Be Content in Body and Mind

Lessen desire and be without any wishes and the body and mind will be at ease.

When our desires are balanced and reasonable, we can be content. The Buddha taught that deep wisdom can be found only by following a “middle way” between dualistic extremes. The middle way can always be found by contemplating which side of a dualistic pair is contending for our attention. If we discover that we are becoming attached to money, we can find a healthy balance again by practicing giving, and reflecting on the fact that money is valuable only when it helps people, never when it harms them. If we find ourselves becoming attached to something that makes us angry or resentful, we can find a healthy balance by emphasizing compassion.

When we have lessen desires we will be happier because our lives will be easier to manage and we will have more time to consider that which is most important. Honest introspection always leads to the truth. If our introspection leads us to discover many harmful attachments within us, then we must take steps to understand their origins, as we look for ways to balance their deleterious influences. If it leads us to discover inklings of the enlightened Buddha mind within us, then we must encourage these inklings and cause them to grow and become more frequent. There is no better way to counteract the imbalances of samsara than to bathe them in the enlightened wisdom of the Buddha that already lies within us.

Contentment cures greed, compassion cures anger, and wisdom cures the confusion of many desires arising. When we know how to be satisfied with what we have, we can be happy anywhere and we will always be able to avoid more desire and the terrible passions it releases.

The Surangama Sutra says,

“Wise contentment defeats the maras of the mind.”

The Commentary on the Lotus Sutra says,

“Truth is like the sky, meditation like a great cloud, wisdom like the rain.”

Like the rain because it washes us and cleans us of our harmful desires. The Sutra of Supreme Mindfulness says, “Have few desires, be content, and put to rest all harmful clinging. Free yourself from your attachments, for when you taste greed you are like a fish that swallows a hook.”

The following story reminds us that the Buddha can help us only if we are deeply receptive and willing to help ourselves. Once there was a man who was walking on a mountain road. As the dusty miles passed, he became tired and inattentive, and consequently lost his footing and fell down a steep precipice. As he fell, he managed to reach out and grab hold of a tree branch growing out of the cliff. Clutching the branch for dear life, he looked up and down. Far below him were the hard rocks at the bottom of the cliff, while above him there was only the sheer face of the cliff. As far as he could tell there was no way he could save himself. Then he saw the Buddha standing on the road above him. The Buddha was gazing on him with a look of great concern.

The man called out, “Oh Buddha, save me! Save me!”

The Buddha replied, “I will save you, but you must do as I say.”

The man cried, “Anything, anything! I will do anything you say!”

“Let go of the branch,” the Buddha said.

The man looked down at the rocks at the bottom of the cliff and thought that if he let go of the branch he would surely fall and be killed. His fears made him grab the branch more tightly.

When the Buddha saw that he was not going to let go, he said, “How can I save you if you don’t let go?” And with that he turned and left.

From The Great Realizations, written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun.

Image from Pixabay.

More Featured Articles

The Buddhist precepts are here to protect us from wrongdoing, lead us away from what is bad, and towards what is good. Vinaya Master Daoxuan of the Tang dynasty composed the Simplified and Amended Handbook of the Four-Part Vinaya [Sifenlü Shanfan Buque Xingshi Chao], in which he analyzed the precepts Read more
In the Buddha's teachings, there are four kinds of friends: friends who treat you like a flower, friends who act like a balance, friends who are like the mountains, and friends who are like the earth.Friends who treat you like a flowerWe all enjoy flowers, especially when they are fresh. Read more
At the many places I engaged in practice and study—at places such as Qixia in Nanjing, Jinshan and Jiaoshan in Zhenjiang, and Tianning in Changzhou, where I was brought up experiencing spring breezes, summer rains, autumn frosts, and winter snows—I studied silently and grew up quietly. I was always thinking as to how Read more
Though the worlds that we see are fundamentally a product of our own minds, they usually do not appear this way to us. Like images in an intense dream, our perceptions appear to be wholly real to us, and not to have been generated by our own mental activity. For Read more
Though sitting meditation was given to us from the ancient past it is a way for modern people to lead happy lives. Sitting meditation allows us to dispel the pressures of daily life that come from the mind’s confusion and a mistaken understanding of phenomena. Practicing sitting meditation quiets the Read more
Being patient is an art, and being persistent is a kind of hope. Influenced by today’s instant culture, modern people tend to expect instant results in anything they do. Practitioners want to have attainment in this life, scholars want to become instant laureates in their fields, and entrepreneurs want to Read more
We should always try to see the good in others, not the bad. On the samsaric level of this saha world alone, back-biting and faultfinding are known by most people to be totally counter-productive. Not only does faultfinding produce nothing but anger and mistrust, but the effects of negative speech Read more
All my life, many have thought of me as rich, but the truth is, staying poor has always been my motto. I grew up in a poverty-stricken family, yet I never saw myself as poor, because I always felt rich in heart. Till my old age, many have thought of Read more
One of the biggest weaknesses in today’s society is that we have developed the habit of not saying we are sorry. Once we grow up and rise in status and knowledge, apologizing becomes harder and harder. But human beings are not perfect sages and we all make mistakes. Being able Read more
Why should people create Buddha images? Did the Buddha really want everyone to make images of him and worship his body?In truth, the purpose of creating the Buddha images is not to create symbols for worship. Buddha images are reminders that “the mind is the Buddha,” and that everyone has Read more
Birth and death are realities of life. Regardless of who we are, we cannot escape either one. While birth is celebrated, death is feared by most. In order to cope with our fear, we often seek comfort in religion. Although each of the world's major religious traditions has its own teaching Read more
Love and affection are infinitely valuable. There are various levels of love and affection that we can aspire to. Some people describe how people love this way: Young people love with their words, middle-aged people love with their actions, and elder people love with their hearts.  Read more