Saturday, May 9, 2020


This idea for an exercise came to me in this morning's meditation:

Imagine that you wake one morning as usual and go through your usual morning rituals. When you arrive at your breakfast, you find that a gift is awaiting you. It comes, perhaps, in an envelope, with a card, or in a beautifully wrapped envelope...

You open it. Inside is the one thing that you always needed, always longed for, but were never able to lay your hands on; the one thing that you know will make you happy. It's a "dream come true." It might be a precious object, a much-needed tool, a cashier's check for $10 million. It could be evidence for the fulfillment of an elusive goal--a book, perhaps, that you always wanted to write, now published in glorious hardback by a major publishing house.

Imagine how thrilled you are, how gratified, by this unexpected gift. At last you have what it is what you always wanted, the one thing that completes your life, that makes you happy.

Just then comes an imperious knocking at your front door. You go to open it and find two burly cops outside. They wear helmets, protective gear, reflective sunglasses. They carry night sticks and wear pistols on their hips. Perhaps they tote automatic rifles.

"We have information that you're in possession of stolen property," says the lead cop. He steps across your threshold threateningly. "We're here to reclaim it."

"But...," you protest, devastated, scared. "It was a gift."

"Not according to our information," says the cop. "You realize we could arrest you for this. You could face up to twenty years in jail."

Despite your protests, the two cops march into your house and seize the gift that only moments ago had brought you such unmitigated joy. The one thing that you thought you always needed, that your happiness depended on. They grab it from your breakfast table and march out the door with it and you are left alone.

Now how do you feel?

Okay, it's just a joke, just an exercise. But it helps me to understand what attachment is all about, and what impermanence feels like. It's pretty much about the experience of life. You're given it, and then it's taken away.

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