An Excerpt from Jim Conrad's
NATURALIST NEWSLETTER
of January 2, 2011
Issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort adjoining Chichén Itzá Ruin in
YUCATÁN, MÉXICO

FINE-TUNING BUDDHA

Here lately the weather has been wonderful -- chilly mornings with warm, sunny, breezy afternoons overabounding with sunlight. As the dry season progresses the vegetation yellows, and there's an occasional swirl of leaves falling from trees. It's reminiscent of September up North.

I'm glad my life is uncomplicated enough for me to enjoy these days. Most folks I meet are hurrying, hurrying, hurrying, trying to see everything, do everything, or to make money.

My life is uncomplicated because for a long time I've made choices meant to keep my life simple. Largely this has meant deciding to do without things that other people feel they need. The moment one yields to the hungers for wealth, status or power, complications arise, I find, and pleasures of the simple life vanish.

Buddha taught the same long ago: To find peace and contentment, subdue your hungers.

Still, in recent years, I've been questioning the extent to which one's hungers should be subdued.

During my unsettled early years "finding peace" by quieting my hungers sounded like a good goal. Later, however, when I began thinking in terms of us living beings as "nerve endings of the Creator," I started doubting that "peace" and all the hunger subduing that implied was an appropriate ultimate goal. After all, the purest form of peace, as the Buddha would have agreed, is nonexistence. Yet the Universal Creative Impulse unambiguously brought us into existence, wired and programmed to feel many sensations, not just peacefulness. Surely the Creator is saying something by putting us here the way we are.

Still, I think that the Buddha got it right about the desirability of subduing one's hungers -- at least insofar as that simplification bestows time to enjoy beautiful things and to meditate on what's being experienced, good and bad.

But it seems to me that subduing hungers and simplifying life can go too far. Indulging no hungers at all implies an inactive, detached, apathetic existence completely inharmonious with the rest of the roiling, lustily evolving Universe.

As always, The Middle Path beckons. One just needs the wisdom, strength and luck to be able to recognize it, and embark on the Path when it stands before us. Facebook Icon.