We have been meditating, watching our breath, contemplating the inhalation and the exhalation. We’re using bare attention, mindfulness of the body while walking, standing, sitting and lying down. Rather than becoming fascinated, we’re opening the mind to conditions as they are at the present time.
Notice how even in a beautiful place like this we can really make ourselves miserable. When we are here we might want to be somewhere else; when we are walking we might want to be sitting; when we are sitting we might want to be walking. When we are meditating, we are thinking what we’ll do after the retreat.
Then after the retreat we wish we were back here …
Hopeless, isn’t it? Before you came to this retreat, you may have been having problems at home and thinking, ‘I can hardly wait until I go on retreat.’ And then here you wish, ‘I can hardly wait for the retreat to end.’ Maybe you become very tranquil sitting there and thinking, ‘I want to be like this all the time’, or you try to attain that blissful state you had yesterday but instead become more and more upset. When you achieve these nice blissful states you grasp them, but then you have to get something to eat or do something, so you feel bad at losing the blissful state.
Or maybe you haven’t been having any blissful states at all, just a lot of miserable memories, anger and frustration arising. But everyone else is blissful, so you feel upset because everybody else seems to be getting something from this retreat except you This is how we begin to observe that everything changes. Then we have the possibility to observe how we create problems, attach to the good or create all kinds of complexities around the conditions of the moment; wanting something we don’t have, wanting to keep something we have, or wanting to get rid of it.
This is the human problem of desire; we’re always looking for something else.
I remember as a child wanting a certain toy. I told my mother that if she got me that toy I’d never want anything ever again. It would completely satisfy me. And I believed it, I wasn’t telling her a lie; the only thing that was stopping me from being really happy then was that I didn’t have the toy I wanted. So my mother bought the toy and gave it to me. I managed to get some happiness out of it for maybe five minutes … and then I had to start wanting something else. So in getting what I wanted I felt some gratification and happiness, but then desire for something else arose.
I remember this so vividly because at that young age I really believed that if got that toy I wanted, I would be happy forever … only to realize that ‘happiness forever’ was an impossibility.
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