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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
37 spring 2 01 1 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly by sensory impressions on billboards, on the radio, and all around us. without mindfulness, we are vulnerable. with mindfulness, we can be aware of what we are seeing, hear- ing, smelling, and touching. our mindful awareness can help us change the focus of our attention and be nourished by the positive things around us. The blue sky, the sounds of birds, the presence of a friend—all of these things feed our compas- sion and joy. The Third Nutriment: Volition The third kind of nutriment, volition, is also called aspira- tion or desire. every one of us has a deep desire, and we are nourished by that desire. without desire, we wouldn’t have the energy to live. That deepest desire can be wholesome or unwholesome. when siddhartha left the palace to follow a spiritual path, he had a desire to practice and to become enlightened in order to help people suffer less. That desire was wholesome, because it gave him the energy to practice, to overcome difficulties, and succeed. But the desire to pun- ish another person, to acquire wealth, or to succeed at the expense of others, is an unwholesome desire that brings suf- fering to everyone. each of us can look deeply to recognize our deepest desire, to see whether it is wholesome. The desire to help fight pol- lution and preserve our planet is something wonderful. But our craving for money, power, sex, fame, or to punish oth- ers only leads to ill-being. That kind of desire pulls us in the direction of death. if we find this kind of volition rising up in us, we need to stop and look deeply. what is behind this desire? is there a feeling of sadness or loneliness we are trying to cover up? The Fourth Nutriment: Consciousness Consciousness here means collective consciousness. we are influenced by the way of thinking and the views of other people in many ways. individual consciousness is made of collective consciousness, and collective consciousness is made of individual consciousness. it is our collective consciousness that determines how we live in the world. if we aren’t mindful and we live in an envi- ronment where people around us are very angry, violent, or cruel, then sooner or later we’ll become angry and cruel as well. even if we intend to be compassionate and kind, we can’t help but be influenced by the collective consciousness. if everyone else around us is consuming material things and giv- ing in to craving, it is more difficult to maintain our mindful awareness. This is especially true for our children. when we put our children in an environment, they may be as influenced by that environment as they are by our parenting. Most of us don’t live in an environment where people are always peaceful, compassionate, and open. But we can be mindful of creating a community around us that fosters these qualities. even if it is only our house or our block or our small community, we need to surround ourselves with compassion- ate people. The Buddha said, “if you know how to look deeply into the nature of your craving and identify the source of nutriments that have brought it in to you, you are already at the begin- ning of transformation and healing.” every kind of ill-being has been brought to us by one or more nutriments. Looking into the nature of ill-being in terms of the four nutriments can lead us onto the path of mindful consumption, which is the path to well-being. Mindful Consumption More than two thousand years ago, the Buddha offered guide- lines called the five wonderful Precepts to his lay students to help them live peaceful, wholesome, and happy lives. i have translated these precepts for modern times as the five Mindfulness Trainings, because mindfulness is at the foundation of each of them. The first Mindfulness Training focuses on reverence for life; the second on generosity and right livelihood; the third on true love and sexual responsibil- ity; the fourth on deep listening and right speech. The fifth Mindfulness Training, focusing on health and healing through mindful consumption, says: “aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom, and compas- sion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying. we are committed to living simply and sharing our time, energy, and material resources with those in need. we will practice mindful consuming, not using alcohol, drugs, or any other products that bring toxins into our own and the collective body and consciousness.” we can make a decision to follow this training and commit to not consuming anything that brings toxins into our body and mind. Mindful consumption is the way out of craving, not only for us as individuals, but also for the whole world. The only sustainable way for human life to continue is if we con- sume less and become content with fewer possessions. once we are able to live simply and happily, we are better able to help others. we have more time and energy to share. Mindful consumption means looking deeply into your desire to consume, as it arises, staying with that desire until richardfriday