I had the pleasure of meeting a young monk recently who spent six months a year meditating in the mountains of France in a Buddhist monastery. We caught for a juice at Bondi Beach to discuss Buddhism and enlightenment.
I was going through a time of personal discovery and I was curious to hear his perspective on the cause of suffering. His response was remarkably simple and it completely changed my perspective on things. I recently had a family pet pass away, a family member that was sick, I had to move house, I had been in a minor car accident and I was grappling with constant challenges in a project that I was working on. It felt like there was a weight of burden fall over me.
The Buddhist monk put things very simply by saying that there are really only two causes of suffering:
1. We have this deluded idea that things will be permanent when in actually fact ALL forms and phenomenon are impermanent. Everything will pass and attachment to things staying the same will cause suffering.
2. We perceive ourselves and the world around us through our limited awareness as separate entities. The notion of duality, i.e. two things, is also the root cause of suffering.
I sat with this for the rest of the day in deep contemplation. I observed all forms and phenomenon and saw them for what they were…transitory things that will come and go. Family, pets, friends, cars, money, trees, my body, even the sun will all come and go. Nothing is permanent. My existence is like a blink of an eye lid in the history of the Universe. I come, then I go. Here and gone.
The next one was much deeper. It’s one thing to intellectualise that all things are One, and nothing is separate, but to experience this is altogether different. But at the subtlest level of existence this is true…the Unified Field of Oneness is the subtlest level of reality, a Uni-verse. One thing. And when there is one thing, there is no-thing that I am not. Then if I am all things there is no-thing lacking and no holes to fill in. We pass through life with a constant ache, trying to fill in perceived big black holes in our life. As we continue to fill all of these holes, like college degree, paying off the mortgage, getting married, making money, we find that there are simply more holes that keep opening up! It’s a never ending yearning that is never fully satiated. The ache continues to eat away inside me. Get more, need more.
Is the answer to continue to explore Oneness and realise there are no holes to fill? Yes there’s action, but what if the action was born out of completeness and an expression of fulfilment not for fulfilment?
This a simplistic perspective into the complexity of life. It doesn’t answer the dilemmas of plastic in the oceans, prejudice and racism, hunger and homelessness, domestic violence or the gazillion other issues facing humanity and the planet. But it sure got me thinking….