Tuesday, August 08, 2017

"The quality of our life is determined by the mind's response to the circumstances of our life.  It is not determined directly by the circumstances.  We make the mistake of trying to produce happiness and meaning by controlling circumstances, mistakenly thinking that they are the primary cause.  In the old texts, this is referred to has 'beating the cart to make the horse move.'

The more we are attached to this approach, the more vulnerable we become to anxiety, because there is no certainty that we can attain or produce the proper circumstances.  And if we do produce the proper circumstances there is no certainty that they will endure, and so our emotions are constantly destabilized.

The pursuit of circumstances as the goal in life has an important corollary--that we, just as we are, are insufficient and unsatisfied, and that only through accomplishing certain things with our lives do we fulfill or justify our being here.  This error is the source of constant stress, and it also makes no sense.  And this is why society finds young people, even those in the upper classes, breaking under this horrible burden--abusing drugs and alcohol, cutting themselves, and even committing suicide, because their operating system is so divorced from reality, from genuine sanity.

Since this is the culture of our society--that meaning comes from wealth, status is in the eyes of others, and love is dependent on performance, and so on--one needs great courage to go against the current.  The wisdom that says these goals are meaningless in the face of our temporary stay here is hidden in our culture.  The grace of a gentle, noble spirit is not valued.  The fact is that every day we are gifted with the incredible present of a body and a mind, and a universe that supports our life.  Instead of living in deep gratitude, people take that for granted and go off on egotistical binges; this is a sign of the darkness of our time.

And it is all so simple--wake up with a profound 'Thank you' and cultivate that mood as much as much as possible."

--Yoshin David Radin, Ithaca Zen Center
(via Tricycle magazine)


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