Updated: Jan 7
When pain comes and the body fails, most would spend all they had for a cure. When a child or loved one is sick and suffering, most would trade all they had for a chance at an operation, a treatment, or a pharmaceutical regimen that would restore their beloved to health. When the ego is threatened and the mind is disturbed, most dedicate all of their energy to protect it, to burnish it, to validate the self, to improve it, to make it more tolerable or better than.
Why invest in it at all?
When the emotions are strong, volatile, or distressed, most will devote their time and energy to soothe, distract, or numb themselves. Most of our energy and effort is spent avoiding pain- in pursuit of happiness. The long work hours, the material possessions, the schedules and activities, the hobbies, the politicking... are all means or strategies to meet the demands of mind, body and emotions.
Yet, we needn't wait until the body collapses under stresses imposed by the weight of useless thoughts to live more mindfully. Nor is liberation reserved for those with money. Those who have obtained all- career success, fame, wealth, recognition, power- can't buy it; neither can the poor obtain credit for it.
The teachings shared in these posts- which do not originate with me- direct us to what is truly priceless. My teachers did not assign a value to what was neither theirs to hoard nor theirs to sell. People cannot afford what is priceless. Yet when it is given away, people assume it has no value. Such is the nature of human folly.
We needn't wait until our final moments, as we gasp for more breaths, to recognize the value of this existence, the peace in simplicity, the truth in silence, the value of health.
Do you recognize its value? How much would you want for your sight? Your hearing? Your mobility? Your arms? Your legs? Your freedom to choose? What monetary value would you place on the heads of your loved ones? How much would you accept for all you've taken for granted? Would you be satisfied with a billion? 500 billion? More?
When asked what baffled him most about humanity, the Dalai Lama replied: "Man sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health." We can expand this reasoning: We sacrifice time with our loved ones, our peace of mind, and our emotional well-being for riches that do not satisfy the soul when our marriages crumble, our friendships wither, our equanimity is lost, or when the illusions implode.
There is much needless suffering in this world. Yet the prison gates are open. But we are attached to our storylines and illusions, choosing to remain in prisons of our own making- where the roles are defined, the days are predictable, the conflicts are familiar, and the madness is normalized. Anesthetized by ego, stoned on self-absorption, we remain addicted to thought. But beneath the din is silence, beyond the chaos is stillness, past the confusion is clarity. Beyond the illusion of who you think you are pulses the true Self and the Compassionate One who loves unconditionally.
We are given 20,000 new breaths every day. The moments come, each one pregnant with possibility for awakening, for freedom, for peace, for fulfillment.
But few care to awaken. Few are willing to do their work. They are too conditioned by habit. Seeking, too, can become a habit, a pattern of behavior- always seeking the next experience.
Teachers of old understood this. Many came to them seeking relief from their self-created miseries yet remained attached to their suffering. Few were willing to let go. To test their sincerity, the old masters would have aspirants sit outside the temple gates for weeks at a time or assign them the most mundane and disagreeable tasks before initiating them into the teachings.
The teachings themselves are often quite simple. Why place obstacles for instructions that are so straightforward, why not just give them away? To the uninitiated, it's like "casting pearls before swine."
Most who say they want peace are not willing to cultivate it. There's no follow through. They want some "enlightened" master to bless them. They want to be promoted without putting their work in. They're not willing to sit, not willing to suffer, not willing to endure discomfort, not willing to let go of their constructs, not willing to change, not willing to test their assumptions, question their perceptions, or challenge their illusions; they're not willing to surrender to uncertainty, venture into the void, or walk the path of suffering. Most seek pleasure, not the good. There are many purveyors of bellyfeel good, many gurus to keep you entertained- diverting you away from the difficult work you must do alone.
I'm retreating into silence. May you, too, find refuge within. May you know true liberation, true peace, true love, and true happiness in this precious lifetime.