Thought of the Day

I am currently reading Buddhism Plain and Simple by Zen Master Steve Hagen.  The book has some interesting observations arising through Buddhist philosophy that are helping me cope with a very difficult time in my life right now.  Here's an excerpt.  His example is of a leaf fixed to a tree in the fall.

When we insist on hanging onto our branch, in our ignorance, we think this is freedom.  "I can do whatever I want, and if I feel like falling in midsummer, I will.  And if I want to cannonball, it's my business."  We don't see that what we're calling freedom is actually bondage.

When we act this way, we become the prisoners of our own whims and desires.  As a result, we're unable to act out of seeing our situation for what it is, moment after moment.  We're only able to act according to our cravings.

We think that freedom lies in making choices based on our desires.  But when we see our circumstances, we see much more than just our desires.  We see how the current situation has come to be.

True freedom doesn't lie in having choices.  We always have no choice but to act.  Even if we choose not to act, we're still acting — and still making a choice.

Our only choice of consequence lies in whether or not we're awake. 

[emphasis added]

In my situation, the bold statement really hits home.  It seems like it is very easy to fall into this trap of want, desire, greed and selfishness.  Furthermore, once we do, we no longer objectively consider other options in life.  Unfortunately Freud's Id is a powerful force in the world of the human mind.  Not that our wants, needs and desires are not important.  However, they should not cloud our judgement.  It is important to understand the root cause of such feelings in order to property analyse them and ensure that they are dealt with.

If you are at all interested in learning more about Buddhism, I have found this book to be an nice introduction to the philosophy. 

Just some food for thought today, something off-topic to spice things up. 


4 thoughts on “Thought of the Day

  1. I quite enjoyed that book as well. It was one of the first books on Buddhism I read and it definitely stuck with me. My other favorite passage was when he describes the beauty of a rose: do we want a plastic rose that will last forever? Of course not — we want a real rose because of its fragility, because it will not last forever. Impermanence is the only absolute. Thanks for the thoughts.

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