One who drinks in the Dharma
Sleeps happily with a clear mind.
The sage always delights in the Dharma
Taught by the noble ones. (translated by Gil Fronsdal)
Some of us, when we first encounter the Dharma, experience an instant recognition and deep satisfaction; for others of us, it’s a slow-growth process. At first, the Dharma may make us uncomfortable, challenging our beliefs and assumptions about ourselves and the world and how it all fits together.
We cling to a firm conviction that we deserve good things and that anything uncomfortable or inconvenient for us is some kind of mistake. This can result in a perpetual low-grade uneasiness. It might seem absurd that there could be a more important task than to protect and preserve our bodies and accumulate as much wealth, comfort, recognition, etc. as we can for ourselves and our loved ones. But there is another view which is both illuminating and freeing.
The Dharma starts with dukkha, with accepting and acknowledging that dukkha, in all its infinite variety, is an inescapable fact of life for everyone, everywhere. Including us? Yes, including all of us. Until we drink in this truth, this law of the natural world, we cannot see the Dharma. Once we understand that dukkha is ever-present, we can also see that it is caused by something (clinging) and that release through non-clinging is possible. It’s a complete package, but many of us get caught on that first step of letting go of the fantasy of a perfectly comfortable life.
And yet, the release and joy that comes from seeing things as they are, seeing the non-me-centered universe, are immense and long-lasting. It’s as if the fog has cleared and what was thoroughly confusing before becomes obvious. We have a way forward, we can see the Buddha’s 8-fold path of practice. Seeing the potential in the path brings a lasting and delightful peace.