Last year I read this book and the first sentence went something like:
If you love sweets and easy living, this book is not for you.
So of course I was like, “dang, this book is not for me.” Because the part of me that expresses in this world, the Ego I’ve developed over 35 years, LOVES sweets, and easy living.
Of course the sentence wasn’t meant to be taken literally, but even in the figurative sense, I have not proven to be the type of guy who eschews hedonistic activities. Quite the contrary, I have been a vocal supporter of all things pleasurable. Yup.
But then there’s a part of me that sees all of this as wasteful. The center of me, if you will, knows that no sweet and no manner of easy living will ever calm the restlessness of my Spirit.
“Before each activity, remind yourself, “There is absolutely no hope this activity will ever satisfy me.“
This is the truth of the matter. Any indulgence I partake in, whether it be a delicious dessert or a favorite pastime, is only going to last me for that moment. When it is over, almost immediately, I will want it again or something like it or something better.
I’m having trouble with separating myself from the Want of it all…but the will to do so becomes stronger every day. With every television episode I watch that reminds me all of the television episodes are doing the same thing over and over again. With every meal I eat that reminds me that no matter how good and filling this may be, I’ll always want more and more, better and better. With every song I hear, conversation I have, tweet I read, errand I run, I see the emptiness behind the action.
It’s as if, when you drink sodas and other sugary drinks that are devoid of nutritional content, your stomach actually registers the emptiness of the calories. It shifts a little when you pour your coke down your throat. And you are reminded that this is doing nothing for you but taking up space, providing momentary distraction from your true Thirst, just creating more of a void.
It’s called VAIRAGYA
the falling away of worldliness
dispassion and detachment from pains and pleasures of the material world (maya)
to be dried of color, passion, feeling, emotion, interest
And apparently it’s a slow process, like “how a snake sheds skin.” Slowly. Deliberately.
But I got no patience, and I hate waiting. © S. Carter
Long ago it was not uncommon for aspiring initiates of zen monasteries to be challenged by jumping into a sea of crocodiles. If they survived, they would be accepted. If not, well I guess it was better luck next life.
That story recently occurred to me as I pondered my current situation on this path. These men and women had already turned away from the world. They left behind their families, their passions, their interests, their hobbies, their favorite foods, everything that they had come to Love, they had already chosen to leave. But before they could actually be a part of the community they left everything for, they had to show their willingness to swim in dangerous waters in order to begin.
No one is asking me to do such thing and I’m sure no one will. But I realized that in this day and age, millennia or more away from having to swim in dangerous waters to BEGIN learning, the same thing is happening to me. The monks of that time were born in a world of much less stimulation and, believe me I am NOT downplaying their sacrifices, it could not have been as challenging for them to separate themselves from their attachments. Therefore it was necessary to add an extra step, an extra test to make sure they were ready to learn.
I realize that I was born inside of the sea of crocodiles. Every attachment and every source of sensory pleasure I have come to know and love is an crocodile that is ready to devour me and all of my hopes for living a more authentic existence.
Sweets and easy living are crocodiles. Florida State football is an crocodile. My family and friends are crocodiles. Twitter on Awards nights is an crocodile. ABC on Wednesday nights, NBC on Thursday nights, and all of television are crocodiles. My iPhone is an crocodile. This computer, my clothes, my car, my ps3. Crocodiles everywhere!
There’s nothing wrong with any of these things of course. As a householder I understand almost all of them will be a part of my life for the foreseeable future. I am just beginning to understand that unless I have shed the skin of attachment to these things, every moment I spend entertaining pleasures is wasted.
And the only way I can even begin to see Truth is through slowly falling away; dodging one crocodile at a time.
This is where I am. I could use help. Is there anyone out there loving enough to assist?