|Forest Sangha Newsletter||January 1988|
Looking for the Sweet One
Even when you are getting what you want, maybe you can be ninety per cent happy, but still there is that ten per cent at the back of the mind
|It is like Nasrudin, the wise man who acted like a fool, or maybe he was a fool who acted like a wise man. He was sitting with this big bag of little red chillies, -- very hot! Tears are streaming down his face and he is panting and crying and eating chillies. An old friend comes by and asks "Nasrudin, what are you doing there eating all those really hot chillies?" Nasrudin, between gasps for air and wiping away his tears and blowing his nose, managed to say "I'm looking for the sweet one."|
And so we continually look for the sweet one, continually seek happiness in the conditioned, and we haven't found a sweet one yet. Even when you are getting what you want, maybe you can be ninety per cent happy, but still there is that ten per cent at the back of the mind that's a little bit concerned, a little bit afraid, a little bit possessive. Underneath you know it can't last! That nagging fear leads us to a spiritual path, to seek an alternative source of happiness.
|In Buddhism we are striving for a different sort of happiness. Do you think there can be a happiness and a joy in the mind which is self contained, independent of all conditions and perceptions, completely independent of anything whatsoever. This is the happiness of the Buddha. This is Nibbana, the happiness of Enlightenment and nonattachment, the happiness of no limitations, the happiness of no self.|
When you stop having an invested interest in conditions and results, you are not burdened by anything. When one is not burdened, the mind is at peace, it is naturally joyful and happy. The Buddha was a shining example of this happiness. From my own experience of having met many great meditation Masters they share this quality of inner tranquillity, despite the inability to control conditions and events.
When I went to live with Ajahn Chah at first I was amazed and then I was quite upset to see how he ran his monastery. I expected him to have a really tight control over everything, keep the monks- in line, keep the lay people out of the way, have a regular timetable. But Ajahn Chah didn't do anything like that at all. Things would continually change in the monastery, sometimes we would meditate in the morning, sometimes we would chant, then for a month or so we would do a lot of formal practice, then we would work, continually flowing with the conditions. I began to realise that Ajahn Chah didn't go out of his way to control and regulate conditions. Everybody wanted him to have a timetable and he just never kept to them, he never turned people away. If they didn't come then he was perfectly happy to be alone. He didn't bother to control events, yet if I have ever met a joyful happy person it was Venerable Ajahn Chah. Not because he was always laughing, although he did laugh a lot, but he just had this joy about him, whatever he was doing. He wasn't seeking anything from anybody, wasn't trying to control things in order to be happy.
In Buddhism we are interested in freedom, the freedom of non-attachment. We carry around an immense burden of attachment to everything we consider me and mine, like a big heavy stone on our shoulders. When a wise person points out to us that we could throw off this burden we regard them with suspicion. "Throw it off? Then I wouldn't have anything left! I couldn't do that!" Thinking they will bring us happiness we continue to lug around our personal investments and self interests, this great big heavy burden! The Buddha taught that nothing is worth attaching to. Do not attach to anything, that will bring true peace and happiness. Reflect on the process of what we call suffering. What it really is. How it arises. Only then can one begin to appreciate what attachment really is, what the result of attachment is and begin to glimpse the idea and Possible results of non-attachment.