Saturday, November 21, 2020


Here we are, November 21st and I have been silent on The Buddha Diaries for more than a week. My mind has been preoccupied with the completion of a quite different piece of writing that I got engaged in. Now that it's completed, I'm feeling a sense of release and relief. 

I have also neglected the political observations that I've taken to posting on Facebook. I was brought up with a social and political conscience that will not permit me to ignore what's going in on the country and the world a time of political upheaval complicated by the ravages of a deadly pandemic. I consider myself fortunate to have my meditation practice to help me through these deeply troubled times. It continues to provide me with at least a spiritual and emotional refuge when they are most needed. I can't say that it frees me completely from the feelings of anxiety, grief and anger that beset most of us these days, but it does help me to maintain something of an even keel.

This morning's meditation found my attention focused on my hands. Our hands, I realized, function in two notable ways to cause us suffering: they grasp and cling. I decided to give my attention to each of those functions separately, to see where that might lead me--and possibly to share the results of my investigation with the neighborhood group that joins me for a sit each Wednesday.

First, then, grasping. This action is motivated by need, or imagined need. If I rest quietly in attention to the hands, I can feel it there; and if I'm able to identify it, I can perhaps succeed in letting go of it. 

There are many questions I can ask myself:

What is it that I need, or think I need? Love, attention, even adulation? Success? Recognition? Money? Food, drink, sex? With so many potential needs, it's perhaps sensible to concentrate on just one of them. If I pick only what appears to be the most pressing of them I can ask:

Whatever it is, do I really need it? Will it change my life in any significant way if I succeed in getting it?

Will it assure an increase in my happiness if I get it?

Will I be satisfied with what I get of it, or will I still need more? Will I ever have enough of it?

If I get it, will it prove harmful to myself, or others? Will my getting it deprive others of what they need? Are their needs greater than my own?

Any one of these questions would in itself deserve the full length of a meditation. That would be one way to approach the challenge, the long way: to sit in contemplation of each question in turn in a succession of meditative sessions. Another way to deal with it, however, would be simply to have all the questions in mind and to sit without asking them, to leave them tucked away in the back of my mind as I rest in attention to the actual, physical grasping hands and make the conscious effort to let them slip away through the fingertips. 

So that's the intention that came to me this morning as I sat. I have often paused to rest in attention to the hands in the past, observing the tightness in them and the tension that I hold there, so I think it's something worth paying more attention to, working with the hands slowly, day by day, experimenting in greater depth to see where that might lead me.  . 

It would be one way, perhaps, to address the hungry ghosts!


Marie Smith said...

For me, leaving the questions in the back of my mind would work best. Time from the world of consideration of anything would be welcome.

Peter Clothier said...


Dr Michelle Frantom (aka Dr Grafix aka Munted Doll) said...

Perhaps both ways of dealing with the grasping are useful at different times. We do need to operate in a consensually realised world so sorting through the questions might help deal with some of the practical aspects of that. Equally just letting the questions 'be' is a nice respite from the world.