بدست آوردن چیزی که واقعاً می خواهیمکتاب: هنر قدرت / فصل 6
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CHAPTER FOUR - Getting What We Really Want
With the practice of mindfulness and the mindfulness trainings, the motivation behind our desire for power becomes clear. When we are clear about our motivations, our actions are much more powerful because we can do them with one hundred percent of our intention.
Volition is the driving motivation behind our thinking, speech, and actions. It determines everything.
Every one of us has a strong goal for our life. We want to achieve something. We feel a ball of energy in us, a tremendous, powerful source of energy. We want to feel truly alive.
We search for this feeling in different ways. There are people who are ready to die for a cause. They want national independence, they want social justice, they want to overthrow a dictatorial regime, and they’re ready to sacrifice their lives for it. Their desire givesthem the energy and strength needed for their activities.
There are people motivated by the desire to protect the environment. They’re willing to undergo any kind of hardship to protect the earth. There are those who want to get off the spiral of escalating consumption. They want to live a simple life to have more time and energy to serve living beings.
There are also people whose motivating desire is not so wholesome. They live only to accumulate wealth, influence, and recognition. They want to be admired and envied by others, drive fancy cars, have famous and attractive lovers, and live in luxurious houses. Then there are people whose strongest desire is to punish those they believe have caused them a lot of suffering.
They live only for revenge. They focus their whole lives around the desire to attack, destroy, punish, and cause suffering to the people they think made them suffer.
They’re ready to blow up an airplane or force their way into an embassy carrying a bomb, losing their own lives in the explosion, just because they want revenge. They consider themselves victims of injustice, and they want to inflict sorrow and pain on other groups or other nations. This kind of motivation is the foundation oftheir lives and the basis of their actions. These people have given up on happiness, because if your motivation is to punish someone else or to run after fame, glory, and power, you are going to suffer a lot.
To illustrate the tragic power of our volition, the Buddha used the example of a young man who’s being dragged toward a pit of fire by two strong men. The man wants to live; he’s being dragged against his will.
But the two men are stronger than he is, and they intend to throw him into the pit of fire. He doesn’t want to die, but he can’t resist. The Buddha asked, “Who are these two strong men who try to bring you to the realm of hell? They are your volition, your desire to run after what you believe to be happiness, namely the objects of your craving: craving for fame, craving for power, craving for sex, craving for wealth.”
Before Siddhartha became the historical Buddha, he undertook six years of practice to become a free person, enlightened and emancipated. He had witnessed much suffering in his family, his society, and his country. He left his family and his position as a prince in his father’s kingdom, but he was motivated by love, not by a desire to run away from his responsibilities. Siddharthawanted to uproot the suffering in himself in order to offer others a way out. This was his deepest desire, and it brought him tremendous happiness. It gave him the courage and strength to go through many hardships.
We call this desire, this volition, bodhicitta.
Bodhicitta is the mind of love, the mind of enlightenment. It can also be translated as the “mind of understanding,” because understanding is the foundation of love. If you don’t understand, it is not possible for you to accept and to love. If you don’t understand your father, you cannot really love him. If you don’t understand your daughter, you cannot love her.
Understanding is love and love is understanding. And if you have the desire to attain this understanding, you have the beginner’s mind, the most powerful kind of energy there is. With this energy you will never give up, because you are seeking happiness, for yourself and for others.
So all of us must look deeply into our desire. What’s our true motivation? We know that business is for making money, but we have to understand what goes along with the profit we’re making. Are we causing suffering, despair, or injustice in the process of making aprofit? Earning money is just one part of the picture.
The way we use money is also important. Money can be used to promote well-being. With money we can buy medicine and save someone’s life. With money we can provide food for people who are hungry. But with money we can also destroy our own lives and the lives of others. We have to look deeply to see whether money is the only element that can bring happiness.
What’s the motivating desire of people working in business, politics, the entertainment industry, sports, or science? Is it more power, more fame, more wealth? We may think that these things are only means for us to be more effective. But they will not, by themselves, help us be happy or help others. We may be misguided by our sense of pride and responsibility. We may be fooling ourselves. It’s important to look deeply into our deepest desire to see its true nature. If you suffer and make your loved ones suffer, there is nothing that can justify your desire.
You may never have had a chance to practice looking into your intentions, but if you do, you will discover your deepest motivations. We have to identify the source that motivates our actions every day. Awholesome motivation will bring us well-being; it can bring happiness to us and many other people. An unwholesome motivation will bring suffering to us, our family, and many people in society.
We can distinguish our compassionate ideals from our unwholesome desires and cravings. These two things are very different, but sometimes we mistake our craving and desire for noble ideals. We often try to fool ourselves to feel more peaceful. Greed is based on ignorance. We have misperceptions. We think that if we can obtain certain things, we’ll be happy. But when we get them, we continue to crave and suffer.
The Buddha used the image of the bait and hook to illustrate this. You see the bait and you think it will give you a lot of pleasure, a lot of happiness. But when you bite it, the hook gets you. These days people use lures, artificial bait, when they go fishing. The bait is not a real insect anymore but is made of plastic. It’s very appealing. When the fish sees the bait, he bites the lure, because he doesn’t know there’s a hook inside. When the fish bites, he gets hooked and is pulled out of the water.
We’re just like the fish that gets hooked. What’s appealing to you? You’re tempted, you want it, so you bite it, even though you know that it will get you. Fame, sex, power, and wealth are the four kinds of bait that have a hook. If you’re motivated by any of these desires, your destiny is suffering. When you’re wealthy, you feel powerful and important. There are so many favorable conditions encouraging you to indulge in this kind of consumption. But you can destroy yourself, your family, and even your company, and this destruction often contributes to damaging the environment and society in general.
Is our strong desire to serve our loved ones, to serve ourselves, other living beings, and our planet, or is it to strive after lures that are empty of real nourishment?
We may deceive ourselves into thinking that our concern with wealth, power, and fame is really only a means for us to be more effective in bringing happiness to others, providing jobs, or helping the environment.
But we may be misguided by our pride and sense of responsibility. We shouldn’t fool ourselves. We have to be really honest and practice deeply to discover the true nature of our desire and motivation. It’s important to distinguish between the indulgence of craving and true happiness. Happiness exists in many forms, but true happiness doesn’t come from the four objects of craving: sex, power, fame, and wealth.
The Buddha described a dog who, when thrown a bare bone, runs after it and chews on it even though there’s no meat on the bone. He doesn’t get any nutrition from the bone, yet he hangs on to it and won’t let go. Our attitude is just like that. Cravings can never bring satisfaction, yet we keep on running after them.
The Buddha also cited the example of holding a torch against the wind: the torch will burn your fingers.
Sensual desire is like that—it burns you. It doesn’t give you true happiness; it burns you and in fact can destroy you.
The Buddha gave another example. You’re thirsty and you go into an apparently empty house. You see a bottle of water. You’re very thirsty and you want a drink. But just as you bring the bottle to your lips, someone appears and says, “Don’t drink this water, it has poison in it.” But since you’re so thirsty, you drink it anyway. Our desire for the four cravings can be like that.
Sometimes your intellect tells you that it’s dangerous to embrace this or that object of desire. You know that you’ll suffer, but you can’t resist and you do it anyway. Without a wise friend, without a spiritual community that can protect and help you, you often do such things in spite of your better judgment.
We crave something because we don’t see the true nature of the object of our craving. Don’t despise money, sex, power, and fame: just look deeply to see how running after things like these has brought you a lot of suffering and little satisfaction. These cravings are like saltwater: the more you drink, the thirstier you become. We keep running after money, believing that when (and only when) we have a certain amount of money, we will be happy. Then that day comes and we have that amount of money, but it’s not enough because we always want to have more.
Indulging our cravings can kill us. The Buddha used a final example of a small bird that has stolen a piece of meat from a butcher. The bird flies up in the sky, and suddenly a bigger bird comes along and tries to take the piece of meat. The little bird doesn’t let go. If the little bird doesn’t release the piece of meat, the big bird will kill her to get the piece of meat. The little bird knows this on some level, but she still cannot bring herself to let it go.
In fact the thing we are running after is just a delusion, and with mindfulness, we can see that it is not worth it. We can explore deeply the nature of that object of craving—let’s say it’s money—and then we will see that money is not something we need to crave.
We need some for basic use, but not much. When you see deeply the true nature of the object of your craving, you will be healed from your running and able to finally feel free.
Deep in every one of us there is a desire to be continued, a desire for procreation. Monks and nuns also have this desire to procreate, to be continued. But it is possible for them to fulfill this desire spiritually.
They can have spiritual children and grandchildren.
They can completely satisfy their desires without suppressing themselves. Fulfillment through sublimation is possible with practice.
Love in a couple relationship has to do with this desire to be continued. This doesn’t mean that procreation is the only valid reason for a sexual relationship. When you love, you need to express yourself. Sexual expression is one way you demonstrate your love. But I would like to tell you that it is not the only way. If you think it is the only way, you are wrong. There are many ways of expressing our love other than sexually. We can still be happy together. If you don’t see things clearly and you think sex is the only way to express your love, you can become obsessed with sex. When a mother holds her child, there’s a lot of love in her. When a father speaks to his son on the telephone, he can express his love deeply.
The question is how to express your love and preserve happiness. If you don’t respect the other person’s body, this is not love. If the sexual act does not include respect, gentleness, compassion, and loving kindness, I wouldn’t say it is a true expression of love.
It is an expression of craving, violence, and disrespect.
So it should be made clear that in sexual expression, true love should exist; otherwise you are creating suffering for yourself and the other person. A genuine expression of love should include the desire to offer happiness, remove suffering, and remove separation. This is why sex can be deeply spiritual. It can be a very beautiful act.When the element of disrespect is there, love is destroyed. You have to ask yourself whether the sexual act is creating suffering or not. Sometimes your partner is not in the mood to make love. If you force him, there is no respect, no love. It’s like inviting someone for tea.
If the person is so busy, doesn’t have the time, or doesn’t like tea, and you force her to sit down and have tea with you, you are not a true friend; you are not being truly loving. Respect is the first ingredient of true love. Not only for mind and spirit, but for the body.
You treat her body gently and with a lot of respect, because we are made of body and mind together. In Plum Village, every time we offer massage to a person, we join our palms and breathe first. We should have complete respect before we touch the other person’s body. If you are motivated by craving, sex can be destructive. If you create jealousy, anger, or frustration, you know it is not true love. So it is possible for us to express our love through sexual intimacy, but we should remember that it must be a real expression of true love, not craving. And second, we should remember that sexual expression is not the only way to express our love.We know it’s dangerous to run after objects of craving. Happiness is possible, but not through indulging desire and sensual pleasure. Real happiness is found in the knowledge that ignorance is the ground of all desire. If you know exactly what the danger is and what suffering it will bring, then that desire will die down. You know that if you get AIDS, you will suffer and you may well die. If you understand that clearly, you’ll be very careful to protect yourself from contractingAIDS. Thus understanding is the foundation of correct behavior, and ignorance is its opposite.
Right or wrong action can be determined by using the single criterion of suffering or nonsuffering. Whatever causes suffering in the present or the future, for ourselves and people around us, is the wrong thing to do. What brings well-being in the present and the future is the right thing. The criterion is clear.
To put it another way, what comes from mindfulness, concentration, and insight is right, and what goes against mindfulness, concentration, and insight is wrong. Suffering and happiness are a complementary pair we can use to see our situation more clearly. If you use these two yardsticks, you’ll know what’s wrong and what’s right, what is to be done and what shouldn’t be done.
This is why, to be happy, to be a real bodhisattva, we need to take some time each day to sit down, look into ourselves, and identify the kind of energy that’s motivating us and where it is pushing us. Are we being pushed in the direction of suffering and despair? If so, we must release this intention and find a more wholesome source of energy. Our volition should be bodhicitta, the mind of love, the intention to love and serve.
There are seeds of awakening and compassion in each of us. In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is someone who is awake, mindful, and motivated by a desire to help others wake up, be mindful, and be happy. Your purpose is to wake up to the reality of suffering and its causes, to wake up to the possibility of happiness. The path of understanding and compassion is the path to happiness.
If you don’t have this strong desire to help people, to liberate, to bring awakening and joy, you can’t be called a bodhisattva and you don’t have a path to follow. But with mindfulness and awareness of our intention, we can all quickly and easily become bodhisattvas, awakened beings committed to the protection of all beings. If you have in you a lot of compassion and a lot of insight and awakening, you can act as a bodhisattva in the form of a businessperson, an athlete, a scientist, a politician, an entertainer, or a parent. The bodhisattva practices the art of living happily in the here and now and shows up in many guises. You don’t have to wear a monk’s robe. You don’t have to have achieved enlightenment or have a certain income. You don’t have to have achieved anything. You can wear a suit and tie or a pair of jeans and still carry a bodhisattva’s joy, happiness, and freedom. And when you have a lot of joy, happiness, and freedom, you can share it with other living beings.
A bodhisattva may have blocks of fear, suffering, and pain within her, so she returns to herself to recognize the blocks of suffering and fear, embrace them, and transform them into compassion, love, understanding, and solidity. The bodhisattva has the ability to go back to himself to take care of his body and consciousness.
Pain is an inevitable part of life, but happiness is possible. This is the summation of the Buddha’s FourNoble Truths. These truths are equally applicable to businesspeople, monastics, and everyone in between.
The First Noble Truth is that suffering exists. The Second Noble Truth is that suffering has causes. The Third Noble Truth is that happiness is possible. The Fourth Noble Truth is that there is a path that leads to happiness. We have to distinguish between the first truth and the third one. The first is called dukkha in Sanskrit, suffering. The third is called sukha, happiness.
They are quite different. Very often, we mistake our desire or craving for happiness.
We don’t need to be afraid of suffering; we can confront it. If you try to run away from it, you will never have a chance to transform it. The Buddha taught that we should look at suffering in terms of nutriments.
You have consumed in a way that has brought about suffering. He said, “What has come to be—namely illbeing—if you can look deeply into its nature and identify its source of nutriments, you are already on the path of emancipation.”
All of us who want to be bodhisattvas will have to do the same. We have to go back to ourselves, take good care of ourselves, and recognize the suffering inourselves in order to embrace and transform it. You have to make time for yourself and be there for yourself. Then you will be able to be there for your family and your company, your constituents, your school, and your community.
If you are an artist or a teacher, a parent or a politician, you have the ability to be a bodhisattva and awaken many people at once. When you are motivated by this big desire, you have so much joy and energy that fame and power no longer attract you. You become active, day and night, helping people touch their seeds of joy, peace, and happiness, helping them understand and transform their seeds of discrimination, fear, and craving. Fame, political power, and financial success can’t be compared with the joy of knowing that your life on earth is beautiful and helpful. You are a bodhisattva manifesting in the here and now.
Whatever your business, if your true intention is to be a bodhisattva at your work, then you are being a buddha, even if you do not call yourself one. This is what Anathapindika did as a bodhisattva businessman . This is something anyone in any profession can do: be truly present, fully alive with a compassionate heart.With the support of a community, this practice can bring transformation, healing, joy, and happiness. You and your family become one entity. You are participating in the work of promoting awakening and transformation. It’s a wonderful path.
Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, and we look to the past or the future for our happiness.
We know that the bottom line of business is profit.
But to profit means “to benefit from.” There are many ways one can benefit from being a bodhisattva. If our work brings about well-being, there’s nothing wrong with making money. It’s possible to make money in a way that is not destructive, that promotes more social justice and more understanding and lessens the suffering that exists all around us. To do this, we need to be free from the pursuit of power, wealth, fame, and sex. These four go together. If you don’t practice mindfulness, you’ll be the victim of these four lures. Looking deeply, we see that it’s possible to work in the corporate world in a way that brings a lot of happiness, both to other people and to us. When we’re doing something for the benefit of all humankind and the environment, our work has meaning. Even if it’s also making money, it has meaning, because it can bring well-being to the world.
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