Do Not Relax

There is nothing relaxing at all about Buddha’s teaching.  Buddha did not want you to relax.  Anything but.

These days there is a lot of talk of meditation for relaxation.  Well, that is nice, and it is lovely for people to relax – they need to due to the inherent stress of samsara.  But, if you meditate to relax it has nothing whatsoever to do with Buddha’s teachings or the deep of the spiritual path.  Frankly, you are better off going to the spa, or a baseball game, or having sex, or playing backgammon, seeing a movie.  You will get more bang for your buck in almost any of these.  If you understand the first noble truth then you will feel deep dissatisfaction and this dissatisfaction will not allow you to relax.  Frankly, you don’t need to.  It is not stress that makes you unhealthy, it is meaningless stress.  Many people how feel connected to a great cause will work tirelessly to accomplish it; day and night, lose sleep, eat poorly under stress, and yet they are radiant and, in a relative sense, happier than most.  Why?  Because it is not stress but meaninglessness that crushes the human being in spirit.

Buddha said he was like a man who is walking down the street and sees a house on fire.  Inside the house he knows there is a family fast asleep.  They are about to die in their sleep.  Buddha begins to shout and bang on the door to wake them up.  He does not want them to wake up to their condition and then chill out, relax, try to sooth themselves. He wants them to wake up and experience the dread, what Gurdjieff called “the terror of the situation.”  They wake up, they smell smoke, they feel the heat, they realize their house is on fire and their children are in immediate danger of dying a horrible death as they are. This is not a relaxing situation.  They work to do whatever they can to escape.

The night Buddha left home and family to engage the spiritual quest he stood in the doorway of his wife’s room looking at her and his new born baby asleep. He loved them deeply, profoundly. He was not able to abandon them because he did not care for them, but because he loved them so much, and he realized they would experience sickness, old age, death, alienation, and all the sufferings that all human beings experience. He felt deep in the intuition of his human maturity that there was another option. He could not be satisfied with any shallow consolation sold by society or experience – even those of a prince.  Imagine how he must have felt knowing his wife and child would feel abandoned. Yes, he expected to return with the teachings that bring an end to suffering – if he was right, but in the meantime they would feel hurt, abandoned, angry, betrayed. Standing there he must have been anything but relaxed. True spiritual aspirants are able to take into themselves the great turmoils of the human existential condition, they become an alchemical cauldron which can cook the stresses, tensions, facts of human experience. The All Good Mother whispers in our ear and her whisper causes the great dissatisfaction that can not be quenched by anything in samsara.  – t.k. (Traktung Yeshe Dorje), Original Innocence

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