2023-01-30-Gil-Hindrances or Assistances (1 of 5) Helpful and Unhelpful Desires
6:56AM Feb 4, 2023
Hello on this Monday morning here in California and happy to be back. I was teaching a retreat at our insight retreat center this last week with Bruni Bruni Tao Bella. Wonderful retreat. And I am happy to be back here at IMC I'm beginning to feel here at IMC and IRC, a kind of coming to life again more fully from you know, that's kind of gone hibernated hours during the pandemic. And it's quite lovely to feel the the energy coming back and people coming back and it here at IMC may be fresh in my mind a little bit represented represented by we're starting up offering day long retreats here in person on Saturdays, and this coming Saturday. It's a wonderful teacher I just talked with Bruni, Bruni Davila will be teaching one of the first day alongs here, I think from nine to 430. So if anyone lives locally, and would like to come and meditate for a day and community. Now that's a wonderful opportunity. So the topic of this of these weeks from the beginning of the year, what I'm teaching here, is practicing with challenges, how to be with the challenges of life. And the challenges can be minor to being the most major challenges in life of life. And I've been hoping trying to lay down the foundation that applicable to all these different areas. And for the big challenge is that this is also a very important foundation. So that with time we can learn also, how to be with the really difficult things that happened to us, within us. And the topic this week, has to do with strategies for working with challenges. And there are two strategy general categories of strategies of working with challenges. The wines are dysfunctional, and ones are functional, one are wholesome and some others are unwholesome, helpful and unhelpful. And for the end, I want to use the teachings on the five hindrances and present them as common, unhelpful strategies that people use to cope with, to deal with challenges that come up. But I don't just want to do that, I want to say that each of those hindrances has a opposite quality, which is a healthy way of responding to challenges. And to have these two working together to know the two, as you get to know recognize how hindrances work in you. It's a that itself is a prompt to think about to die. Oh, what's the healthy form of the same thing? I'm being challenged right now by some difficulty. And my coping mechanism is a hindrance. Is there another strategy? What's the opposite would be the opposite? And how do I tap into that opposite in me, so it's integral it's, it's not a, it's not a overlay or pretend or something on top of everything. And, and often I, I enough, I think in Buddhism, that when the emphasis is talking about letting go and letting go of the dysfunctional things that the mind does, it's often a left they're just like, oh, like a like, Oh, and, and partly because as the practice gets deeper and deeper and deeper as meditation practice is really the practice matures. In fact, there's a profound letting go of everything. But to to have this attitude with both let go of everything right away. That's not really appropriate. It's, it would be like, you know, if you were going to go swimming in a public pool, you would go into a changing room and Take off your clothes and put on a bathing suit. And, and, and so you decide, well, you know what that's I just take off everything and jump in the pool by going to the changing room, you know, it's there's a time and place for, for, you know letting go of certain things, and so to to do it all at once, you know we end up undermining ourselves or diminishing the fullness and the strength in the I would like to say power of a human being that can come from the opposite of the hindrances, our strength resides there. And if we don't have it there, then our capacity for strength or energy can really flow into the hindrances. And sometimes people put more energy into the hindrances than they do almost anything else. So for example, the first one, sensual desire is people put more effort and energy into their addictions than almost anything else, someone has this really strong addiction, they make boy are they motivated, sometimes get out of their way, and they'll do almost anything to you know, satisfy their addiction. So a lot of energy there. And, but to have that have not that desperation, but to have really a sense of power and strength, in the opposite of the hindrances, the healthy versions is possible. So, first, we have to understand these. So the first hindrance is usually said to be sensual desire, the Buddha offered a separate list of the five hindrances, only difference being that the first one is covetous, covetousness, wanting the things other people have the wanting something somebody else has. So one is looking for the strong desire for everything in the world of sensual desire, not just for sex or not just for alcohol or something, but comfort and sensuality. And in the Buddhist analysis of human beings, this is one of the fundamental characteristics of human human life is, is sensual desire. And, and sometimes the acquisitiveness, sometimes has very deep roots inside of us, in the desire to survive, to manage in this life of ours. So, you know, it's, these things can have deep roots in us. But the there's a lot of dysfunctionality and sensual desire and acquisitive, because one of the things it does it, it kind of creates a very strong separation or shutting down or diminishment of our full connection to others into the world. Our connection to the world and to others, is through the lens of fulfilling that desire. And some people will even confuse love with a strong desire to fulfill a strong, strong desire to fulfill their sensual wishes. That person can provide me with that wonderful, sensual possibility. And, and so there's a strong kind of drive that is, you know, fills our being fills our heart that deep, deep kind of yearning and wanting, and that can be confused with love, it can be seen as a kind of love. But it just happens to be that it's probably more has to do with sensual desire than then what I think would be a heartfelt love. And so, a lot of what a lot of mindfulness practice has to do with men, say differently, have found a foundational aspect of mindfulness practice, is to really become an expert, really become attuned and skillful in recognizing the hindrances and working with them. So recognizing all the different flavors and colors and shapes of sensual desires that arise all the time, not to reject sensual pleasure, which has a place in life, it's maybe an important place in life at times. But it's the drive the addiction, the, the way in which get we get preoccupied and kind of lose ourselves in this world of sensual desire, that makes it a hindrance. And so when we have strong, strong, strong challenges in our life, some people try to cope with it by getting something else escaping into the world of sensual desire, or fantasizing about sensual desire, soothing themselves in an essential way, as a compensation for the challenge. They're in that could be useful at times. But as a hindrance is not useful when it's so strong.
On the other end of what's healthy and functional, there are profound desires inside of us capacity for desire capacity for wanting something that arises out of our kind of heartfelt desire that opens us desires that open and connect us here to this moment, rather than narrow us and close us down. When that kind of if anything frees us from addiction, rather than submerges us with addiction. And we often don't get this message in Buddhism, because of the strong idea that many people have that you're supposed to let go of all desire is sometimes people even think that all desire is wrong. The Buddha did not say that there's certain kinds of desire, which produce suffering, but they're also desire, dharmic, desires, desires that connect to the dharmic path, the desire to be free, the desire to be present. Compassion has desire and care has a desire in it to caring for someone. And then so where does so when we're challenged by life challenged by things, to take the time to pause, having the faith that inside us deep inside, there is a place of healthy desire, healthy wishes, force for well being for ourselves, for others, for welfare and goodness, and have to be present, to be part of the healing process, to be part of a transformational process towards, for ourselves in the world to be better placed. And if we could take the time when we have big challenges, to especially if we're caught in the hindrances, to see if we can shift gears, take a deep breath, try to find this deeper place where you have these healthy desires. And know that a place of healthy desires know that's part of it, that don't diminish ourselves or pretend it's not supposed to be there. But health is our desires are also the channel or the support for our personal strength, or are just kind of a power of sorts, even if it's very gentle power. There's a kind of wonderful strength in the gentleness of the desire and the wanting. And it it can be the fuel or the catalyst for agency for engagement, to know what to do. Not assertively not selfishly, not aggressively. But like water that just flows and flows around things and eventually wears all kinds of things down. We can have this give birth and give rise to and give expression to these healthy desires, once we know what they are, and we trust it, and we know that has important place in our life. In Buddhism, we allow ourselves to have a dharmic desires until the dharmic desires no longer have a role. And then we can let go of them, because they've done their job and so so you might consider this today. spend this day reflecting and feeling and maybe talking with friends about what you know about the deepest desires you have, that do not feel dysfunctional do not feel like they're hindrances or diminish you or frustrate you are or add more problems to your life. When we respond to challenges with hindrances, we tend to create more problems. When we respond to challenges. By tapping into finding the healthy desires, then we tend to be able to move towards health. And sometimes it takes takes time to reflect and to think go for a walk or spend time meditating or talking to a friend to drop down below the layers of reactivity and hindrances and things that we have until we tap into some of the deepest wellsprings of desire healthy desire within us. So what are your healthy desires? What is it that is what desires are valuable for you to stay close to, especially when you have challenges that help you help you go through a challenge with with without collapsing without being discouraged without succumbing to competence to compensate competent Tory kind of or escaping that the hindrances are so thank you. And and I trust that all of you have somewhere maybe silently maybe hidden for now. Have within you beautiful desires. Thank you