In evaluating my life, especially in the context of all the buddhist dharma talks I listen to every week, it seemed it might be fitting to take a look at how the 2nd Noble Truth plays out in my life.
To that end, I’ve compiled a short list of some of the cravings and desires that are currently causing me suffering.
Freedom and Time
There’s so much that I want to do with my life, and the time and opportunities always seem limited. I find myself struggling to accept that I simply don’t have the freedom or the time to do all that I want to do.
Approval and Respect
This one is particularly pernicious—half the time I don’t recognize it driving me, or realize when I’m ardently seeking it. I’m afraid that the things I accomplish won’t be seen as worthwhile or good, and that no one will respect even the efforts that I’ve made to complete them. This isn’t so much about personal approval or respect, but rather approval and respect of what I do, or of what I’ve made or created.
Motivation and Energy
We all have bad days, I believe, but when I have a string of bad days where I can’t dislodge myself from the couch, or tear myself from the distractions in my life, I berate myself for my lack of motivation. When I’m too tired to take advantage of what fleeting motivation I may have, I chastise myself for my inappropriate, unhealthy sleep habits.
Talent and Ability
More damning than my need for Approval and Respect is the fear that I completely lack any talent or ability in the things that I want to do. I’m afraid that even I won’t like or appreciate what I accomplish, because I will only see where I’ve failed, or will only discern my distinct lack of talent.
Vision and Imagination
I also worry that, even if I find the motivation and energy, and even if I posses the talent and ability to do what I want to do, I’ll never have the vision to accomplish anything truly worthwhile. I worry that my ideas and imagination will be so limited in breadth and depth that the things I accomplish will be completely uninteresting and unexciting.
These few things are only a fraction of my afflictions, and tomorrow may find me beset by an entirely different set of demons. In the meantime, my hope is that, by identifying and naming them, I may loosen their grip on me.
If you’ve had success wrestling the causes of your own suffering, I hope you’ll share a bit of your story in the comments.