But wait, this isn't fair - I quit in 1988. It was hard, too. I thought my lungs cleared up when I quit.
Karma isn't fair, but it's just. All the time you smoked, it was damaging your alveoli. Bad karma, bad.
But today is another day. I was sitting doing the multiple eyedrops for post- and pre-cataract surgery and enjoying Tricycle Magazine, when I read this, in an article called The Present Moment.
No one denies the potential benefit from learning to calm or focus the mind, but many Buddhist teachers worry that an approach may be easy and give immediate benefits and yet risk discarding essential elements in the Buddha's teaching.Wait. I actually had a little dose of MBSR years ago, as part of a course in overall healthy living taught by my health club. It did not just risk discarding the teachings - it carefully explained that it had nothing to do with religion. It was about you feeling better and living longer.
A secular meditation practice is almost never sustained, and I'm here to tell you why. Because sitting still doing nothing opens you up to reality, and that's the last thing most of us want. Why is that?
This is a truth abundantly restated on the internet, which has enabled us to complain a lot verbally and visually. And in fact, it's religion - a restatement of the Buddha's First Noble Truth, the truth of dukkha, the suffering inherent in life. So let me continue in this vein with my Four Unpleasant Realities.
1. Life sucks.
2. It's your fault that it sucks. (a) You think it shouldn't, and (b) you keep trying to evade all the suckiness with distractions, positive thinking, and scotch and soda.
3. There is a way to bring the volume of suckiness down a bit.
And here's the assignment -
4. The way is a complex, sustained effort to meet the suckiness face to face, and change the way you act.
This was really funny when Tom and I came up with it at the breakfast table an hour ago, but it is not amusing me so much as I write about it.
And there I stopped writing a week or two ago, and got distracted by the second cataract surgery. Such is old age that I forgot about this draft until now. And I am again stuck with the subject. Because nobody wants to hear about The Eightfold Path and behave themself. So I'll cut to the executive summary, which is sometimes expressed like this ~
Sorry about all the black.
But it's true. And the founder of the Zen I study, Dogen, said that when you get that, you've got it: life is impermanent. YOU are impermanent. Not only will you die, but you have no idea when you'll die, today, tomorrow, after you print out your to-do list. And that goes for everything and everyone you love. Get that, and you'll be motivated to be with the moment you've got.
So, it's Monday. Did you need this on Monday? Yes, probably. I know I do.