Clear Motivation

"Be kind whenever possible. It's always possible" – The Dalai Lama

Dependently Arisen Muffin

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Yesterday I tried to relax around time by seeing that it’s merely designated by thought and concept. But there’s still lots more craziness in my mind.

The Buddha’s teaching that all misery and unsatisfactory states are rooted in ignorance is not entirely unique. However, his explanation of the meaning of ignorance is.

I find his description both a shock and a relief.

He stated that the way all things appear is not in line with the way they exist. That’s a lot to get a handle on. At the same time, it’s wonderfully refreshing! If I can change the way I apprehend phenomena, I can completely eliminate all major and minor displeasure.

What I find most encouraging is that the discrepancy between appearance and reality becomes evident the moment I start examining how things exist.

Understanding the ultimate reality of things doesn’t require blindly accepting any dogma or relying on mystical practices. I only need to think about things logically.

It’s important to do this because correctly seeing the reality of things undermines disturbing emotions.

Anger, attachment, hostility, lust, annoyance, greed, jealousy, arrogance, delusion – all of these mental events cause me inner turmoil.

Buddha explained that these mental afflictions arise from mistakenly conceiving things to exist independently. Thus they can be removed by understanding that things actually exist dependently.

Today I will apply reasoning to the objects I perceive throughout the day. I’ll start with something basic – how about my breakfast muffin?

So when I see the muffin sitting on the table before me, I will investigate – where is that muffin? What is that muffin really?

It seems definitely to be a solid, substantial thing that simply exists in-and-of itself. That’s the appearance.

To ascertain how it really exists, I’ll start by reflecting on its causes. There is no muffin without wheat seeds being planted and growing into wheat, which was harvested, processed, etc. Other causes were the cow whose milk was churned into butter and the chicken whose eggs were blended into dough. Then someone baked it and the waitress brought it to me.

Since many conditions had to exist in order for this muffin to arise, the muffin actually doesn’t exist as a self-existent entity, all by its lonesome.

The benefit of thinking in this way was just made vivid to me. While writing this, breakfast was delivered. There was no muffin at all. What I saw instead was a misshapen pastry with brownish glaze; presumably a piece of a cinnamon bun.

I could have felt disappointed. Instead, reflecting on the causes and conditions and the kindness of others by which I had received that food, I was grateful.

If breakfast seems insignificant, what if I apply this analysis to Osama Bin Laden? The whole notion of enemies, and the hatred accompanying it, will fall apart.

Today, I will continue cultivating this discernment, relating to objects realistically and increasing my peace of mind and joy along the way.


Author: Jonathan Owen

Just another human being.

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