The thoughts we cling to are probably the ones we most need to drop…
The Buddha statuette had sat in my garden for too long. A thought occurred: why not invite him in?
I hesitated and was interested to notice the hesitation, the “maybe I’ll let him in tomorrow” or “maybe in the summer when he’s not so mucky…” as if now is never the right time but, as Rabbi Hillel pointed out so poignantly, “If not now, then when?”
And the Buddha of course represents our being in the present moment. Enlightenment means not having anywhere to go or anything to gain. The journey is the destination and the destination is the journey. The desire nature has finally found peace: already home, already arrived…. always home, always arrived…
So I invited the Buddha in and sat him discretely behind the door of my living room in order to see him at surprise moments, when the door was not to widely open. But he asked me why I was still hiding him away and I replied that it was conditioning.
I wasn’t sure, as a Jew, whether I should have such a symbol in my living room. Wasn’t god meant to be more mysterious than this, more hidden, harder to know? Then I moved him into my living room, on full display. After all, he’s been with me, in one way or another, since I discovered the more mystical, Eastern ways of thinking in my early twenties. Throw away the conditioning and meet compassion head on, I thought – embrace desirelessness, mindfulness, emptiness and all the other wonderful teachings. If not now, then when?
The Buddha actually took pride of place in my living room on the first day of 2014 as part of three New Year
“Resolutions,” which I’ll now list and comment on.
Number one has already been mentioned: “If not now, then when?”
Number two is the question of “Adrenalin or Peace?” In my therapy work, and generally, I’ve noticed how massive the problem of stress, anxiety and panic is… London probably epitomises this, in terms of the geography of our country but I’m pretty sure that it’s nationwide and everyone now seems to be aware of the mental health statistic of “one in four.”
This means that we ourselves or someone in our family has probably suffered a mental health problem. Perhaps technology has increased our stress rather than alleviated it, as we were promised… The 1970’s utopian ideal of only having to work a three day week because machines or computers would do the rest seems to have been transformed largely into those who have wealth and those who don’t – those who have full time jobs which are extremely demanding and those that don’t have any work at all… Either way, this causes stress.
In addition, we have become greedy, not just in a material sense but also temporally. We try to squeeze as much as we can into as little time as possible… a bucket list before breakfast!
Our energy so often seems to come from an adrenalin surge rather than from a place of peace or mindfulness. Sadly, this frantic energy is contagious too…
Number three is linked to the quasi-political point of number two as I ask the question “cooperation or competition?” Stress may be an inevitable symptom of the capitalist system. We are conditioned into competition from an early age and this immature masculine function becomes venerated in adult life as can be seen from people in business who talk about “making a killing” or “winning the deal,” etc. Basically, one person or party profits from the other person’s loss. We are told that we’re not born equal, that it’s survival of the fittest and this is a democratic system so therefore it must be wonderful.
How transformational would it be to think naturally of how we could share or cooperate from each other rather than profit from each other? I’m not overtly political though I think it’s still bubbling away underneath. The way I deal with it nowadays is not to pretend I’m a revolutionary because every revolution just gives way to the next ruling power so I go along with the Krishnamurtis, the Eckhart Tolles and the Byron Katie’s of this world who talk about a new consciousness and a change from within rather than from without. This internal change will hopefully lead to a more peaceful world that naturally cooperates more than it competes…