When Zen literature speaks about the “walls or gates” blocking access to our inner serenity and happiness it uses the word “poisons” since these walls are, most of the time, like poison pills that we swallow continuously without being fully conscious of their effects. Of course many sources of our suffering, sadness, sorrow, grief come from outside self such as loss of a loved one, accident, war, loss of job, verbal/emotional aggression, disasters, etc. However we shall see that most of our hindrances against achieving serenity and happiness are self inflected.
The Buddha 2500 year ago talked about causes of human suffering many times during his 50 years teaching. The term “suffering” is now better translated as dissatisfactions/ unhappiness You will see that the main source of our suffering and dissatisfaction is our ego-self controlling our mind. Suffering and dissatisfaction are caused by numerous poisons. The list of our poisons is endless and varies greatly with each individual. The following is a short one.
Have you ever noted over the years that your ego mind is in starving mode all the time, always complaining and crying like a spoiled baby: “I want more, I want more, I don’t have enough, I am not happy, give me that, give me this, why me, it is unfair”? Its requests are endless: comfort, money, pleasure, sex, power, control, fame, love, recognition, security, understanding, more stuff and so on.
Thanks to our deceptive mind we have this illusion that each of us is has a unique, independent, separate self-entity. As far our DNA we are unique but in fact we are all interdependent and interrelated since we are the transient byproducts of the first living molecule around 3.5 billions years ago. All living beings are 100% dependent of the Earth environment and the Universe to survive.
“The wave lives the life of a wave & at the same time the life of the sea” said Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
When life is rough and tough it seems that we are riding a bull during a rodeo. Especially when events are very hard to swallow, the temptation to let go and fall on the floor is great. The wild bull can be financial pressures, health issues, work, aging parents, difficult child, love relationship, etc. The bull will keep kicking and toasting us up and down. These events acute or repetitive will induce significant stress related medical complications such as depression, anxiety, chronic pain and many more.
It’s easy to get off the bull by engaging in comfort behavior which may be detrimental such as overeating, over drinking, using drug, addiction to sex or to gambling or being in front of the TV or computer screen for hours. If you fall off the bull, the challenge is to get back on the beast and keep riding. Remember Life is what it is. It has its good days and bad days for all of us. Life does not care too much about each of the 7 billions human beings living on this planet. It will go on whatever and it is up to us to adapt to it and not vice versa that is expecting Life to adapt to each of us.
Statements made by someone and the reply from a Zen talking mirror.
Nothing changes around me.
Nothing is permanent & everything is transient including you, your friends, your pet, the clouds, this planet, the sun, and me. Everything is changing all the time, every second, non-stop within an endless circle of new beginning and new end. Without ongoing birth and death life and evolution will be impossible. Thinking otherwise is an illusion coming from our deceptive ego centered mind.
Quite bleak & depressive.
Just as it is…remember Zen mind is like a mirror: simple, realistic & pragmatic.
They are called seals because there are the landmarks of Buddha 50 years verbal teaching. They are SUFFERING, IMPERMANENCE, NO-SELF and NIRVANA. They represent the 4 standing blocks of his philosophy. Everything else rests on them.These words seem weird, complex and esoteric but we will see how logical and useful they are in our daily life. Meditation will help you to discover and experience them. We will see also that they are deeply related and interconnected.
We all have an individual consciousness (IC) that is a state of awareness even if most of the time we behave in our life on an auto pilot mode with our mind wandering around continuously and usually not been in the present moment.
In addition to our individual consciousness we are also part of a collective consciousness (CC). In our very individualistic society CC is not mentioned very often and yet this global consciousness is very important and probably is affecting us probably far more than we think or want. Just as Internet is made up of millions of individual sites and as the universe is composed of billion of individual stars CC is made up of billion of ICs from all living beings. There is no Internet without individual site and there is no individual site without Internet. The same can be applied to consciousness: there is no CC without the individual ones and vise versa. Furthermore CC contains all IC components and IC contains all elements of the collective consciousness.