Like grass after rain
For anyone overcome by this miserable craving
And clinging to the world.
Sorrow falls away
Like drops of water from a lotus
For anyone who overcomes this miserable craving
And clinging to the world. (translated by Gil Fronsdal)
Continuing on with our exploration of craving: our impulse is to look away from this subject because we consider our likes and dislikes not as a problem but as the basis of a comfortable identity. We may not think of our desires as “miserable craving and clinging to the world”, but as the essence of who we are. The Buddha’s teachings invite us to see it in a different light.
Imagine being free of the impulse to get or get rid of things, which is our normal mode of functioning. The prospect that these invisible but compelling forces might disappear could make us feel exposed, bereft, or empty. But as Shinzen Young once said, emptiness is the expression of universal potential. If our opinions and preferences can be reduced or removed, the air of freedom can waft through. Who knows what we may discover if we are fully present without an agenda?
Sorrow in this context could be a few different things. If we are obsessed with craving, we are unlikely to be satisfied, and frustration at being unable to fulfill our desires may increase our general unhappiness. Even if we successfully satisfy a particular craving, each instance of need, whether it leads to fulfillment or frustration, has the effect of increasing the hold that this process has over us. Think of the character Gollum in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy; he is a complete example of a being consumed by craving.
Of course, all of us have desires and wishes that are both wholesome and unwholesome. We are being encouraged to clearly and dispassionately investigate the energetic phenomenon that is craving within our own bodies and minds. How does it work? What physical sensations are associated? Is there a thought pattern we can identify?
Based on our own attitudes towards our cravings and how we manage our desires, sorrow (or frustration or unhappiness) can either grow like weeds after rain, or can drop away, as water does from a waxy lotus petal.