Sunday, November 8, 2015

Savor It

People want what they don't have. Like a hunting shark, we are constantly on the prowl to consume, obtain, and experience as much as possible. Preferably new stuff.

I suppose that this is a survival mechanism, for the species that sits idly is not likely to compete and survive for long. Natural selection has made us a fickle species. I'm no exception; humans are hard-wired that way. The more we want, the less passive we are, the more likely we are to perpetuate our genes.

But what is good for the species may not be good for the individual. The constant pursuit of growth and self-improvement can make us miserable. This is why the Buddha said that his Dharma flowed against the stream. He taught that we don't need to act on every single impulse that flits into our minds or hearts. Who wants to hear that?

Yet we don't need to become passive either. Life demands that we act, or better put, life is action. There are no alternatives. Even quietude is an action, although not necessarily the most skillful one.

I want a Fluffernutter sandwich but that doesn't mean I must have one. I can watch the impulse arise and then decline, no sooner than it is replaced with another one. Freedom comes when we develop the mental space to choose whether to enact or voice a thought.

Contrary to some teachings, awakening to the Buddha mind doesn't mean uprooting these passions; it just means seeing them. A Buddha is not a super human, but a full human--one who experiences the full range of emotions and thoughts of his or her humanity.

As long as we live, we will continue to be plagued by desires, impulses, and emotions; but they are "plagues" only so long as we fight them. Which is not to say that we must succumb to them. We can accept them for what they are--temporary arisings--without indulging or resisting them.

I'm hungry and would like a Fluffernutter sandwich, yet I know that it's not the best lunch choice. The exciting, plenteous moment occurs in that space between the desire and my decision to act. That boundless emptiness is teeming with possibilities. That's the juicy moments I savor the most.

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