Much to do about nothing

Wow, I have to say, the more I practice and learn to observe my mind, the more I see how crazy one can make themselves over nothing.
I am also beginning to learn that a lot of this stems from having so much freedom and advantages in this life and in our American society. Our idle time is abundant, and with this freedom we often lack mindfulness. Our minds wander and create stories, one right after the other. Thoughts of our difficult situations and persons, desires for things we want to have or wish to eliminate, continue to march in and out of our minds as rapidly as we can imagine them.
It does not take long for feelings of anxiety, dread, remorse, guilt, and host of other disturbing emotions have developed into what feels like an overwhelming situation. But is this truly the reality of things?

People in other countries, especially third World countries, rarely face many of these thoughts or emotions like we do here in America. The reason being, is that they have little time to just sit around and think. They have their hands full with the basic needs of life. They must remember to get water from the local well and bring it back home. They need to tend the garden for their spices and vegetables so they may have food to eat. Evening going to the bathroom requires a trip outside in many places.
The most amazing thing, is that most of these people who live in these extremely poor areas of the World, are also the happiest people. And doesn’t that give you pause to wonder how that can be?
Now ask yourself, if you were to move to this type of life, would you be happy? No more TV, computer, iPhone, car, indoor plumbing…
I can only imagine that for most of us, the thought of that gives us the chills and anxiety! And do you see how quickly you just developed aversion and disturbing emotions? And in reality, part of the cause of this is you having the time to read this Blog. Do you think those families have the time to catch up on their favorite Blogs everyday and check-in on Facebook to see what all of their “friends” are doing?
Now, I ask you to observe your mind again and notice the feelings of guilt that may be arising.
Do you see how easily we can fall into this trap of unhappiness and dissatisfaction? But how do we put an end to this, and put a stop to this self-destructive and unwholesome thinking?

Each of us practices in our own way, and at our own comfort level. And there are many ways to develop loving kindness, compassion and acceptance. But one that I have found to offer great benefit to me has been that of gratitude (Kataññuta). And not by simply thinking how you are thankful for the “things” that you have. But by deep heartfelt gratitude of this life. The legs that carry you, the arms that can hold your loved ones, your eyes that may see this World. So many things that we all have to be deeply grateful for that we easily ignore and take for granted. Even our impermanence and dukkha offer us an opportunity for genuine gratitude once we see clearly and deeply.

Today, I wish for each of you to connect with this life. Really be thankful for this breath you are taking. Enjoy some time on the cushion if you can and simply observe your mind and open yourself to the deep connection you have to all living things. And I hope you will see that there is nowhere to go to find peace, it is all present for each of us right now.

May you be well, happy and peaceful.

Thus have I heard:

On one occasion the Blessed One was living near Savatthi at Jetavana at Anathapindika’s monastery. Now when the night was far advanced, a certain deity, whose surpassing radiance illuminated the whole of Jetavana, approached the Blessed One, respectfully saluted him, and stood beside him. Standing thus, he addressed the Blessed One in verse:

1. “Many deities and men longing for happiness have pondered on (the question of) blessings. Pray tell me what the highest blessings are.

2. “Not to associate with the foolish, but to associate with the wise, and to honor those worthy of honor — this is the highest blessing.

3. “To reside in a suitable locality, to have performed meritorious actions in the past, and to set oneself in the right direction — this is the highest blessing.

4. “Vast learning, skill in handicrafts, well grounded in discipline, and pleasant speech — this is the highest blessing.

5. “To support one’s father and mother; to cherish one’s wife and children, and to be engaged in peaceful occupations — this is the highest blessing.

6. “Liberality, righteous conduct, rendering assistance to relatives, and performance of blameless deeds — this is the highest blessing.

7. “To cease and abstain from evil, to abstain from intoxicating drinks, and diligent in performing righteous acts — this is the highest blessing.

8. “Reverence, humility, contentment, gratitude, and the timely hearing of the Dhamma, the teaching of the Buddha — this is the highest blessing.

9. “Patience, obedience, meeting the Samanas (holy men), and timely discussions on the Dhamma — this is the highest blessing.

10. “Self-control, chastity, comprehension of the Noble Truths, and the realization of Nibbana — this is the highest blessing.

11. “The mind that is not touched by the vicissitudes of life, the mind that is free from sorrow, stainless, and secure — this is the highest blessing.

12. “Those who have fulfilled the conditions (for such blessings) are victorious everywhere, and attain happiness everywhere — To them these are the highest blessings.”