The other day, Bhante was talking to me about cultural differences between Americans and Sri Lankans. He said how Americans look at everything as being about feelings, but this is not the case in Sri Lanka.
It really got me to thinking about how spoiled we are as a culture here in America.
And yes, I am very aware that we have many poor people and homeless people here in America. But overall, we are a nation of abundance and waste. As a Country, we actually generate more than 34 million tons of food waste each year. Yes, 34 MILLION TONS go in the garbage!
But lets also think about how many of have cell phones, iPhones, iPad’s, laptops, big screen TV’s, nice cars, and closets full of clothes we don’t even wear.
You see, we have so much in terms of material goods and abundance of food that we think everything is about our feelings. I feel hurt, angry, sad, upset, mad, happy, confused, frustrated, terrified.
But do you think that if we lived in a country where getting basic food and shelter for our Family was our main concern, that any of these feelings would be affecting us?
I highly doubt it. In many other countries, they live in reality. Not so spoiled and diluted by the irrational abundance that we have become so accustomed to here in this country.
And I really think that this plays a huge role in our suffering and samsara.
Feelings are not reality, they are simply mental constructs. And every-time that one arises we loose our presence and connection with reality. Try thinking about this next time you are on hold for customer service or something similar.
Think about when you ask someone “How are you doing?”. First of all, do you really care, or is this simply another habit? Secondly, what are you really asking them? Do you wonder about their physical health, financial situation, or mental attitude? Or are you really asking how they “feel” about their current life?
When you look at this question honestly, you will realize that it is a nonsensical question. There is no reason to ever ask someone how they are doing.
If you really care, simply be present. This is honest, open, loving, accepting and non-judgmental, but most importantly it is without expectation. There are no feelings involved in this, just equanimity (upekkha).
Now you might wonder about me including the word “love”, and argue that love is a feeling. Well I would have agreed with you previously, but now I have come to learn that it is not.
However, I will leave my thoughts about love for another day.
For now, I bid you peace. May you be well and happy.