Memorable Quote: You cannot control your experiences, all day, all week, all month, all year, so that you never have to deal with unpleasant things. You have to mature enough so that you’re not disappointed when unpleasant things happen.
Synopsis: There’s no way to live a human life and avoid suffering, says Tempel. Our minds want to avoid suffering (Dukkha), but we need to work within the realm of what is possible. Our best strategy is “harm reduction;” if we can meet our changing fates with maturity, we can wisely and compassionately respond. Our need to escape from suffering is agitating, brings unease, and is tiresome. It is enough in life to confront inevitable challenges, so we don’t need to make the situation worse by adding a layer of judgment and disappointment onto those challenges.
Because life is ever-changing, Tempel suggests that we be minfdul of where we are drawing our security. Are we clinging to a certain fixed notion of our relationships, our health, our job, or our wealth? If so, then we will become disoriented when these things change, as they must. If we can accept all parts of life as in flux, then we can meet each new moment with wisdom and joy. What we need to acclimate ourselves to is change and impermanence. If we can succeed at that, we will become resilient in an ever-changing world, because we will not be knocked down by new experience. We will be more agile in responding to reality as it is, as we will be deeply embedded into the truth of life’s natural progression.
I like: Tempel takes very real life examples to make illustrate that life is ever-changing, and that those looking for security in any particular aspect, clinging to any particular element of their lives, are very vulnerable to life’s natural progression.
I wish: It is not clear to me if what Tempel is suggesting is that we can take security in impermanence, or if maybe it’s a better move to not seek security at all. Given the world is everchanging and dynamic, maybe our familiar notion of “security” is part of what we need to challenge.
More about the Speaker: Tempel Smith spent a year ordained as a monk in Burma and teaches Buddhist psychology and social activism in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is currently part of the IMS/Spirit Rock Teacher Training Program. Read more at www.tempelsmith.info