Appetite Is Also a Blessing
About two years ago, my youngest son was born. The delivery, a c-section, went as smoothly as it could...something my wife and I didn't take for granted because with my oldest my wife pushed for nearly 4 hours and had 3 (yes, I said 3!) botched epidurals. But everything had gone wonderfully and after a very full day we let our newborn sleep in the nursery so we could get some rest ourselves. But in the middle of the night we awoke to some very scary news: Our son was turning blue every time he was fed and was being rushed to the NICU. I'll cut the suspense; he's fine now! He stayed there for a week before we were able to take him home and it wasn't until the last day or so that he had anything to eat. Our doctor only told us later that no one in the NICU, not even the director, had ever seen a case like his where, everytime you tried to feed him, he would turn blue. Eventually they disagnosed him with gastroparesis, a condtion where the contents of his stomach empty very slowly, and developed a method to feed him with bottles designed for premature babies, but for the next two years he didn't even appear on the growth chart. His offical designation for most of those two years? Less than 3rd percentile. At his last visit about two weeks ago? 3rd percentile. He's a small little guy and has a hearty appetite now, but since that time we have never taken having appetite for granted.
QUESTION: Was there ever an experience you went through or a phrase uttered by a teacher that ultimately led to you not take something for granted?
Plum Blosssoms Open the Early Spring
We have all at one time or another thought of things that would make us happier. As pointed out in this section, money can seem like a very global elixir since its reach extends not just into material goods, but also in the longing for fame and status. Before coming to practice I searched long and hard for every new toy that could make me happy. When I was a child, it was actual toys. As an adult, it was the best food, the nicest car, the cleanest house. But even the best tasting food would just make me want more, the new car would lose its luster, and the clean house would just wait until it was dirty again. It was as if I were trying to fill a hole that could never be filled. But even as I learned about zazen and was welcomed into the sangha here at Treeleaf, there continues to be a longing for something I feel my life has lacked: Friendship. It is a worthy goal, especially as part of our sangha, but will finding a "best friend" fill the empty hole I often feel inside me? I have heard other people, even here at Treeleaf, refer to the friends they have in their daily lives as their "real" friends. But if tomorrow all your friends were gone and no one else wanted to be your friend, would you feel whole? This is a tough one since you can always make a new friend, but what if you couldn't? And I don't mean if you were stranded on a desert island. What if you were constantly surrounded by people, but none ever extended their hand in friendship? Could you be whole? I have to logically answer, "Yes." And I would try to embrace it with open arms, but could you? The human, non-logical, part of me isn't quite so sure!
QUESTION: Can you think of an example of something that right now, even after months or years of dedicated practice, still makes you wonder if it could bring you happiness?
Thank you all for your practice...deep bows.