We are amazing creatures. Our essence is truly good. Not a dualistic good, but inherently so. Years ago, I realized I had been mistaken my entire life. I had to do something about it. This is that something. It takes much concerted effort to change our lives, but once we choose to do so and continue making that choice with every breath and every step that we take, that is the essence of transformation. There are countless opportunities every day, and we are blessed to be in this together.
Monday, January 4, 2016
The Joy in Virtue: Waking Up from Laziness
Laziness in Buddhism is unique. It is loosely defined regarding a mind that finds no joy in virtue. This may seem an extremely confusing way to approach the concept of laziness. However, in my exploration of the Buddhist approach to laziness, I found some astounding corollaries to modern life.
Buddhism identifies three specific types of laziness: indolence, unwholesome actions, and self-deprecation & defeatism. (The Nectar of Manjushri’s Speech, Pelden)
Being indolent is to have a disposition avoiding exertion, causing little pain or to avoid pain by remaining inactive.
Indolence is a very curious form of laziness. In modern culture, we have depression. One of the symptoms of depression is staying in bed, hence remaining physically inactive. It could be seen here that the pain and suffering of staying in bed and the isolation that comes from depression is far less than the perceived pain and suffering of leaving that bed. It certainly is worthy of further exploration.
However, indolence here is not necessarily regarding physical exertion, which are limited. There are infinite ways we avoid exertion mentally and emotionally. We often don’t consider . . . anything. We hardly ever consider . . . nothing. That’s the laziness referred to here.
It’s actually possible to have so much joy from even the most mundane of human activities. In fact, it is through these daily activities that we should strive to experience joy every single day. Our lives don’t have to be some grand love affair or adventure on the big screen to have joy in every day.
Imagine waking up and finding joy in what you can do today.
Many Westerners immediately misconstrue Buddhist terms like ‘unwholesome actions.’ Gossamer covers the minds when some hear these terms, thinking they can never live up to some expectation of always being perfect people. This is simply not the intention.
However, intentions are crucial in all that we do, and that is what is meant by unwholesome actions with regard to laziness. What are we really after with our actions today? Tonight? When we rise in the morning? Knowing what the intent behind every action sounds exhausting, but it can be liberating and exhilarating.
Imagine the freedom and the joy in making every action you take matter to you.
Self-deprecation & defeatism
Here, the defeatist attitude is becoming immune to the pains and sufferings of self and others. If we examine this closely, this ultimately becomes a conversation about greater awareness and emotional openness.
In our modern society, some focus so much on their own pain that it eclipses the suffering of others, even their loved ones staring them in the face or striving to help alleviate it. Others, avoid feeling and experiencing their own suffering, obscuring it through acts of kindness, hostility, or ambivalence. Both methods block awareness and create barriers between all of us.
Imagine letting go of being perfect. Allowing yourself to not have to hold it all together and demanding the same of others. Imagine making a human connection with every person, first yourself. You deserve it. You need it.
Laziness is not something to look down on yourself about. It certainly isn’t something we should look down on others about. It is only part of our human condition. What is wonderful and beautiful about this human condition is that we can break out of this laziness and experience the joys of the virtue of being here and now. We don’t have to be perfect because we are not. But, we can wake up to joy with every breath we take.