This is where I am now, trying to learn, like the Apostle Paul, to be content. “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Philippians 4:12, NIV).
My discontent comes out as anger. “He ate way more than his share of the cashews!” “My computer is taking too long to shut down!” “My side of the mattress is wet from the rain!” Complain, complain, complain. How about, “These cashews are delicious! I am glad he is healthy, strong and well-fed!” “My computer is working!” “How good it is to be home!”
The emotion of discontent starts way before the words do. The way to defeat discontent before the mouth opens and lets out something ugly, is to stop and meditate.
According to Gautama Buddha, the cause of suffering is craving. If I was not so attached to what I want, I could graciously accept what is.
Something unwanted happens, and one generates a sankhāra [impurity in the subconscious mind] of aversion. As the sankhāra arises in the mind, it is accompanied by an unpleasant physical sensation. Next moment, because of the old habit of reaction, one again generates aversion, which is actually directed towards the unpleasant bodily sensation. The external stimulus of the anger is secondary; the reaction is in fact to the sensation within oneself. The unpleasant sensation causes one to react with aversion, which generates another unpleasant sensation, which again causes one to react. In this way, the process of multiplication begins. If one does not react to the sensation but instead smiles. and understands its impermanent nature, then one does not generate a new sankhāra, and the sankhāra that has already arisen will pass away without multiplying. Next moment, another sankhāra of the same type will arise from the depths of the mind; one remains equanimous, and it will pass away. Next moment another arises; one remains equanimous, and it passes away. The process of eradication has started. S. N. Goenka, The Discourse Summaries, The Eighth Day.
Work hard all morning, then collapse into a comfortable chair with a homemade kombucha probiotic drink aged to perfection. Life doesn’t get much better than that. I am content! I still had to remind myself a few times during the work period not to be discontented.
I was trying to empty a 50 gallon drum that was about half full of water into a 1500 gallon storage tank. Nothing I tried worked. I tried a hand pump, but couldn’t get it to operate. Then I tried to set up a syphon by pouring water in a hose and bringing one end of the house downhill and letting it empty into a bucket. That didn’t start the syphon. So I gave that up and found another container I could use for the water that had collapsed the roof over our kitchen tent. We are living remote, have no water service, not even a working well, and so we want to store all the water we manage to collect. We just had a wonderful storm. But who knows when or if we will get another? So I found a 30 gallon trash can that only had a few things in it (storage items, not trash). I found another place for the things. The trash can held most of the water that had collected in a couple places in the tarp that had collapsed over our kitchen area, which I bailed with a bowl into a bucket then poured it into the trash can. Then I was able to access a few things, like my kombucha kit, and some stored rice and millet, to move to the area where our kitchen activities were moved to.
That discontent still comes up when the curser jumps around the page, and I find myself inputting in the middle of a word a line or two up from where I intended. These phones that also do word processing are really amazing! But sometimes all I can see are the little glitches.
O Son of Being! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds. Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words, Arabic, Number 31
I realize there are times when I steal energy from another due to my having a bad attitude, and I need to give it back.
My second daughter handed me a copy of The Celestine Prophecy, when she was 16 years old. I read, in allegorical form, about the four ways people steal energy from each other. The author, James Redfield, also predicted that, as more people start noticing the coincidences in their lives, we will eventually reach a critical mass of aware people. And when that happens the world will evolve very rapidly into the place we want it to be. Coincidences are not random occurrences, they come for our instruction, guidance and help. Many people know this, and more are coming to realize it every day.
The four ways people steal energy from others are by going aloof, complaining bitterly, peppering someone with questions, and, of course, behaving in a blatantly intimidating manner.
There is an aggressive discontent that is angry and blaming. It is hard to hold on to your personal energy when you get around a person like that. It can be done though. You have to be really strong in your own contentment. Of course that will make them madder. You just keep giving short, soft answers to their loud, lengthy complaints. Don’t get sucked into a yelling match! They will try to insult you, push your buttons. Don’t have any buttons! Eventually their discontent will dissipate providing you DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY! It’s tricky, you have to be aloof without being aggressively aloof. You have to be caring, but you can’t let yourself get sucked into their drama.
The Third Chakra is on the spine between the iliac crests. It oversees digestion of both food and emotions. The strength here is contentment, joy, gratitude. The aggressive weakness is a poisonous discontent. The passive weakness is a depression that just shuts down.
Diet is important. Moses introduced dietary laws while the Israelites wandered in the wilderness on the Sinai Peninsula around 3000 years ago, as recounted in the books of Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. There were certain meats that were unlawful for the Israelites to eat (such as pork and fish without scales). Eating the flesh of an animal who lived a life of depressing confinement and died in fear and pain will not bring happiness. The Israelites were given laws about the care of animals in a compassionate manner, for instance, don’t muzzle the ox who threshes the grain. What have become known as the kosher butchering laws were described in the Old Testament. Butcher in such a way that the blood flows as the animal is dying. There is a natural anesthesia that happens when the blood flows freely. Otherwise the animal’s pain and distress is imprinted in the meat. If all that is available is factory farmed meat and dairy (cared for and butchered in a cruel manner), it may be better not to eat meat or dairy at all.
The Others In Our Lives
Jesus Christ gave the example of how to live and how to die. Even while dying he showed us how to live. He ignored the abuse and the mockery except when something could be said that might possibly enlighten someone. He was crucified between two thieves, a slow, agonizing execution. One of the thieves mocked Jesus and he ignored it. The other thief repented and praised Jesus. ‘Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”’ Luke 23:43 NIV.
There are some associates, some of them even family members, who are not worth bothering with. They are thieves, but they don’t care. They may put on a pretense of being religious (or not), but they have not recognized the Lord. Their assaults are temporary. The only thing we might do is scan them every once in awhile to see if there is any scent of humility or holiness. If not, move on.
But those associates and family members who have a trace of humility, a bit of understanding, we have a more permanent relationship with. Death will not be the end. It is worthy to encourage them and allow them to encourage us.