I have been studying the Four Noble Truths lately in
preparation for writing a piece about them. I found this very interesting interpretation to the three
desires of the 2nd noble truth.
The classic three desires in Buddhist teaching are:
The desire for sensual pleasure
The desire for being.
The desire for non-being.
Greg Kramer, “Insight Dialogue”, has reinterpreted these
three desires from the perspective of interpersonal relationships. I find these very helpful when I am
being mindful of my psychology and my relationship to people. Each of these hungers has an associated
Desire and attachment to pleasurable
o fear of pain in relationship with its
corresponding loneliness and aversion
relationships with no conflict.
Hunger for being seen – fear of invisibility
Hunger for escape – the fear of engagement and
The root of each fear is the terror of emptiness or
This has been very fruitful to work with in my intimacy with
people. How can I have Awakened Awareness and presence with people?
My mindful curiousity has to discover the issues in my psychology that degenerate my
sense of presence with people.
I seem to bounce back and forth between wanting to be seen
by people and wanting to escape people.
This dichotomy presents first as wanting to be fully engaged with life
and seen in public with the preference for being praised or being liked. Simultaneously or sequentially, I want
to be a hermit and avoid all the complications of relationships. I fantasize
about living on a mountain top with no visitors or meditating on the shore of a
lake with no other responsibilities. (a permanent vacation. Smile). Sticking to either of these sides
interfere with my presence in life and my real communication with real people.
The fear of conflict can really diminish my field of
relationships and my sense of who I am.
I work with, in Greg Kramer’s vocabulary, trusting the emergence of the dialogue and the openness to work
things through. I have noticed if
I don’t enter a conflict with my shame in the forefront or my defensive stance
of “protecting my so-called self and her opinions”, problems with people can
get resolved one way or the other.
This is where the understanding of no
centralized self can really help our everyday behavior. We are less defensive and more capable
of listening and allowing change.
We see ourselves as a network of inter-connectedness and not an isolated
unit that needs protection.
On a subtler level, I can see the desire for being and non-being
playing out within my zazen.
zazen with a goal in mind is to be attached to one side or the other.
For many years I was attached to the
energetic system of the body; wanting the rapture of an open energy
For me now, I regard this
as attachment to the body or desire for being.
That view is to be attached to the beauty and mystery of
form life (and it is beautiful and mysterious. Ah, our precious human birth)
but our attachment to it creates suffering.
Than I swung the other way.
I tried to annihilate the sense gates and nest in silence,
darkness or emptiness;
where nothing is happening.
became a test of whether or not I could find and maintain emptiness.
The “I” being the operative word in
that sentence and “concepts” of dharma being hidden within it.
The idea of a “test” or a right way and
a wrong way, produced an extreme fatigue in meditation, and belies the reality
that we are always, even without trying, connected to the universe.
Now I see that both clinging to being
and clinging to emptiness or non-being, is not the Way.
Let go and be with what arises, either
From Dogen’s Fukanzazengi – “If there is
a hairsbreath deviation, it is like the
gap between heaven and earth.”
Trust in the co-arising of the opposites, and don’t control.
Be the universe without thought.
Much of our practice is to learn or reteach ourselves not to
cling to pleasure and have aversion to pain. This is the transformation of pain spoken about in the Four
Noble truths. How do we do this? We cultivate in ourselves the ability
to bring Awakened Awareness to whatever is happening without evaluation. Truly, learning to Live our Life. The “Trust in the Big Mind” sutra is
truly an inspiration for this.
those who do not pick and choose
If we are open to the process of life itself.
its ups and downs, pains and pleasures, successes and failures
If we can see our “self” as an open, interdependent network
If we can accept the “losses” that come with the inevitable
changes in life
Then, we can
As the Four noble truths suggest
Transform this very suffering into freedom.
Labels: buddhist craving, buddhist desires, Greg Kramer, relationships in buddhism, Second noble truths, Trust in Mind Sutra, zazen