Posted by Michael Finkelstein | September 28th, 2019
To Want What You Have
Over the past 2 weeks I have been immersed in my bi-annual Group Detox and Cleansing (Juice Fast) Retreat at Rancho La Puerta in Tecate, Mexico. At the same time, Robin and I have been watching a docuseries, produced in India, on the life of the young Buddha, Siddharth, and we’ve been practicing a little Tai Chi besides; learning from ancient masters about the concept of contentment as an important goal — far wiser, perhaps, than our usual pursuit of happiness, which is only a momentary experience.
The Buddha says that our expectation for happiness is in fact the reason we experience so much grief. In this way, when we “let go of having to have it,” we find a natural state of acceptance that allows us to experience the highs with a wholesome awareness that can be used just the same for the lows. From here we can build a bridge to looking at all that happens to us as acceptable. This is not to say that when we are the victims of violence, or when we are faced with a life-threatening condition, or any other form of trauma, it is easy. No not by any means. Life is going to be hard, and that is the truth.
However, with this approach, we don’t allow ourselves to dwell in the depths of despair. Instead, we intentionally adopt a practice to appreciate what does work out to ease our suffering, and seek ways to improve upon our receptivity to grace. Going further, we can take the next step — to actually want what you have now, all things included.
While a tough pill to swallow at times, there is something I believe worth considering seriously, which is why I’m writing this. Indeed, I have witnessed, as an example, many individuals with cancer “re-frame” their condition as their “best teacher.” And, while they suffer mentally and physically, they somehow manage to look at their situation as a blessing and specifically seek its meaning and the evidence of such. Their life then includes a pursuit of something higher as they continue to do what they can to ease their pain. As you can see, this is not either – or. It is both.
The addition of a focus that emphasizes acceptance, contentment and grace is what all these teachings have in common. Further, adding compassion for ourselves and others, given how challenging this is, adds what is often essential to the path and making this work. Clearly this is not easy, but the benefits are undeniable. You can do it! We can do it together.