Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Meeting Needs

Looking at a situation with a group of people, what do you see?


However you look, you see either immediate suffering, the suffering that comes from the nature of change and therefore loss of present happiness, or existential suffering - the suffering that comes simply through being embodied.

Looking at beings, you see beings rubbing up against how things are, and the resulting sufferings caused by ignorance. Not seeing how things truly are, we try to grasp stuff, or we push stuff away, or we remain untouched by that which doesn't trigger our attachments.

In a family or work dynamic, we experience things we don't find pleasant, and often seek to move away from that. The person who reacts differently to how we want them to - we experience a 'need' to get them to change. That may stem from wanting to change the uncomfortableness of the situation or behavoir, rather than through seeing that being creating unnecessary suffering for themselves and others through their behavoir based on ignorance, and a spontaneously compassionate response to that.

One of the beauties of a family is, like in a monastery, you have placed a stake in the ground, and said "this is where I stand, and this is where I now practice". Rather than seeking the grass that is supposedly greener elsewhere, you have commited to being in this particular circumstance, however that plays out.

The great beauty of this is that it encourages you to see how things truly are, and to work with it, rather than to give in to the compulsive need to want to move away from that which you find unpleasant. In a marriage, you've let go of the idea of wanting a 'perfect person', and have commited to being right here, right now, with this very person. With children, you can't move them away if they no longer suit you - this is the ground with which you work.

And why should you seek to be elsewhere? Why seek a different partner due to the sufferings that arise from not wanting your present one to be as they are? Things are as they are. Situations give rise to pleasant and unpleasant. People are in part as you would wish (at a particular moment) and partly not.

A pleasant sensation arises .... how is that? An empty arising in mind, no more, no less. Not something to make a great story out of, a 'song and a dance', and then to start grasping after. It's just what it is .... utterly without substance, yet a play of mind.

An unpleasant experience arises ... how is that? Again, just the minds luminosity, momentarily 'holding' that flickering appearance, an empty conjuring trick which plays and goes. Why seek to push it away, to change what we think is 'out there' and causing it? It just is what it is, a shadow play of mind.

No longer caught in the push-pull of compulsion, no longer projecting an 'other' out there to be 'perfected', we can allow things to be as they are. Truly at peace with the world, we can let go of manipulating and forcing.

And out of that letting go, that allowing things to be .... what arises?


Compassion - the desire to help and alleviate the sufferings that appear to appear. Wherever they arise, seemingly in others, or seemingly in ourselves, we can gently offer what needs to be offered. Is it out there, or is it in here? Does the suffering occur in others, or in ourselves? No longer seeing 'me', no longer seeing 'them', we no longer get caught up in balancing our needs and the needs of others. No longer a juggling act, with limited resources. The play of mind is just that ... empty appearances seemingly arising. Where they arise in such a way that inspires compassionate action, then that action occurs in the way that it is needed. Where does 'you' or 'I' come in to it?

The unbearable suffering of seeing beings caught in delusion, grasping and pushing at what they experience, thinking they will find release in holding and excluding. How painful indeed to see that needless suffering, when the shadow plays of their minds are no more substantial than your own?

Playing to the wrong game plan, how painful to see .... compassion reaches out, to help where it can. Not caught up in trying to make them 'right', to make them 'see', to again change the world into how it 'ought to be' - filled with beings who no longer self-cause suffering. Just gently offering help where help can be given, helping, and holding, and allowing their blossoms to gently bloom.

Yet there are infinitely more needs of suffering to relieve than our current capacity to help. This desperate unbearable suffering of feeling others' sufferings, and not having the capacity to help them all drives our desire for realisation, so that we may have the unlimited capacities of an Enlightened One.

Illusory beings creating illusory suffering, yet the dream is so vivid, so real, so entrancing.

Just what it is, a play of appearances. Not mesmerised by the shadowplay, and then freed to spontaneously be. Be-ing in the best way, be-ing of benefit. Needs appear to arise, and just responding as can. No longer caught up in 'me' and 'their' needs.

Seeing the nature of mind allows the delusory dualisms to fade. Not caught up in delusion, compassion can arise. Freed from forcing, letting go is the ground.

Letting go ... everything is accomplished.

Nobody to do, nobody done to, nothing is done.

And yet, all is complete ... Eh Ma Ho!


Al said...

Very nice summation of the "work" of a householder.

I like your analogy of the family as monastery. Although I would never suggest anyone stick with a physically abusive situation, the idea of the marriage "vows" puts one in a position where you have to face the truth. Sure you can do your best to avoid and hide - some do it for a lifetime - but at some point you are going to have to face up to "what is". Best to turn and face it, name it, accept it, allow it, whatever it is; how you thought the other person would be, how you thought your kid would be, the position you thought you would occupy in society, the money you thought you would have, as you always say, just a shadow play, impermanent, empty thoughts arising and passing away. And yet, genuine suffering exists. Our attachment to the dance can yield an incredibly visceral unpleasantness, and when we are clear, there can be a genuine move to alleviate that suffering. But as any experienced householder knows, sometimes the wife/partner doesn't want to hear,"but honey, your thoughts about wanting to clean out the basement are empty and impermanent, may be next week..." You have to deal with that right there - now are you going to hide or are you going to be honest with yourself?
What's really great is that these opportunities, if you view them like that, are available everyday - no waiting on line, just shuffle right up to the counter and go!

Nice post...........Al

tamingthemind said...

Hello Chodpa,
Thank you for the link to your post. It is indeed helpful. This is the nature of being in a relationship with someone - sometimes up and sometimes down. But, through it all I feel that the marriage is the ground. You are right, you have to "place a stake in the ground." That is what commitment is all about.
Charlotte Kasl in her book, If the Buddha Married, says to "abandon hope." She say, "Ask yourself, How would our lives be if I just accepted her or him the way she or he is?" This is a great book for couples with a mixture of buddhist, quaker, and sufi wisdom.

Thank you very much for the post.

John M Evans said...

Inspiring post, Chodpa.

The idea of the family situation as a "monastic" or spiritual one is very nicely put, and helpful in many ways. Too often spiritual teachers recommend a path of renunciation - which may suit some - but if a person is already in a marital set-up it can't be right to ask them to walk away from it.

I'll put a link to this blog on my own: www.nirvaneans.blogspot.com

Thanks for the post - John