We have been
meditating, watching our breath, contemplating the inhalation and
the exhalation. We're using bare attention, mindfulness of the body
while walking, standing, sitting and lying down. Rather than
becoming fascinated, we're opening the mind to conditions as they
are at the present time.
Notice how even in a beautiful place like this we can really make
ourselves miserable. When we are here, we might want to be somewhere
else; when we are walking, we might want to be sitting; when we are
sitting, we might want to be walking. When we are meditating, we are
thinking what we'll do after the retreat. Then after the retreat, we
wish we were back here . . . hopeless, isn't it?
Before you came to this retreat, you were having problems at home
and you were thinking, 'I can hardly wait until I go on retreat.'
And then here you wish, 'I can hardly wait for the retreat to end.'
Maybe you get very tranquil sitting there thinking, 'I want to be
like this all the time,' or you try to get that blissful state you
had yesterday but instead get more and more upset.
When you get these nice blissful states you grasp them; but then you
have to get something to eat or do something. So you feel bad at
losing the blissful state. Or maybe you haven't been getting any
blissful states at all: just a lot of miserable memories and anger
and frustrations arise. Everyone else is blissful; so then you feel
upset because everybody else seems to be getting something from this
retreat except you. . . .
This is how we begin to observe that everything changes. Then we
have the possibility to observe how we create problems or attach to
the good or create all kinds of complexities around the conditions
of the moment; wanting something we don't have, wanting to keep
something we have, wanting to get rid of something we have. This is
the human problem of desire, isn't it? We're always looking for
I remember as a child wanting a certain toy. I told my mother that
if she got me that toy, I'd never want anything ever again. It would
completely satisfy me. And I believed it -- I wasn't telling her a
lie; the only thing that was stopping me from being really happy
then was that I didn't have the toy that I wanted. So my mother
bought the toy and gave it to me. I managed to get some happiness
out of it for maybe five minutes . . . and then I had to start
wanting something else. So in getting what I wanted, I felt some
gratification and happiness and then desire for something else
arose. I remember this so vividly because at that young age, I
really believed that if I got that toy that I wanted, I would be
happy forever . . . only to realize that 'happiness forever' was an