The disease of wanting more

Since January of this year I have been using a new mantra:

Accept, accept, accept, enough, enough, enough, relax, relax, relax.

I have been contemplating the word “enough” which has its own Koan: BOS 77 ” Yangshan’s Enough.” In the Jewish tradition there is a special word — Dayenu, which means a certain action of God would have been enough to satisfy us, in and of itself. We don’t need anything more. This is gratitude for what we already have been given. So many miracles already bestowed.

It also connects to the 2nd Noble truth — craving and desire. Wanting more is the cause of our suffering. This “endless craving” is so important in Buddhism that there is even a realm of constant dissatisfaction and the feeling of never having enough — the realm of the hungry ghosts. I must admit I am in this realm quite often.

A hungry ghost is a being who cannot satisfy her or his hunger because their esophagus is too skinny. They are portrayed in Buddhist mythology as beings with enormous mouths, long skinny necks and bloated stomachs — the bloated stomach of a starving person.

In Thich Nhat Hanh’s book on the Lotus Sutra, “Peaceful Action, Open Heart”(pages 219-219), he talks about how to transform and heal our deep cravings. He surprised me lovingly by saying that the sangha is one of the ways hungry ghosts heal. A sangha provides a safe, calm, stable space that will allow people to get in touch with what is nourishing and healing. A healing environment means that there is a welcome invitation to come in. That people feel safe to open their hearts so that they can receive the spiritual nectar of the dharma, love, compassion, and understanding. A place where people can feel heard and where they can share their painful stories. Thich Nhat Hanh says, “The Buddha’s medicine is made of only two ingredients: Sangha and time.”

We can practice with healing and transformation. I am working on countering the hungry ghost realm in myself with the understanding and conscious ingestion of spiritual nectar. I try to help make a loving sangha and, the reverse, to allow the sangha to heal and love me. This mutual sweet nectar can go down any gullet! And at anytime! It has also been explained as the “temple of requited blessings” which is a conscious effort to dwell in the temple of our gratitude and lead our lives from that place. How could we not be grateful if we are connected to the Whole Mystery?