“The more we pursue sensual pleasures, the more we crave them and chase after distractions. Our dissatisfaction increases and creates mental stress and physical discomfort. Recognize how this happens, and learn to be content with a few necessities. You will be more carefree and joyful.”
HH the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa
Sometimes it feels to me as if I’m living in a glass house. This analogy might be used in different ways, but what I’m referring to here is the fact that, although we can perceive many different things, we cannot reach for all of them directly. We have our life right here, and there’s a big world out there. Especially with modern media and global communication, but also in our congested city environments; through advertisement and signs and signals of all sorts we are bombarded with much more information and influence than evolution could have built us for.
There are many ways we attempt to deal with our unusual situation. Some of us might take it lightly, feeling content to see beauty and interest around us and very grateful for that. Others might be easily distracted and feel overwhelmed by the profusion of images, and by the many reactions, desires, and confusions we might notice welling up inside.
Wherever we are on that spectrum, we have our habitual methods to deal with the situation; and these might be more or less effective, but they are the ones we have right now. Sometimes I notice that something has totally ‘got me’ and I don’t know how to respond in that moment, except with a look of confusion. Another time I might notice how I’m avoiding a certain challenge so as not to end up stuck in a corner.
The more I observe our cravings and reactions the better I understand the wisdom that lies within simplicity, commitments, and vows. There are positive and negative connotations around those words, but if I look to the truth and depth behind them I’m astonished at how helpful these can be. If we think that we can have anything we want or avoid anything we don’t want, we might be disappointed many times, because life shows up otherwise. If we are content with what is, if we live within clear and wise guidelines, it’s so much easier to be relaxed, open, and curious about what comes our way.
The more options we have the more decisions we have. Fewer options can mean that we face fewer crossroads. In the same way, if our simplicity allows us to be basically open and interested towards what the world and life brings us, there might be less disturbing reactivity showing up for us than if we have clear expectations for how things should be. I find it interesting that trusting the flow as it is within our chosen priorities can appear quite limited in some ways while quite liberating in others.
So “living in a glass house” can mean we are content where we are and can enjoy what we see outside. It can also mean that we crave what is outside and find it difficult to be content with what we actually find at home. In our mind we might constantly be running away from home towards all the enticing impressions outside. And that can be quite stressful and disconnecting.
Living content within the boundaries of our own lives can free us from that distress. We can discover the beauty and freedom that we actually have right where we are, with our open vision and the nourishing jewel of our heart. We might feel more and more gratitude and contentment with time and become truly able to enjoy our lives. This is not naturally given, but it can be a gradual development that we choose.
No matter where we are and what we do there might always be a better option somewhere else. But it will always be over there, rather than here where we are. Whereas the little contentment inside, small as it may be, might actually be the very best we could ever hope for. Especially as we notice it miraculously growing as we find ourselves enjoying inconsequential things.
If we have some real clarity about our priorities in life and a curious acceptance for the way they show up on our journey, then we have found important prerequisites for contentment and inner peace.
I wish that good conditions, contentment, and a bit of gratitude here and there are part of your inner reality.