What is the relationship between the moon, the lake, the waves and the wind?
What is the relationship between life, our mind and our thoughts and emotions?
This is a metaphor and there is no difference between nature and us.
When the night is silent and quiet the surface of the lake is still. No wind, no waves. Perfect quietness. The surface of the lake becomes a mirror reflecting everything perfectly well like the moon for example. When you look at the reflection of the moon on the surface, you see exactly the genuine moon in its reality. But, when the night is noisy, the lake is restless and the moon cannot reflect on its reality. It becomes a fragmented moon, an illusion of moon..
Now, extrapolate this vision of nature and used it as a metaphor whereby:
According to Zen Buddhism, mind and body are one entity enabling us to express our own self identity via physical, intellectual and emotional activity. Such triple experience of life is possible only thru our consciousness.
Using a modern language: DNA/body/brain is the hardware, mind the software and consciousness the WI FI / energy needed.
2500 BCE ago Siddhartha Gautama aka “the Buddha =the awakened one” taught in the North East of India during 50 years following 6 years intensive mindfulness meditation practice trying to understand human suffering. Suffering, its causes and how to end it form became the core of his verbal teaching. Explaining how to control our ego-driven mind as our main source of suffering, he could be considered to be one of the first psychotherapists. He was just a human being without any divine power, w/o being neither a messiah nor a prophet. Also, he did not want to set up a new religion from Hinduism and was always asking to be challenged. Like for many religions, Buddhism became, later, a religion but, still, remained w/o hierarchy except few branches such as Tibetan. There are 3 Buddhist schools. Zen (Japanese word for meditation) is a school of Buddhism born in China in ~ 500CE following the influence of Confucianism and Taoism. Zen is aiming more at day-to-day mindful-based daily life and formal meditation practice rather than the rigid studies of the Buddhist scriptures / canons called Sutra (over 5,000!). Because of its simplicity and down-to earth approach, Zen is one of the worldwide spiritual activities with the fastest growth. Especially in developing countries.
Serenity is not happiness. Serenity is our self-created inner peace. This is a permanent state of mind rather than a transient emotion like our usual happiness. On the other hand, our quest for happiness is endless since its sources, being external, are unlimited, transient and out of our control. This is why our happiness comes and goes with its ups and downs like a yo-yo.
Being serene means to accept and be at ease with life as it is, even when adversity and suffering occur. Of course, it does not mean to be powerless, fatalistic, leak or cynical. Accepting struggle does not mean avoiding their solutions.
Serenity can be learned rather than looking for and cannot be created and maintained without the control of our mind. Our body-mind is a fantastic instrument, however it is genetically wired in such way that our ego is controlling it. Eastern religions and philosophies call this ego self the little self.
Little self is acquired, mostly material and transient. Our True Self is genuine, immaterial, perfect and permanent. Many equate the True Self with global consciousness that believers call God.
“We are happy if we get or do what we want” Where is the problem? “If “ is the problem: it creates a condition.
The dictionary describes happiness as an emotional state of joy, pleasure and delight, a feeling that life is good. One of my students told me that, after searching on Google, he want to learn meditation to be happy. “ IfI can meditate few min. every days I will be happy within 2 weeks”. he said.
“ IF, IFis expectation, expectation is a mental state of not having yet, not having yet is a source of unhappiness” I replied. Happiness is always associated with “IF” and our outside world: getting what we want, not getting what we don’t want, pleasure either physical (food, sex, exercise), relational, intellectual, emotional, money, a new stuff all the time. Seeking happiness and its sources from outside self is the norm for all of us. It is very important to realize that all of these aspects of happiness that I call extrinsic and emotional happiness are based on our external life and its circumstances. Unfortunately it will not create permanent happiness since our outside sources are happiness re endless, always transient and most of them without our control. Expecting ongoing happiness from outside is a recipe to ongoing unhappiness, frustration and …suffering for not having what we want or expect.
I got what I am looking for ….and don’t get what I am avoiding.
I do what I want to do …. and don’t do what I don’t want to do.
He/She will nicer, smarter, richer, younger….
By putting condition to happiness that isIF, IF, IF, we are creating a recipe for unhappiness, frustration and dissatisfaction ……in other words suffering………since:
These endless IF may never come and when conditions come, they never last because we have no control on most of them and everything is transient anyway.
Don’t take me wrong: there is nothing pathological to be happy as long we realize that the IF is a deep trap and the quest is endless.
During his 50 years of public speaking, the Buddha (aka the awakened one) said many times that his is 2 main teachings are about human suffering and impermanence of people and things.
The word suffering is a very restrictive translation of the Sanskrit word “Dukkha” founded in Zen Buddhism literature. Beside its usual physical component, Dukkha has a far psychological and even philosophical meaning.
One may define it as a mental state created by negative feelings such as worries, doubt, anger, etc. Dukkha also means that life is challenging, difficult, flawed and imperfect.
In other words: when we feel not OK for whatever reason or when we don’t get what we want or when we are getting what we don’t want, this is Dukkha, this is “suffering “ in its broader sense.
Causes of suffering:
Negative feelings causing Dukkha or suffering are endless in numbers and vary from one person to the next one, from one moment to the next one.