The Suffering of Craving

318902_10151082684651512_660739016_nExplaining the Second Noble Truth, the Buddha said:
“And this, monks is the noble truth of the origination of dukkha: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure.”
In the West, craving is so accepted and pervasive it seems to be a way of life.  Although it can feel like swimming upstream, Buddhist practice offers a way to put craving into perspective and reduce its intensity.
from Sue:
One of my biggest cravings is around food.  I look at every meal in terms of the taste pleasures it might offer.  Before beginning Dharma practice, I didn’t realize how much suffering this was causing.  For me, this happens two ways.  First, I so dread the end of a delicious meal that I often forget that I’m actually eating.  (Oh, the irony!)  Second, to put off the inevitable end of the meal, I sometimes overeat to the point of discomfort.
Now that I am starting to glimpse this reality, I can notice and appreciate the present moment while eating: what it tastes like, who I’m with, who prepared the food, etc.  I can anticipate that overeating won’t actually make me happy, and in fact can be painful.  Luckily, since eating is something I need to do daily, I get a lot of chances to work with it.  It is becoming an important part of my practice.
from Andy:
I seem to need a dominant Big Craving that may last weeks, months, or years.  Right now it’s bicycles.  I read bicycle magazines, pour over Craigslist bike ads, work on bikes in my garage, and occasionally even ride them.  Sometimes thoughts of bicycles start the minute I wake up, pop up throughout the day, and may even come in dreams.
Designing or retrofitting streets for pedestrians and bicycles is part of my job.  I think that’s the allure of Big Cravings — they are rooted in a practical need that balloons into obsession.  Past Big Cravings have included my retirement investments, cars, and vacations — all things we pay attention to, but don’t need to obsess over.  Watching my thoughts during meditation and understanding just a bit about the Second Noble Truth has helped me recognize when a basic necessity turns into craving,
When we recognize craving, what works for us is to label the obsessive thoughts, take a step back, and laugh at ourselves for falling victim once again.  A good question to ask ourselves is when do we live from one obsession to another, and when do we just live?

by Guān Shang and Guān Rén   10/7/13

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