By John Lee Pendall
We all want the good stay. It’s not just humans either, all living beings seem to be like this to some extent.
We tend to have a “Just one more” mindset. Just one more bite, one more laugh, one more dance, glance, one more drink. Sometimes the drift is sweet, when what’s drifting is bad. Sometimes it’s bitter. Mostly, it’s bitter-sweet.
Almost all emotions are mixed emotions, aren’t they?
There’s always a little fear in love, a little joy in hate, and morsel of beauty in loneliness. So we’re rarely satisfied as much as we’d like to be, and the drift always takes it all away—everything we love, and everything that causes us pain.
Where does it go? What a strange question. Nothing really disappears, how can it?
Things don’t appear out of nowhere, so they can’t really disappear into nowhere either. Causes and conditions just transform them into something else along the way. Things are always in the process of becoming other than what they are, that’s the drift. Everything is in transit, the bags are already packed.
The question is, can we let it be that way? Can we let it all drift, and can we be drifters too? Can we leave home—meaning our views of a changeless self and other—and can we settle into transformation?
Instead of seeing good and bad, can we just see stubborn preferences created for someone who is no longer here? If we can, then there’s hope for us—hope that we can befriend the drift and let it wash away everything that is unnatural to us. If not, then suffering will keep seeping into everything, filling up the empty space with grief, worry, apathy and pain.
Emptiness means that everything’s like an empty cup that’s constantly being filled by the mind.
What the mind fills it with is entirely determined by its habitual views and motives. Drifting things don’t cause suffering, it’s the mind’s relationship to these drifting things that causes suffering and relief from suffering.
So if we can let our views and motives change, we’ll naturally start to see more and suffer less. To let motives be, we practice morality and settling the mind; to let views be, we study and observe it, all for the benefit of all beings. That’s the heart of all Mahayana Buddhism. Schools just differ based on their emphasis and means.
I think everyone can do it. In fact, I think it’s already done; we’re just not paying attention. True insight always has, “It’s always been such,” as an aspect to it. We just have to see that for ourselves.
Editor: Dana Gornall