noble-eightfold-path/

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Root of suffering according to the Buddha

This little graphic above is a quote I shared on Instagram. In my previous post, I wrote about the Cause of Suffering from my own experience. Here I would like to discuss the root of suffering as spoken by the Buddha from the Pali Canon one of the earliest discourses on what the Buddha actually said.

The backdrop to this discourse occurred when the Blessed One was dwelling in a town of the Malans named Uruvelakappa. The Bhadraka the headman approached the Blessed One and he said to him “It would be good, venerable sir, if you would teach me about the origin and passing away of suffering.”

The Buddha goes on two provide three examples that illustrate how desire is the root of suffering:

  1. The people of Uruvelakappa
  2. The headman’s son
  3. The headman’s wife

The premise here is for those that the headman holds desire and attachment, will ultimately cause suffering if they were executed, imprisoned, fined, or censured. For those where there is no desire or attachment, there is no suffering. Here is an excerpt from (SN 42:11; IV 327-30)”

“What do you think headman? Before you saw your wife or heard about her, did you have any desire, attachment, or affection for her?”

“No, venerable sir.”

Then was it, headman, only when you saw her or heard about her that this desire, attachement, and affection arose in you?”

“Yes, venerable sir.”

“What do you think, headman? If you wife were to be executed, imprisoned, fined, or censured, would sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair arise in you?”

“Venerable sir, if my wife were to be exectured, improsoned, fined, or censured, even my life would seem futile, so how could sorrow, lamentation, pain, dejection, and despair not arise in me?”

“In this way too, headman, it can be understood: ‘Whatever suffering arises, all that arises rooted in desire, with desire as its source; for desire is the root of suffering.'”

In this example from the Pali Canon, the Buddha is posing the question to the headman what if one of those terrible things (execution, imprisonment, fined, or censured) happened to people of his town that he knew and cared about, his son, or his wife. So, in this case, the word desire is also synonymous with people that the headman is attached to.

This desire or attachment may also be applied to material things, status, or power. Think about it for a while. Our whole society fosters desire, claiming that desire is necessary for achievement whether it be a new home, a new car, or a new business or job. We are told that desire equates to achievement, but never to suffering. People with great desire are put on a pedestal and celebrated for the desire that drives their work ethic and attainment of material things.

The Buddha was not wrong, desire begets attachment and attachment will only lead to suffering. What happens when the new car gets damaged in an accident, your son is killed in a war, and your parents die. Even the mere fact that you desire immortality due to your attachment to your life and others will ultimately lead to suffering. Understanding that desire will cause suffering is the first step in the abandonment of suffering.

Namaste

Reference: In the Buddha’s Words, An Anthology of Discourses from the Pali Canon, edited and introduced by Bhikkhu Bodhi

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Desire

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Desire

Desire stands alone

Desire determines your success

Desire can create discipline or destroy it

leaHealthy desire begets achievement

Un-healthy desire results in destruction

Desire fuels persistence

Lack of desire results in boredom and the mundane

A leader without desire is just a manager

What do you desire?

 

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Removing your desire

I just love this quote from Epictetus as it highlights the fact that all those cravings you seek to fulfill only detract from your freedom, in fact, they begin to enslave you. The examples are endless, but let’s take a look at a few:

  • I make a modest income, but I want a $60,000 sports car, the dollar figure doesn’t really matter and is somewhat relative. I go to the bank and now have a car loan for $1.200 a month for 5 years. I think I look cool driving around town, but instead of investing that money, which might ultimately provide some actual freedom, I am a slave to my car loan.
  • I decide I need to make more money, so I work harder and get promoted, but now instead of working 40 hours a week, I am working 60 hours a week. The hobbies I once had have been shelved and I hardly see my family anymore, but I make another $20,000 a year. I find that the additional money doesn’t do much for me, as I really don’t have time to spend it. My health and relationships are suffering and instead of freedom I just imprisoned myself with an occasional furlough called a vacation.
  • I decide now that I am a wealthy man that I need to upgrade my spouse by marrying a much younger woman or maybe having an affair. I end up sneaking around and find a younger woman and start a relationship (affair). My wife finds out, kicks my sorry ass out of the house, and calls an attorney. Six months later my estate is cut in half and I now live in a small apartment. Oh, and by the way, the younger woman walked out some time ago, when she realized I am really not that wealthy. Of course, my children think I am an asshole and I no longer have my wonderful wife to grow old with and who has been taking care of things for me as she did in the past.
  • I decided that to help me forget all the stupid decisions I made based on my desires; I would drown myself in alcohol on the weekends. Instead of helping me forget about my bad decisions, or God forbid doing something about them, I am now an addict. I did not free my mind and instead enslaved my body to what has become a serious addiction.

You might think these are silly examples of cravings that enslaved a person, but I have seen all of these as pretty common human behavior. Check yourself and determine if the things you desire are healthy and enhance your freedom or if they are imprisoning you. For most of us the more we desire, the less freedom we experience. The freest among us often have the least in material possessions and want but little. In fact, these desires that you might even consider to be fairly positive such as exercise or even enhancing your knowledge come with a price and can become an addiction.

If you want freedom desire less, appreciate what you have, and stop craving for things you don’t have.

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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The Happiness Illusion (updated)

 

happiness is not good enough

“Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.”
― Ernest Hemingway, The Garden of Eden

You are constantly bombarded by self help gurus that preach the mantra that happiness is the primary goal for you life. Take some time to observe your own life and calculate the amount of time each day or week where you feel truly happy. I’m not talking about the times you feel content, challenged, or at peace, but instead the emotion of feeling very happy or elated. If you are forever chasing some state of happiness where the majority of the hours of the day are filled with happiness, then you are setting yourself up to experience yet another emotion, which will be a feeling of disappointment. You immediately jump to the conclusion that there is something wrong with me. I must be doing something wrong or I would be happy all the time, instead of the brief forays into happiness I am currently experiencing.

I’m guessing your day is filled with time spent in some or all of the following emotions:

  • Feeling anxious.
  • Frustration with yourself, others, or some man made process or rule.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and/or people you work with.
  • Loving others or feeling loved.
  • Feeling the fear of the unknown or known.
  • Anger or being pissed off about something or someone.
  • Self loathing for not living up to your own expectations or the expectations of others.
  • Envy for things or envious of what others have.
  • Fleeting moments of bliss or happiness.
  • Satisfaction with accomplishing something or learning something new.
  • Feeling uninspired or tired.
  • Feeling appreciated or unappreciated.
  • Desiring stuff, money, sex, or some mind altering drugs or alcohol.

I could go on and on with this list of emotions we experience often on a daily basis. We are filled with all these thoughts that affect our well being and all the yoga and mediation in the world will not eradicate them from your mind, believe me I’ve tried. Give yourself a fucking break, you are an emotional bundle of somewhat uncontrollable thoughts and you know it. Don’t and I mean do not let some dumb ass on YouTube tell you that if you buy this, or practice this, all of this will go away, and your life will become one big vacation. You can’t exist in some state of continuous bliss; you are not the Dali Lama. Sure you can seek enlightenment and end all this suffering and discontent, and I hope you achieve it someday, but on the off chance you don’t then you are going to have to learn to live in the world you currently inhabit.

I think happiness is overrated, there are many other emotional states that should occupy your mind; those that are more valuable to you and to others. I’m not saying you should live in some state or misery, but chasing a state of happiness is an illusion. Replace that quest with these feelings or life goals:

  • Taking responsibility for you life, your work, and your decisions.
  • Feeling challenged by your work and the fulfillment you feel when you step up to take on the challenge, win or lose.
  • Feeling good about yourself because you are working at being more disciplined.
  • Being grateful for all the shit you have; just look around you and notice the type of life that many are merely existing in, and you will see you have a lot to be grateful for.
  • Developing an appreciation for the people in your life, family, friends, co-workers, and customers.
  • The quiet satisfaction you feel from learning that came from reading, studying, experimenting, watching, and listening.
  • Desiring more from yourself or desiring more from life than you are currently getting. Desiring more for your life is not a bad thing. A lot of great things have been done by people with a burning desire to accomplish something.

Suffering builds character

In fact I would challenge you to consider that happiness as your constant state of mind would put you at a big disadvantage in life when it comes to achieving what you want. You need to experience difficult times, challenges, and a certain amount of pain to grow as a person. Maybe you can be satisfied by all the obstacles you have overcome to be where you are today, instead of wishing for a life of ease and self gratification. If the totality of life consisted of sitting on a beach in the Caribbean and drinking one Margarita after another how happy would you be then?

Think back on all the things you have accomplished, the events in your life that bring back good memories. What about the time you landed that job you wanted, or met that special person, or obtained that degree or certification you worked so hard for. I’ll bet you weren’t sitting around bullshitting yourself in some blissful state of euphoria; instead you got off your ass and took action. Quit wishing for happiness and start doing something constructive; in the long run you will feel a whole lot better about yourself.

I used to watch all this motivational shit on YouTube from Tony Robbins, Jim Rohn, Eric Thomas, Les Brown, and Bob Proctor, but instead of motivating me it made me feel dissatisfied with my work and my life in general. To tell you the truth these people have some good ideas, but ultimately they are trying to sell you one of their books or have you come to their seminar. Meanwhile they make you feel unfulfilled about your life so they can generate more sales and then you just feel like shit when you could have been enjoying the life you have.

You already know what you need to change in your life to progress. You certainly don’t need someone else to tell you the areas of your life that are pretty fucked up.

Let me leave you with this quote from Gary John Bishop that comes from his book UNFU*K Yourself:

I expect nothing and accept everything!

Try living your life for a while expecting nothing and accepting everything that happens to you. If you expect to be happy all the time and can’t accept it when life sucker punches you then you are doomed my friend. Drop the stupid expectations and take life as it is served up to you, then you can at least control the suffering and enjoy the good stuff.

Namaste

What are you waiting for?

 

Wating Game

Like most of us I have deferred doing many things in my life. I tell myself maybe it’s not the right time, not just yet. I tell myself maybe it is too risky or beyond my abilities. I tell myself that it is too expensive or I just don’t have time for it. Unfortunately I have lied to myself and time marches on with me no closer to my dreams.

I tell myself there is lots of time to do that which I long to do in the future. I have focused my thoughts and desires to be something I will attain in the future. My mind does not live in the present it only focuses on the future. I make investments in myself, in others, sometimes financially or physically so that I will have a better future, or so I think. The irony is, there really is no guarantee of the future. The future has yet to happen and it is a figment of my imagination.

Ask yourself is there something you want to do? Maybe you would like to write a book, travel somewhere, have a relationship with someone, start a business, purchase a new home, or find a way to give something back to the world.

What are you waiting for?

 

With no guarantee of the future, all of this waiting for the right time to begin to live the life you want is simply wrong. You don’t know how much time you have left on this earth, so why wait? Here are some examples of deferring to the future:

  • I’ll start that business or buy that thing when I have more than enough money saved, maybe 4 or 5 years from now. Are you really going to wait 4 or 5 years for something you really want to do? Are there no other options?
  • I will stop that addiction (smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling) sometime in the future when the time is just right. Have you noticed the time is never quite right? Will you be better off deferring being free from the addictions that are dragging you down?
  • I don’t have time to work on that book I always wanted to write. I have far to many responsibilities to attend to. If you had all the time in the world what other excuse would you use? Have you ever thought that you have never prioritized your writing over all the other bullshit you think needs to be done?
  • I really would like a better relationship with my significant other, children, siblings, parents, friends, but I’m too busy to call or spend time with them. Do you really want to go to your grave not being present for the people you love?

These are yet a few examples from my own life that plague me; I’m sure you can come up with your own list.

Quit imagining that you have all the time in the world to do the things you want to do, because you don’t. Make at least some effort to prioritize what is important to you and do it. If that means you have to be a little selfish then so be it. Look at your habits and decide do I really need to sit there every night and watch 2 hours of television.

Decide right now that the future is an illusion; begin living in the present and start doing the things you want to do and I mean now!

Stop taking for granted all the wonderful things that are happening around you understanding that tomorrow they become a thing of the past. You cannot wait for something to happen to experience fulfillment, happiness, and joy in your life; decide that the time is now.

happiness-is-now

These things that you want to do or have, may or may not bring the satisfaction you think they will in your life, but by not acting on your desires you will never know.

As human beings we attempt to live our lives in the past, present, and future. We often work in soul crushing jobs so that we can enjoy two or three weeks off. Are you actually working yourself to death for a couple weeks off? You can have a life more fulfilling that that; you were not created to simply settle.

It’s fine to think about what you want to become or have, but don’t stop by just dreaming about it; you must act and you must live in the now.

Namaste

 

 

 

 

 

 

Law of Attraction #2

law-of-attraction-5

In the last post Law of Attraction #1 I attempted to explain my macro level view of the law of attraction. I promised that I would try to explain how the law of attraction can be used to help you be happy and fulfilled in your own life. The overall goal for the law of attraction is for you to be happy with your life and to obtain what you want out of life.

For myself I have used the law of attraction to greatly reduce negative thoughts and increase positive results. Remember the law of attraction isn’t some feel good approach to life, although you will feel much better about yourself and others. The law of attraction is a state of the way things work and will exist and function whether you believe it or not. Here are a few ways to start using it to your advantage:

  • Take some time and think about what you want. These can be material things, something you would like to do, places you would like to live or visit, or work that you enjoy. Examples might include but not limited to:
    • A new car (Mustang GT)
    • My own business
    • Enjoying a vacation in Cancun
    • A fulfilling relationship with my significant other
  • Think about why you want these things in a positive way.
  • Write these things down somewhere that you can see them daily, focus on them, feel yourself receiving them.
    • Maybe you put them on a whiteboard, on paper, or some electronic form (computer, phone, etc.). It must be somewhere that will be visible to you as a reminder to yourself where you will focus your thoughts.
  • Do not think about what you don’t want. This is the hardest part because what you think about will be what you are attracting. Don’t fall into the trap that thinking about what you don’t want will motivate you to achieve something else, instead keep the focus only on what you want.
  • Every time you find yourself focusing on something you don’t want consciously make a shift and focus instead on what you want. This gets easier as time goes by and you begin to catch yourself thinking a negative thought and you will quickly remove it from your focus.
  • Begin to monitor what you are exposing yourself to. For me it was turning off the television so that I wasn’t wasting time watching cable news, which was only creating negative thought patterns. Use that time to feed your mind positive information and focus on what you want to attract.
  • Go with the flow, provide your input and advice, but when people don’t act upon it just accept it. Stop focusing on things you cannot change, go with the path of least resistance, it will always be easier to manifest.
  • Believe in yourself, in your dreams, and in the talents you possess. You are a unique creation and you have an unlimited potential to share your talent with the universe.
  • Finally practice being grateful. Being grateful reinforces the power of the law of attraction in a positive way. The power of expressing gratitude alone will only lead to a happier existence.

I think that is enough for today. I would love to hear what you are doing to use the law of attraction to improve your life. More to come on this wonderful subject.

Namaste

The cause of suffering is tanha

No_Craving_No_Suffering

In the first installment of this series I talked about the 1st Nobel Truth “Life is dukkha” or translated into English as life is suffering. The 2nd Nobel Truth is that the cause of suffering is tanha. Tanha can be loosely translated as desire, but more specifically it is not all desires. For instance it is perfectly good and right to desire peace, enlightenment, compassion, and the feeling of being grateful. Instead the desire that I am referring to could best be categorized as a search for self fulfillment in the forms of ego, acquiring more things,  and feeling superior to everyone else. Anything that the mind uses to cause a separateness from the rest of humanity, often at the expense of others. So it is this selfish desire to separate ourselves from the rest of humanity that causes suffering. Some everyday examples might include:

  • A desire for more material things, a bigger house, a more expensive car, and any other material thing you can think of that you think will satisfy your desire.
  • The constant desire for more wealth focused on a selfish need to help fuel your desire for more material things.
  • The desire to be better than everyone else, or to think you are superior to your fellow man or women.
  • The desire to critique everything and everyone. To find fault in the character and achievements of others.
  • The desire to use your position in life as some form of power to control others.

These are just a few examples of the unhealthy desires we pursue that are no more than selfish cravings as they are focused on satisfying no one but ourselves.

In my next installment will we will look at the 3rd Nobel Truth, which begins to shed some insight into the cure.

Much of what I have written about comes from the principles outlined in the book “Buddhism a Concise Introduction”, which can be purchased at Amazon for a modest price.

http://amzn.to/2b9OWNq

Namaste