Friday, November 23, 2007


Buddhism teaches there are three types of suffering:

1) Suffering of Suffering - things which bring up fear and pain and we take measures to eliminate
2) Suffering of Change - things which at one time brought satisfaction and comfort and no longer do
3) All-Pervasive Suffering - the basis for the first two - to eliminate suffering you have to get rid of all the aggregates (category of sensory experiences) that are the basis of all suffering (attachment, clinging).

OK, if I have this straight, all sentient begins have suffering of suffering, hunger, pain, etc. Only humans are fickle and grow restless and tired with what they have, and are always wanting. But the real issue is our ideas, our beliefs, our attitudes. Our mind is what brings us the most suffering.

I'm thinking about Christmas. For me, no holiday has as many ideas, beliefs and attitudes associated with it. There are lots of ways to screw up Christmas, and very few ways to get it right. If the tree doesn't get picked with the right "energy" - if there aren't Christmas carols playing while it's decorated by one, big, happy, smiling, singing family, if each ornament isn't pulled from the box with rapt attention from all, then BAM - we've already ruined Christmas. When the lights are tangled, decorations damaged or missing, someone is not in the proper spirit according to someone else's attachment/expectations, then BAM! Christmas is ruined! If the calendar says, "Christmas Season" then it's Christmas Season - damn everything else. HO, HO, HO!

When one person in a family feels conflicting emotions, suffering of suffering, suffering of change, that can really throw a wrench into the festivities.

But should it?

We are certainly affected by those around us, but can they "ruin" things for us without our permission?

There is interconnectedness left and right, but we are all, in the end, alone and individuals. Can one person have high (maybe unrealistic) hopes of how things should be, and another person go on living with themselves despite the fact they are never able to reach the heights of those hopes held by another?

Whose job is it to make our dreams come true? Can we learn to have hopes, but then live with the peace that comes from detaching from the outcome of those hopes?

Do we have a choice?

Have a happy holiday season, if you want to, I don't really care one way or another.


Lee Wolfe Blum said... plan is to not have any expectations and just be pleasantly surprised. :)
Than I am not disappointed.

riversgrace said...

I just think of Christmas as death (because that's what is) and rebirth (because that's what is). Whether we show up to honor the cycle of one and then the other is up to us. Everything else is a prop that gets us there or distracts us.

I'd much rather be in the company of those who know it's getting darker and darker, then grateful for the tipping into light.

How it all plays out is pretty weird, extremes here and there, but I think we still go through it all just like every other part of nature.

Michelle O'Neil said...

I hear they have "perfect Christmas" in the town of Stepford.

Of course you gotta get a lobotomy and sell your soul first, but it's probably worth it.

Screw perfect.

Wishing you a perfectly imperfect holiday season.

Now lets order pizza!

Kathryn said...

This is the biggest challenge: To not have your happy contingent on another's behavior, no matter what. Seems especially true at Christmas.

Could there be a better word than "duhkha" to describe suffering? I think not!

Deb said...

This makes me think of what you wrote about your mom in law and your mom. Same holiday. Two very different events.

I am continually in awe of how you can make me ponder and laugh at the same time.

kario said...

I want you to have a happy holiday. I'm just not willing to suffer to make it happen, so don't call me if it doesn't. ;-).

Here's hoping everyone in your house finds a way to let go and enjoy simply being together. Or alone. Or whatever each of you wants. I'm sending love.

Suzy said...

And people wonder why I like spending Christmas alone..just me and the dogs dressed up like elves.
Not me- the dogs.

Love you


Terry Whitaker said...

I can picture all the players in the drama to perfection...and love them all.

Casdok said...

Yes very interesting.