Readiness to "Get It"

A few days ago, I wrote about the importance of stillness during meditation practice. A wonderful summary: “until there is no movement to escape this environment for a better spiritual setting, we will continue to suffer.”

Rodney Smith. "Stepping out of self-deception. The Buddha's liberating teaching of no-self." Shambhala, Boston, 2010.

How does our lack of stillness manifest in daily life? Even during times of minimal stress, if we're observant enough, we notice that we remain anxious, restless, stressed about we don't know what. We're itching to do something, even when we have nothing whatsoever to do; raring to go somewhere, even when we have nowhere to go.

We may assume that life would be easier & less complicated if only we had more money, yet we hear how much suffering some people endure (nasty family disputes, divorces, sickness, addictions, suicides), despite great wealth. No matter the external circumstances, we're always seeking something in the future that we hope will make & keep us happy. The hope is that happiness is out there and that we can, if we just get everything right, grab it and hang onto it.

It takes a fair bit of practice (if you're a slow learner like me) and insight to really understand experientially that happiness, like all other phenomena, is unstable, can vanish in a moment. The Buddha said that all phenomena are: 1) constantly changing, 2) unsatisfactory, and 3) not self. This is one of the key principles ("dharma") he discovered through deep inquiry during meditation practice. We only really benefit from these principles when we experience them to be true in our own lives. Our best chance to "get" or rediscover them is during meditation. We're also more open to have insights when our stresses are minimal, such as when walking alone in nature.

When we do actually "get" the fact that we simply cannot permanently grab hold of happiness externally, we drop a great deal of constant anxious seeking - a huge relief, much like when an addict finally fully "gets" the fact that lasting happiness cannot be found in addictive substances. At this stage, we may have released some of our anxious, fearful restlessness, and gained some insight into: "Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be."

Barrington Street, Halifax, NS

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