Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Root of Suffering?

When I came downstairs this morning, Leslie had the TV turned on to Obama's Nobel Peace Prize speech. (I swore I wouldn't comment on the peace prize thing . . . but I just have to say that, although I have nothing against our president, I think that giving a man an award for what he says he wants to do -- not on what he has actually accomplished -- is pretty bogus. I'm just sayin'.)

The volume was turned down for some reason, so while I ate my Frosted Mini-Wheats, I watched President Obama's lips move and read the captions scrolling by under his head. One phrase that ran a couple times caught my eye and has resonated with me through the day . . .

OBAMA: TRUE PEACE IS FREEDOM FROM WANT AND FEAR

Since I didn't hear the man actually talking, I don't know how accurate a representation this was of Obama's point. But the statement itself struck me as very accurate, at least on an individual level (on the international level -- well, that's above my pay grade).

What keeps us from feeling at peace with ourselves and our worlds are 1) we want stuff we can't have (a new car . . a perfect spouse . . an end to world hunger . . ) and 2) we think things are going to hurt us. And actually, when you look at it, number two comes from number one also; by hurting us, we mean they are going to take away something we want and/or think we need (our health . . our freedom . . our dignity . . ). So, essentially, lack of peace comes from not having our way in life, from not getting what we want.

This makes me think of Buddhism. As I understand it (and admittedly, my understanding is limited), one of the basic tenets of Buddhism is that desire is the root of suffering. If you don't want things that you can't have, you won't suffer -- you'll be at peace. True enough, as far as it goes, I guess. Just eliminate all your cravings, and your suffering will disappear. Simple as that. Right?

The question is how to get rid of all of those pesky desires. Hmmm. A topic for my next blog.....

1 comment:

Meredith said...

House fires certainly help rid desire for MATERIAL things! It is amazing how that whole part of my life has just dropped off, and I'm so glad that it did! I don't want for THINGS. I think now I WANT for a different situation in life. That is always harder! The perfect job, I guess is my main DESIRE. And I know I will never find it, so it probably IS causing me to suffer!