Saturday, June 27, 2020

This is Enough
(Meditation for Sunday June 28th)



This is Enough

Over the past few months we have all experienced some 'separation from the loved.' For each one of us there have been things that we 'normally' would do which we have been unable to do. The scale of this separation is different for all of us - for some of us it has just been the inability to see friends, attend meetings or go to restaurants. For others the separation has been more profound with the loss of health, loved ones or livelihood.

In the First Noble Truth we are taught that 'separation from the loved is dukkha.' Dukkha is often translated as suffering but carries a deeper, more psychological meaning that doesn't really translate to English. My first teacher used to use the rather unwieldy translation 'unsatisfactoryness.' When I first moved to the States I realized that Americans have a great word that describes one aspect of it. Separation from the loved sucks.

Separation from the loved causes us to yearn for things to be different. And it is that yearning - not the separation itself - that causes our suffering.

We often go through our lives wishing that things were different, of that we have things that we don't currently have. On our spiritual path we often yearn for something that will take us forward, get ourselves out of whatever particular rut we feel we are in. We have all done it - wished for the right teacher to come along, the experience that will change our lives, the meditation cushion that will cure our sore legs, the book that will bring about our enlightenment. All of these things can be wonderful in themselves but yearning for them causes our suffering. Chögyam Trungpa called this 'Spiritual materialism,' where we mistake our desire for things such as teachers or experiences for true progress on the path.

There is a beautiful poem in the Pali scriptures that tells the story of Kassapa, a monk living alone with so little he gladly receives alms from lepers. Yet he expresses joy in what he has, and says:

This is enough for me—
    desiring to do jhāna,
    resolute, mindful;

Here jhāna means mind training or meditation. He didn't need a fancy new cushion, didn't need the latest book by the teacher du jour, didn't yearn for the retreat that would change his life. What he had was his practice, and that was enough. I highly recommend you read the beautiful translation by Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu here. It will come as no surprise to you that Kassapa became enlightened.

So what does this mean for us? None of the examples I have given - teachers, cushions, books, meetings - are bad. In fact they are all wonderful things that can greatly help us on our path. But yearning for them, desiring them can actually cause suffering. We can spend so long searching for them that we completely miss the point and fail to work with what we have. What we have is enough.

Metta, Chris.

I have linked below a fully guided meditation on working with what we have. A few of us have committed to hit 'play' together at 7pm PT on Sunday 28th June. You are welcome to join us if you wish or listen on your own at any time. Please feel free to forward this to anyone you wish.
If the above link doesn't work for you please click here.
Photo by Lucas Sankey on Unsplash




1 comment:

  1. Chris- pls add me to your group contact list. I have been practicing for 12 yrs and teach online for eMindful. Thx -elmo

    ReplyDelete

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