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Thread: We take what we're given

  1. #1

    We take what we're given

    Those words have always helped me when my expectations (delusions) don't quite stack up with reality. I've been trying to live my life in such a way that I take what is given rather than pine over what is not.

    I heard someone say that reality is a brick wall and Zen is the simple act of learning to stop bashing into it. The more I practice Zazen, the more I remember that the world is as it should be. Every moment is perfect just as it is. It's only natural that some moments will be happy and some will be sad, but each has worth--- I shouldn't run from one or lust after another.

    I don't suppose this post has any real questions or any real point, but I'm okay with that.

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Having already outed myself as an old Usenet geek, I'd like to share a message that Terry Pratchett (one of my favourite authors) posted on alt.fan.pratchett

    You can't make people happy by law. If you said to a bunch of average people two hundred years ago "Would you be happy in a world where medical care is widely available, houses are clean, the world's music and sights and foods can be brought into your home at small cost, travelling even 100 miles is easy, childbirth is generally not fatal to mother or child, you don't have to die of dental abcesses and you don't have to do what the squire tells you" they'd think you were talking about the New Jerusalem and say 'yes'.

  4. #4
    Hi Happy Campers,

    Two articles related to all this caught my eye this week ...

    According to a government study, antidepressants have become the most commonly prescribed drugs in the United States. They're prescribed more than drugs to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, asthma, or headaches... Adult use of antidepressants almost tripled between the periods 1988-1994 and 1999-2000.
    http://<br /> <a href="http://http:...index.html</a>

    I strongly encourage everyone in the Sangha to read this book review ...

    Though we have more things now than our parents did, and more possibilities for our lives, we are not necessarily happier. The American gross domestic product has doubled in the last thirty years, but the portion of the population that describes itself as “very happy” has declined by five percent. Meanwhile the rate of serious clinical depression has more than tripled over the past two generations, as has the teen suicide rate. Schwartz argues that the source of much of this unhappiness lies in the overwhelming abundance of choices we’re faced with. It’s an argument that seems, on its face, counterintuitive. ... That we adapt to pleasure (or pain) is something we all know intuitively. We pine for a new car, and when it first arrives in our driveway we’re thrilled. A week later the pleasure quotient has already lessened, and within a year we’re complaining about the clutch and looking with hungry eyes upon our neighbor’s new Saab. It’s a losing game, but one we nonetheless play—in the hope that this time things will be different. “Faced with this inevitable disappointment, what do people do?” asks Schwartz. “Some simply give up the chase and stop valuing pleasure derived from things. Most are driven instead to pursue novelty, to seek out new commodities and experiences whose pleasure potential has not been dissipated by repeated exposure. In time, these new commodities also will lose their intensity, but people still get caught up in the chase.”


    http://<br /> <a href="http://http:...460-1.html</a>

    Don't Worry, Be Happy Gassho, Jundo

  5. #5
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    To be fair, the thing about anti-depressants is not totally correcct. Not all of them are prescribed for depression or other mood disorders.

    When new medication is created, doctors test it for one thing. Over time, they'll discover that the med may have other effects, then test it for that. For example, I have chronic back pain, and the type of meds I tried include a tryciclic antidepressent and a couple of anti-epileptics (one of the latter works best). Antidepressants are used for many pain problems, in part because they do something to the pain center of the brain, and doctors aren't totally sure how they work. I think they are actually prescribed quite often for pain or pain-related problems these days. While many people do take them for psychological effects, that is far from their only usage. And the same is true for many other meds as well.

    Also, these meds may be used for disorders that were generally considered to be psychological but aren't: panic disorders, for example, are most often chemical imbalances and not "all in the mind".

    And I say that while living in the country that has the highest consumption of psychotropic drugs per capita (France)...

  6. #6
    By the way, very important ...

    I did not mean to suggest that 'Zazen' is the cure for all things, or that all use of anti-depressants, other medications and proper treatment under a doctor are not needed sometimes. Zazen, believe it or not, is not the cure for everything ... it will not cure cancer, dandruff, bad teeth or many types of serious psychological condition (in fact, it can worsen the situation sometimes). Surely, Zen practice will help you embrace and 'allow' the cancer, but will not cure it. It will help in allowing and embracing treatment too, but is not a cure.

    So, if someone is suffering from deep depression or any number of other psychological/physical conditions, modern psychology and psychiatry can work wonders.

    I was depressed as a teenager, and I recall it being like having fallen in a deep hole with no escape. Of course, my mind created that image, but it felt real at the time. I suppose that, in combination with proper psychological/psychiatric care, our Zen practice is an aid in realizing how much that sad mental image of the world is just that, an image that can be changed for another.

    Gassho, Jundo

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I strongly encourage everyone in the Sangha to read this book review ...

    Though we have more things now than our parents did, and more possibilities for our lives, we are not necessarily happier. The American gross domestic product has doubled in the last thirty years, but the portion of the population that describes itself as “very happy” has declined by five percent. Meanwhile the rate of serious clinical depression has more than tripled over the past two generations, as has the teen suicide rate. Schwartz argues that the source of much of this unhappiness lies in the overwhelming abundance of choices we’re faced with. It’s an argument that seems, on its face, counterintuitive. ... That we adapt to pleasure (or pain) is something we all know intuitively. We pine for a new car, and when it first arrives in our driveway we’re thrilled. A week later the pleasure quotient has already lessened, and within a year we’re complaining about the clutch and looking with hungry eyes upon our neighbor’s new Saab. It’s a losing game, but one we nonetheless play—in the hope that this time things will be different. “Faced with this inevitable disappointment, what do people do?” asks Schwartz. “Some simply give up the chase and stop valuing pleasure derived from things. Most are driven instead to pursue novelty, to seek out new commodities and experiences whose pleasure potential has not been dissipated by repeated exposure. In time, these new commodities also will lose their intensity, but people still get caught up in the chase.”

    http://<br /> <a href="http://http:...460-1.html</a>
    Barry Schwartz was a speaker at TED back in 2005 when he wrote this book. Here is a link to his talk. http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/93

    TED is a huge resource of dialog from some of the great thinkers of our time. I've been moved to tears more than once watching some of these presentations.

  8. #8
    A friend of mine in university used to call it "an embarrassment of riches."

    I think that the mental paralysis caused by overwhelming choices is cropping up in spiritual matters as well as in picking a breakfast cereal in the grocery aisle. Now, I completely agree with the position that some choice is better than none - I think that this goes a long way to explaining Nishijima Roshi's experience that Westerners who've chosen Buddhism are often more committed than the people who just inherited their father's monastery.

    But I also see a lot of the behaviour Charlotte Joko Beck talked about in the last chapter we read - people running after every new spiritual leader, looking for the perfect teaching that will get them enlightened right quick. But spending all one's time bopping around from one tradition to another seems a bit like the "chasing two rabbits and catching none" cliche.

    I started my Buddhist practice a Soto zendo. I loved my zendo. I miss my zendo. So when I moved to a new city, I tried to find a replacement zendo - but there's none within 100 km of here (and I don't drive). Which is how I ended up attending the Ch'an monastery instead. After the first few months of griping about how "This isn't the way we did it at my Soto zendo," I realised, hey, this isn't too bad really.

    Some famous Ajahn once likened living in a monastery to shaking up a bag of pebbles until they become smooth. I don't think I'd like that lifestyle, but I do think that it's healthy to admit that I sometimes have to adapt myself to my surroundings, and give up trying to adapt my surroundings to me.

    (Does anyone else have Mick Jagger's "You can't always get what you want" on an endless loop in their heads while reading this thread? Heh, I guess you do now!)

  9. #9
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    Nearly 20 years ago, I spent a year in Norway, after having lived in France for several years. (FWIW, I have lived in France since then, but was born and raised in the US.) My wife and I were much more relaxed in supermarkets because, for example, there were only two types of laundry detergent: with and without phosphates. For most products, there were two brands, maybe three (except for beer). It's probably a bit different by now, but the lack of choice made shopping much less of a chore.

    Kirk

  10. #10

    we take what we're given

    Hellos to everyone!
    Ah, the illusion of choice!
    While it may appear there is choice...
    Turns out in the soda industry there are only two/three major companies turning out all these 'choices,' which, in essence is just 'choice' between keeping company A or company B in business.
    This is not the only sector of the business world where there is essentially little or no choice--when we follow where the flow of money goes.
    Just what is this choice 'I' excercise? Hell if 'I' know!

    As long as greed, anger and ignorance play a role as the basis for behavior, 'choice' exists (because we either take action along those lines or their opposites). When greed, anger and ignorance are just clouds floating freely through consciousness, 'choice' doesn't exist.

    There is this moment, and what we do just naturally arises.

    Yes, there is the infinitude of all the factors which pour into the making of each moment, and then the infinitude of all the factors pouring into the making of each moment.

    I used to think there was choice--and I thought that with choice there was freedom. I liked thinking I had freedom of choice.
    True, I still make decisions--left, right or straight ahead.
    But I now think that 'true' freedom is no choice--only responding to this moment this moment this moment.

    gassho
    Keishin

  11. #11

    Re: we take what we're given

    Quote Originally Posted by Keishin
    But I now think that 'true' freedom is no choice--only responding to this moment this moment this moment.
    The proverbial nail has been hit on it's head!

  12. #12
    Read in the news yesterday that Kimberly-Clark has unveiled the world's first Automatic toilet paper dispenser

    A year in the works, the electronic tissue dispenser is being rolled out to the masses by Kimberly-Clark Professional as it seeks to capture more of the $1 billion away-from-home toilet paper market. The company believes most people will be satisfied with five sheets — and use 20% less toilet paper.

    "Most people will take the amount given," says Thorne. Waxing philosophical, he adds, "People generally in life will take what you give them."
    I read an article about toilet paper and automatically I think of this forum... hmm

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