That ole time religion is just wearing a bit thin these days. Much of my life has focused on a tradition that is neither provable nor practical. Its not that I have jettisoned my Christian faith; I just choose not to focus on at at this particular point of my life. So over the last year or so, my philosophical ilk has pointed eastward. Specifically the Buddhist tradition. The reason? Though it makes many supernatural claims about reality and the afterlife, those aspects can be easily stripped away. At its most simplistic, the Buddhist practitioner can focus on a few basic precepts. I will summarize crudely here:
- Life sucks
- It sucks because we don’t want it to suck
- There is a way to stop it from sucking
- 8 precepts can stop the suckage *
*As a data analyst it amuses me that the fourth item in a list points to another list of 8.
I can summarize the 8 Fold Path (Step 4) thusly: be wise, be ethical and be disciplined. Distilled still further: live in the moment.
Therein lies the problem. Living in the moment, that is. In my best moments of meditation, I can be “in the moment” for a few seconds. My mind is constantly swimming in a destructive pool of attachment. I want what I can’t have. I want to keep what I do have. And I don’t want anything bad to happen. This is what the Buddhist tradition calls dukkha. And it is at the core of unhappiness. It is what can make depression so debilitating.
Try as I might, I cannot get past my seeping pool of dukkha. 2014 has been one of the most challenging years of my life. I have lost a best friend. I had to watch my kid endure 6 months of medical hell. Then to top it all off, my wife and I have both had our work environments upended.
I try and be pliant but when everything around you is in motion, the natural tendancy is to grasp. I must stay here. I must keep what I have. I must avoid pain.
But if I can relax my mind for just a moment, the truth of the matter appears. As the sage Buddhist monk “The Clash” said, “If I go there there will be trouble. And if I stay it will be double.”
Well, I have got to let it go.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”