af·flic·tion [uh-flik-shuhn] noun
1. a state of pain, distress, or grief; misery: They sympathized with us in our affliction.
2. a cause of mental or bodily pain, as sickness, loss, calamity, or persecution.
ad·dic·tion [uh-dik-shuhn] noun
the state of being enslaved to a habit or practice or to something that is psychologically or physically habit-forming, as narcotics, to such an extent that its cessation causes severe trauma.
I think that for most of us, we think of addictions as being chemical based, not like drugs or alcohol. But I am coming to see that we all are addicts in one way or another. And certainly most of us have an addiction to suffering without even being aware of it.
I remember a dear friend of many years ago, who used to say to me “you like a little dukkha, don’t you!”. I would always reply no, and ask why she said that to me.
And now, approximately thirteen years later, I see that I do in fact like a little dukkha (suffering/dissatisfaction) in my life.
Sounds crazy right? Why would anyone keep asking for difficulties and upset in their life?
Perhaps because I do have this affliction addiction, and have become so accustomed to disturbing thoughts and emotions that I easily find them in all things. And if none are to be found, it is so easy to create these mental formations (sankara) and stories that run away with me like a snowball headed for hell.
I see the Buddhist practice, the dhamma, as giving us all a path to liberation. Freedom from these afflictions and addictions by becoming more mindful and present. By understanding the First Noble Truth that there is suffering/dissatisfaction. And as long as any of us try to deny this reality, we will go on chasing shadows. Wishing for what was, what could be, what we want or “think” we need. And how very easily we can create story lines to accompany any of these unwholesome and unskilful thoughts. By lighting that wick, a small flicker of a flame can quickly become a towering inferno of unhappiness. All because we lack the practice and understanding needed to understand this life.
And by attempting to push away dissatisfaction, and grasping for your desires, you continue your own samsaric journey until awakening to the truth of this existence. No happy or sad, no good or bad, just this life as it truly is. In that reality is the peace and equanimity.
Again I find myself having gratitude for so many things. This life and these experiences, the opportunity to share what I am learning with you, the blessing of the Buddha and the dhamma, and the path that is available to each of us. And as I smile to myself right now, I accept that this too is impermanent and I’m grateful for this also.
May you be well, happy and peaceful.