2022-08-03 Finding Our Way (3 of 5) With Joy and Dispair
2:58PM Aug 3, 2022
Come to the third talk in this five part series, I've called it finding our way, and finding our way with these different pairs of states that we can experience that sometimes exist in relationship to each other, and sometimes can exist independent of each other, sometimes can be healthy and sometimes can be unhealthy. And today, that pairing is that of joy and despair. And, for me, the way I think of this, the joy that I've kind of been awoken in me through this Buddhist practice, I think of it as a big Yes. Yes. And even not knowing what I'm saying yes to, I mean, I'm not saying yes to anything, it's just the abs, that something brightens inside of me, opens and delights me, that joy. And that, in that regard, then despair is no Oh, no, kind of a giving up a kind of a deflation kind of drop and loss of energy, sinking, feeling of maybe hopelessness or great disappointment or great sense of, of fear of what might come and and so this Yes, movement in this no movement that can exist together. A little bit that yeah, like yesterday, gladness and the sadness, that joy can come from hope. And when hope is dashed, a can bring a lot of despair, there is no hope, it can bring a lot of despair. But the but one of the most strongest sociation with these two, has to do with purpose, that when we have a clearer sense of healthy purpose, that there can be a kind of a yes to that, that kind of our system or being it gets involved in doing it. And when there's no sense of purpose, or the purpose seems hopeless, or, or is not working out there, we can't engage in it, then there can be despair, about not fulfilling this purpose that's important for us. And the question is, what is it what is the purpose we have? Is it a valuable, healthy purpose, there can be joy, in the engagement and doing of things which are unhealthy. You know, you can really fully be immersed in eating, only desserts, for lunch, and for dinner, just completely engaged. And the concentration, the absorption, that, that everything else in the world falls away, because it's just desert, can be joyful, can be have a feeling of the engagement is so nice. But it might not be healthy for you on the and there might be things that you know, are healthy to do. But the way that we engage in it is not healthy, we might do it with the resentment with reluctance, hesitation, and there's, and we don't really give ourselves over to doing it. And so maybe we can't be successful and they're doing something half hearted. But it's an important thing to do. And so we feel despair of something that's healthy, that we do. So the sense of purpose, what do we have a purpose for what's the intention is that a very important part of human life. And it's a valuable thing to do in a spiritual life is to spend time reflecting on the purpose, the intention, the reasons the the goals in which we have set ourselves up what we're doing, and, and this can set up then joy or despair even wonderful, lovely, important valuable spiritual dedications or purposes meditation purposes, can bring a lot of despair. If we are unsuccessful in doing it, we don't reach what we're trying to do. What I'd like to propose is that it's important to spend time reflecting on what our purposes are. And where there is the purpose is just to cook a meal or clean the dishes, or the purpose is to develop our mature spiritually driven Buddhist practice. These met these motivations purposes are important become clear about so then we can inhabit the purpose. We can really say yes to it and engage and hopefully it's a healthy purpose.
And then something and then have a sense of, of, of appropriateness of how we attain these purposes. I mean if you if you sit down and my purpose is to get enlightened, but first you don't even know how to do breath meditation, maybe first you need to learn the basics of breath meditation, learn about the hindrances. And so the purpose, there's all these earlier purposes, we have to inhabit and follow through on before we can attain the full ones. So the sense of purpose I'm talking about here is not an abstract purpose, which might be, you know, some distant one which might be important for us. But rather each step of what we do, how we engage in the moment, in the direction of that purpose. So if the purpose is to be able to, you know, develop strong concentration, then engage fully for a while understanding your hindrances. Without really becoming wise about the hindrances, you probably won't get to it reliably healthfully concentrated, and to engage in that process, study the hindrances, and that's the purpose, that's what we engage ourselves in. So when we despair can come and we don't have a purpose, we don't have an engagement. And so this idea of, of joy, and, and despair, which are healthy, are founded or based on a healthy sense of purpose. And then learning how to inhabit that purpose, purpose, in the moment, doing in the moment, what's appropriate for that purpose, not sitting there kind of just daydreaming about a big purpose far in the future. But if this purpose is important enough, what do I enter into and habit do now. And so for example, if now this idea of concentration, and involvement, I need to learn about the hindrances, so maybe the next step is to read about them. And so then you would sit down and away and really purposefully engage, you wouldn't read the book or an article about the hindrances. Like you would read a novel and just kind of as entertainment and just to kind of be carried along to relax, you would do it purposefully engage in it, but not in a way that's stressful, of course, and this is where the art of all this is. But it's a way that brings you joy, and that there's a yes, there's the Art of Doing of engaging, that brings joy. And not a lot of people have learned this. They've learned it in certain areas, certain things, which are fun to do, they can really enjoy doing that. But there's an art to learning how to do anything that you need to do in a joyful way, in a way that's a big Yes, you. It's the in doing it, it's so much greater good. If you have to clean the toilet today, the more senior monks and Buddhist monasteries, in Japan, it's their assigned to the task of toilet cleaning. And maybe because they have the spiritual maturity to really do it. So he has he cleaned the toilet. So maybe you don't like it, it'll be gross. And so you do it like half heartedly. But to do it fully, just really, if this is what you're doing this your life energy, for this moment is clean a toilet, do it as if it's everything, it's the whole just give yourself to a yes to doing that. When I'm teaching, teaching, you're today's a lot of what I learned through Zen training, where if you sweep the courtyard you really that's what you do you give yourself over to it, toilets, whatever you're doing, that you give yourself to it. And the surprise of it, is that it's possible to learn to really feel a sense of joy and delight and, and happiness and just giving ourselves over to it. Even if you're sick and don't have much energy, then you have to keep what is giving yourself over really do something with purpose. What does it look like given the conditions of your life if you're sick or in pain, whatever the circumstances are, the sense of doing is in harmony with the circumstances with yourself and the world around you. But this is what you're doing. You say yes to this.
It can be overdone. It can be done with stress. So you're exhausted at the end. And they can we can learn the art of doing that. There's it's it's we're fully there, but we're relaxed in doing so this art of appreciating the value of What we're actually doing, while we're doing it can be a source of tremendous joy. And that kind of joy can grow. And part of the despair that people can experience is when they have no sense of purpose, when the purpose they had for their life kind of gets shattered. And the, or they're unsuccessful in their purpose, purpose is very important. And so the relationship between purpose and fulfilling a purpose, engaging in a purpose, and your joy and despair is something to reflect on and look at and consider. And certainly knowing you're doing something that's wonderfully and meaningful for you, and purposeful can be a source of joy. But if it's only abstract in the head, the evaluation of it or I'm doing something wonderful, then you're missing where the juice is, where the real heart is of this practice of mindfulness and the way it can really grow in us grow for our life. And that is the give yourself to the purpose of the moment. Give yourself to the whatever bigger purpose you have, if you're pursuing it, or engaged in it, in the, what is the steps in the moment. So it can mean just to be made me make the point in his silly little example, say that the purpose is to you big purpose to get develop concentration, and meditation. You've heard now that reading about the hindrances and learning about them and understanding them well is a very important stepping stone for concentration. So now you, but now, you don't have a book on costs on the hindrances, you don't have anything. So you go to the library to get one count library, said hey, have. And so now walking to walking to the library, driving to the library, biking to the library, that's the task of the moment, you forget about going to the library, you can use yours, you set the course to go there. And now you give yourself over to the going to the library. When you get to the library, and this is how it works in a monastery. When you open the library door, you give yourself over to opening that door. You give yourself walking down the aisles finding the book. And so it's the doing for something really important comes up the purpose of doing things in a purposeful way, intentional way, so that you find joy in it. I'm not suggesting this is easy. But it's possible to live a life of Yes. And if the purpose is valuable, and you find this kind of value and inhabiting, engaging in what you're doing, then it doesn't matter if you're successful so much. You might fail at things, but you're so happy about the way you did it. It was rewarding the way you did it was rewarding. And if you're successful or not successful, your joy, happiness and well being is less dependent eventually on the success or failure. But in how you do it, how you were involved with what you did. For today, you know, maybe giving you lots to think about and to engage in for the day, but to maybe make the key points. Reflect on purpose. What role does purpose have in your life? And have you dismissed this value of purpose? Can you find a sense of purpose? Purpose doesn't have to be big purpose. It could be the small purpose of the next five minutes the next hour, what's the purpose you have? And then the yes of engaging in purpose in the in the step by step ways, the small steps it takes whatever purpose it is not to be ahead of yourself from the activity of the moment, the individual steps to get there. And to find how a yes and engagement in the steps to whatever you're doing that purpose that that is purposeful as well. Finding purpose in how you do things is one of the great joys and secrets of a well developed life.
And it'll support your practice. Your mindfulness practice is a way of of manifesting your mindfulness into our life. So I hope you enjoy it. I hope you find it a delightful day with yes to whatever You're doing and and exploring your sense of purpose