The following talk was given at the Insight Meditation Center in Redwood City, California, please visit our website at audio dharma.org.
So, hello, everyone, and welcome to this series on the 10 protectors. And so today's protection is has to do with contentment. And its particular form of contentment. But before I talk about the particularity of it, I'll say a few things, repeating myself from the guided meditation, that there are people who consider contentment to be a dangerous state. Because it undermines the motivation that people get from being discontented that if we want to, if we're discontented with the state of affairs as they are, then we won't fight or we won't work to change them. And, and certainly, there are things we should not be content with. And there are things that maybe are not healthy, to be discontented with. The there are people who have plenty of money, who are discontented with what they have, and want to be richer than that. There are people who have plenty of pleasures, but always want more. There are people who have plenty of stuff, but they always want more and better. And so to be driven by discontent is what supports, you know, many economies in the world. And so there's, there's a vested interest in people who many people to keep us discontented. So we keep buying or sweet, keep working long hours, to try to get ahead. And, and to kind of be feeding or encouraging discontent, is I think part of what advertisements, though do and, and so to, in some ways to be content in in, in certain ways, is a radical act. It's a disrupting act. For the Buddhist point of view, they benefit of contentment is that then it's easier to focus on the practice to focus on what's happening here and now. And now, if there and then r is a two dimensional reality, and fantasy is a one dimensional reality, then being really rooted and grounded here in ourselves, is entering into a three dimensional reality, it's more rich, it's more multi colors, like going from black and white to multicolor. And, and this being this three dimensional reality of now, does not mean that we don't think about the past in the future or that we don't, in some ways, let the creative mind fantasize. But we do it rooted here. We don't lose touch with this place here. And contentment is one of the great states that helps us to be rooted and enabled to stay here. And the teachings on these 10 protectors. The Buddha was giving the teachings to monastics, and for them he said that they should be content with the basic necessities of life. And what is not often recognized as the monastic lifestyle designed by the Buddha might look like a deprived life from the point of view of how many people in the modern West might be living. But it was meant in ancient India, to be the middle way, where just enough basic necessities are provided to live well. But not more than that. But not was not an ancient India understood to be a life with deprivation that wasn't considered to be an ascetic life. Because there were people who were more extreme in that direction. For the Buddha, we were not supposed to harm ourselves. So there was no aesthetic, you know, flagellation, that was going on, but rather, this enter into this meditation that was understood to be a pleasant, abiding and enjoyable place to be provided that we had the basic necessities. And so what monks nuns are content with it. Is the food, the food that comes in their arms bowl, the clothes, they have the shelters that are given to them, and the basic medicine to, for their, for their health. So those are the four basic necessities. And to be content with that, and how many of us maybe are not so content with just having the nest having the basic necessities, we have more clothes than we need. And we are not buying clothes for the sake of just staying warm and and protected from insects and such things dirt. But we're getting close and paying a lot of money sometimes for for other reasons. And then to how many of us are not content with having a simple roof over our house, but we want a bigger house a nicer house, home or something. How many of us are not content with the basic necessity of food that we have. But we're you know, buying food that's expensive. And we don't really need it. But it's so nice, it's so pleasant, it's so enjoyable. And so for a monastic, to be content with the basic necessities, then gives them it's easier to live a radically simple lifestyle, a lifestyle that allows them to stay connected to the dharma, the dharma that they love, the dharma practice, which I like to engage in, without having a lot of other things to take care of, that can make it harder for this, you know, love affair that monastics will have with the dharma, they want to stay close to their lover, it's so important to stay close and attend to it and let that relationship grow and develop and flower all day all moments of a life of the day. So to be content with the basic necessities has the core thing here. And those of us living a lay life, it might be a little bit different. What do we consider the basic necessities? The ancient Buddha didn't consider the emotional needs or the interpersonal needs, as as much as maybe as needed for people in modern cultures. And so we have we have a richer kind of domain of basic necessities that we have to take care of. But still, can we find how much we need so we can be content? And and what is the nature of our discontentment? If you feel discontented, or what is that? Why, what's driving the discontent? Is there some feeling of lack or some feeling of insecurity? Is there a strong sense of desire? What's that feeling of not enough, like, what's really happening here? And is there another way to address not having enough, another way of addressing that something has to happen, I have to do something, I have to be busy. And really to settle something here to relax the belly to relax the shoulders, relax the mind in the heart, to really sit, sit, sit down and learn how to be content. Even if that contentment is just for that period of the meditation practice. The there are things we should be discontented about. There's healthy contentment and unhealthy discontentment. There's unhealthy, others healthy discontent, and there's unhealthy discontent. So both both have their place, and both can be unhealthy. And so to be discontented, with our suffering, to be discontented with the suffering of the world, that night, that's not necessarily a bad thing that can be motivating for sure. But, so we should act on that. One of the ways to act on that is to really sit and meditate and settle our discontent. So that we don't add our suffering on top of suffering. And be contented enough to sit and be present for what's happening with us. And find the way through our suffering from the inside out, than trying to change the world around us so we don't suffer.
And if we need to change the world around us because it is suffering, then to distinguish acting in the world, from the activity, of meditating, meditating, meditating is not the time to act. This is a time for some other process to deepen and unfold. And to learn how to be content with the moments we're meditating so that we're not kind of still spinning and driven by the desires that Change the world or to get what we want or avoid what we don't want to be content with our lives, at least for the period of meditation. Maybe we have a time, my necessities are taken care of I have enough food. For those of us who do. We have enough. We've had enough shelter. For those of us who do, we have enough clothing for those of us who do. And we have enough medicine for now at least for this moment, for those of us who do, and, and so to feel that contentment, that these were these minutes, it's okay, it's a special, this is unusual for human beings to have the time, the ability, the wherewithal, the understanding, the dedication, to sit down and meditate. Meditation is a phenomenally useful and important act. And it's a phenomenal gift to the world, that the inner transformation that can happen through meditation. We don't continue life with business as usual with greed, hate and delusion. But we settle all, that's all that's unresolved on unsettled in us, so that in that settle state, some of the most beautiful qualities of our being can come forth, and represented by things like generosity, love, and wisdom. And then coming out of meditation, we have maybe a better way of knowing how to act. And if there are we are discontented with a state of affairs, then we know how to act and what to do. If we are discontented with all the dirty dishes in our kitchen, then we go and wash the dishes in a meditative way, in a contemplative way in a respectful, present moment engaged way that feels like we're bringing meditation with us into our life. And it's an enjoyable thing, we're not rushing off and multitasking, if what we feel is the suffering of the world elsewhere. Whether it's you know, anywhere right now, and Israel is huge, the suffering there, the whole nation is traumatized or DePayne, Ukraine, deep pain, and yoga, this goes on. If this really troubles us, when we come out of meditation, and we're discontented with our states, then maybe we have the generosity or the wherewithal to do something about them. And even the smallest lacked, may be offering donation to charities or to someone who's helping the sick and the wounded or doing something we don't want to meditation is not how to be calm and uninterested in the world. It's to be deeply contented with ourselves with the moment in a certain way. So that the what motivates us to act in the world to change the world, comes from a place of tremendous well being comes from a place of generosity, that comes from a wellsprings within of our goodness, not from the agitation of our fear and distress and our anger. This is the possibility that contentment can bring. So I would encourage you today to explore this, the your contentment and your discontentment. Do you? Would you characterize it as you go through the day, maybe once an hour or check in with yourself? And would you characterize how you are as more on the discontented side of the spectrum? Or more in the contented side? If you're discontented? What's happening? What is that about? Can you settle it? Can you be present for it? Can you investigate it? If you're more on the contented side of the spectrum, feel that enjoy that take that in be nourished by it. And if it's just a little bit on that spectrum, by recognizing the small amount of contentment you have, is there some way that's appropriate way to settle into it more fully? So it becomes a resource that supports and guides your day. So thank you very much. And we have two more of these 10 protectors. Thank you