According to Buddhism, there are for four noble truths, one of which is that suffering is borne from craving, and I can’t but agree with it. Suffering is said to be caused by our “…attachment to the desire to have (craving) and the desire not to have (aversion)” (zenenlightenment.net). The Bible also tells us that our wars and conflicts arise from our insatiable desires. James wrote:
1. Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?
2. You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.
3. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.
4. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
Enlightenment comes in Buddhism when one is able to rise above all craving, even craving to change a bad situation. It seems impossible, and highly undesirable, to be in a painful situation and accept the pain, rather than desire to overcome it. But the former is believed to be the solution, because if you are detached, you will not be disappointed. But in attachment and disappointment lies your suffering…
As I read Yuval Noah Harari’s take on this principle, in his book, Sapiens, I was reminded about Jesus’ teaching about the Cross and the call for every follower of His to deny themselves. I believe Jesus was addressing this same human flaw, to want and crave and live in longing and discontent. Rather, we must silence our flesh that craves endlessly and succumb to the will of God, whatever it is. And even in death, we shall have peace.
I think the Christian messages that are preached on the pulpits around the world, especially around this time of the year, are FAR from dying to oneself or denying your cravings. In fact, our cravings are fanned by motivational speakers masquerading as pastors, who prophesy “the year of breakthrough!”, “the year of abundance!”, “the year of deliverance!” and so forth. They incite us with many stories, biblical or otherwise, to tell us why we should not be content, but continuously strive for something more that God has in mind for us (usually worldly), which demands our works and sacrifice.
I’m not saying there is no truth in these things, especially as its virtually impossible to be alive without having cravings. And also, most cravings are legitimate, and when under control, improve productivity. But fundamentally, the truth remains that when we cease craving and choose contentment, we will find ourselves a lot more peaceful and joyful. We will be like Paul, able to rest and rejoice in want or in plenty.
Just as it was hard for people to accept this saying in Jesus’ time, it will be hard, and even harder, to accept it in these times. Much craving seems to justify whatever suffering one endures to become “successful”. And there are many success stories all over social media. But the many dying in silence, even with apparent success, are hidden or overlooked.
For our many comforts and pleasures, we have lost sight of the things that really make for happiness… Genuine relationships, friendship, fellowship and laughter. We find it hard to listen to others because we are overly consumed with what we want or need. And the constant craving steals our peace, even at night.
In 2019, I definitely suffered from much craving. So much disappointment as things I aspired to didn’t come into view. Disillusionment and even despair at the state of the world, and the country in which I reside and call home. I know I can’t deliver any from suffering, when I am still infected with cravings and anxieties, and I see no peace until I can let go and let God.
So, this year, my prayer is to rest in God more… Whatever happens, to take joy in living, without craving. To endure all things by the grace He gives, any suffering that comes my way and to trust that in all things, He is working everything out, not only for my good but, for the good of all.
“Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it,” (Matthew 16:24-25).
Photo credit: http://www.pixabay.com
If you liked this post, you might like WHAT IS THIS CROSS?
Are you blessed by this ministry? Why not partner with me?