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Daily Connect: (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Buddhism is founded on four facts about the nature of existence (the Four Noble Truths), the first fact being that everyone experiences suffering.  There is "big" suffering (sickness, pain, and loss) and then there is "ordinary" suffering, which we hardly even identify as suffering.  Ordinary suffering is our constant dissatisfaction with the way things are:  the flight is delayed; your boyfriend insists on wearing the ugliest shoes; no one but you seems to care very much about important issues; your dad never hears you and your friend forgot your birthday; a man on the subway ran into you because he wasn't looking and you didn't get a seat on the train; you don't make enough money; you want more than you have.  These constant little ways that the world doesn't happen the way we want it and expect it to be are a pervasive form of suffering to which are so accustomed that we don't even notice that we are its creator.   Ven. Robina Courtin explains: 

We are so caught up with the delusions ... because those delusions are convinced that the outside world is where it is all happening. This is what we want - what we see, what we taste, what we smell - this is where real life looks like where it is and what we are trying to get ... [but] if we look at our minds, which is where we have to look, where all the work has to happen, which is what we are trying to transform - this is where the happiness exists and where the suffering exists, not out there, in all those external things. 

Discovering that your suffering is coming from inside your own mind requires looking inside instead of outside.  It's simple, but not easy, as most of us are unaccustomed to using meditation to quietly listen to our thoughts, hearts and bodies.  At first, hearing yourself can be a disconcerting and overwhelming experience, but with practice and kindness, discovering your suffering and learning that you have control over it is the most empowering ability available to you.   If you choose to remain ignorant and continue to chase happiness out there and blame dissatisfaction on the material world, you are guaranteed to keep suffering.   A great example of this comes from Len Dykstra, a former major league baseball player who somehow managed to squander $58 million.  His confusion and ignorance are evident in this sadly profound statement he made prior to his recent conviction for fraud and felony theft:

“I said, O.K., I know I’ll be happy when I buy my own Gulfstream,” Dykstra remarked about the plane he purchased in 2007. “But I got down to the end of the nose, I looked back and I said, O.K., happy, come on, come on. 

So it’s not about the Gulfstream. But it is about the Gulfstream.  Meaning it just wasn’t as good a Gulfstream as I wanted."


Peace to Everyone Everywhere!


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Thank you Kim!

Thanks for writing this Kim. Back to basics.

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