80 minute meditation journal

20 April 2017 8:28 PM
Zendo sit.

We talk a lot about suffering in Buddhism but it strikes me that while many people come to practice well aware that they are suffering and wanting to address this, many other people deny/don't see their suffering because of a tendency to numb themselves to avoid really feeling it. I was certainly in that group for many years. If anyone had asked me if I was suffering I would have laughed. I had everything that society deems necessary for a 'happy life'. Besides, my working life was spent with people with 'real problems' (far easier to devote my time to trying to 'fix' other people that to look honestly at my own life), so any dissatisfaction that I noticed I saw as ingratitude on my part. That numbness was a self-defence mechanism and it served a purpose - but it also cut me off from life and others.

Travelling on the underground today (I usually travel above ground on two wheels) and looking at the faces of commuters around me I could see a lot of people who also looked numb to life, like life was something to be endured day by day. Obviously I don't know if their commuting faces reflect their attitude to the rest of their lives but I hope not. Life is too short to allow to drift by as I did for so long. It was almost more painful to watch than it is for me to be with people with intense emotions - at least with intense emotions there can be a desire and an opportunity to address them whereas from within numbness there either needs to be a big life upturning shock or a gradual thawing out for change to be possible. I was lucky enough to have both, otherwise I doubt I would have found my way to practice. Not necessarily wishing life upturning shocks on other people but I'm very grateful for mine.