The Next Buddha is Sangha

In the spirit of sangha and lovingkindness, Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia offers this week’s reflections for the NYI community.

Beyond To-ing and Fro-ing

Tanhā is the movement of the mind that keeps taking exception to what is—wanting things to be another way (bhava tanhā), not wanting them to be the way they are (vibhava tanhā), or just being preoccupied with sensory experience (kāma tanhā). Tanhā is a restless agitation—”relishing now here and now there,” as the Buddha put it—that makes it impossible to be content with things as they are.

Fortunately, we are practicing with the four satipatthānas. Over the months and years of practice and the increasing capacity for non-attachment that this brings, we are slowly training the mind to override the deeply entrenched habits of craving and ignorance. Instead of being caught up in the to-ing and fro-ing of the unawakened mind, we are finding a place of peace in the presence of it. This represents a radical shift in the way we relate to experience. Whether we realize it or not, by working with the four satipatthānas, we are developing an openhearted acceptance of things as they are, a simple contentment with what is.

This kind of openhearted acceptance doesn’t develop overnight. We seem to have to go through an often-painful process of seeing for ourselves that longing and resisting don’t bring about the desired results. In fact, they only serve to lock us into the behaviors that we are trying to overcome.

Ajahn Chah said: “Practice to the point where you can’t go forward, you can’t go back and you can’t stand still. Then you will understand what it means to transcend suffering.”

With metta,
Gloria Taraniya Ambrosia

Gloria Taraniya is a Lay Buddhist Minister in association with Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery in CA. She is a Core Faculty member at Barre Center for Buddhist Studies and served as Insight Meditation Society Resident Teacher for many years.