Dear Still Water Friends,
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will recite together the Five Mindfulness Training and discuss the second training: True Happiness. While the original training from the time of the Buddha was an apeal not to steal: “I undertake the rule of training to refrain from taking what is not given,” Thich Nhat Hanh’s version emphasizes the link between true happiness and a commitment to justice and generosity:
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. at running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.
I am particularly struck by Thich Nhat Hanh’s observation of how our own striving can get in the way of our ability to practice whole-hearted generosity. He reminds us that “running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair,” but instead we “can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy.”
As I read it, this training encourages us to recognize the ways that our striving hinders not only our own happiness, but our ability to give to and care about others. I can clearly see how this concept plays out in my own life, where I fail to give my time to important causes because I fear that I will not have enough time left for myself. This has prompted me to consider my own striving. What am I “running after”? Popularity? Approval? Acclaim? Comfort? Stablity?
In advance of our Dharma sharing on the Second Training, I invite you consider the following questions:
What are you “running after” or striving for?
How does striving come up in your live?
Does striving impact your ability to give?
I hope you will join us.