Monday, August 8, 2016

vibhava taṇhā

When I say that we struggle to be what we already are, maybe it would help to take this down to a basic example.  Animals foraging for food.  This is not an imperative to have food.  It is an imperative to action.  It is the struggle to acquire food.  That feeling of wanting is a part of the already doing.

This does not assuage the physical hunger that might also be a significant factor, but that is not the source of what we feel.  Craving, desire, discontent.. these are not the feelings of not having.  These are the feelings our minds generate, as part of what we are.  In many instances not so easily satiated as mere hunger.  We can go through our entire lives craving and discontent.  It isn't really about what we don't have, but a process of the mind.  Part of what makes us human.  Alive.. but it's also a mirage.

You might say that life is about the journey, not the destination.  Or that it's important to do things for their own sake, not for some eventual outcome.  These are variations on the same principle, but one that that can be taken into all the workings of consciousness, how all the machinery turns, every moment we're awake, and when we're dreaming.  When we want to upend our entire lives, or when we just want to do nothing.

Each step we take, we take because taking that step is what we are,  It isn't about where the steps take us, or where we're trying to go.  It's the myriad of circumstances that impel us to take each step.   By all means, keep walking.  Or don't.  You'll do whatever you're going to do.  Be mindful of the process therein.

2 comments:

Unknown said...

There's a finer distinction in doing things for the sake of doing, and not as a means to attain in that it emphasises the doing instead of the doer. To say craving is not a sign of not having implies that there is simply nothing to be sought, but to say that it is not always as easily satiated as mere hunger implies both a self and a self that is looking for something. Therein lies a contradiction.

It's not a mirage more than anything else is, but it also has as much to do with you as anything else does, that is to say either nothing or everything, it doesn't matter which one, if all is the same.

Joshua Abell said...

As plants bend towards sunlight, or bees go from flower to flower, this is the result of a biological imperatives. Chain reactions of chemistry and circumstance. Not an indication that plants and insects have a self, in any cognizant sense.

"Tanha" is not illusory because there is nothing to be sought, but rather because your mind will always have something to seek. It isn't really about the object it appears to be about. It's just what the mind does. Like a mirage, you get to where you thought it was, always to see something else on the horizon that's needed just as much.

In Buddhism, the fourth "noble truth" says that this can be stopped, but of that, I'm skeptical. To say that at the very least, it should not be such a source of unhappiness, does make sense to me, though.