Where Is Home?

Yesterday I broke a mug by accident while washing it. The handle touched against a tap and click it detached from the body of the mug. Sad thing really. I’d taken to the mug and mostly always used that one. It was a Queens Coronation memorial mug. Pleasing shape and well yes, a tiny bit kitsch and enjoyed in a tongue in cheek kinda way. All the better for the smile. And all former cherished mugs, and their inevitable deaths, ran through my mind as I retrieved the severed part. Now, determined to keep on using it though in the end the lack of handle will mean I won’t.

Years ago in the kitchen at Shasta, and I remember it like yesterday, I said cheerily to one of our European monks Home is where your mug is. Acknowledging the mug culture within the monastery. At community tea we would all collect our respective mugs, fill with a hot beverage and sip and talk and enjoy. (note: I was in the US and they say beverage. I never use the term normally) Anyway the monk, puzzled, asked What is this mug-is? Well he might ask! Mug-is is as close as one gets to home while living communally. At least true in the early years of monastic training.

Attachments and the cutting of attachments is a much misunderstood teaching in Buddhism. As is the sister or twin of attachment, craving. Pali Tanha – which translates as thirst. If I really thought my home, being comfort and security, resided in my current pet mug I’d be in serious trouble spiritually. And yet, and yet the passing away of the Queen mug is not nothing. There is loss. There is feeling just as when anything or anybody we are attached to, goes away. Effectively dies. So what are we actually saying when we talk about cutting attachments, or that maddening phrase let go! Well, here is good article from BuddhaNet Three Kinds of Desire (thirsting) which certainly sheds light on the breadth of the term tanha. And in the closing paragraph of the above mentioned article comes this:

But we need not continue to suffer. We are not just hopeless victims of desire. We can allow desire to be the way it is and so begin to let go of it. Desire has power over us and deludes us only as long as we grasp it, believe in it and react to it.

This is a subject well worth looking into some more and in the mean time I’ll fill up my metal thermal mug with a hot drink! What on earth I’ll do with myself when that goes west/gets lost I don’t know. It has traveled with me, world wide, for well over a year.

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6 thoughts on “Where Is Home?”

  1. made me smile to read that. For me the maddening phrase has been “just be willing”. I remember asking eventually “what if I’m just not willing?” which I wasn’t a lot of the time during retreats.

  2. What a timely blog. Once again. The link about desire especially. I found myself flailing about tonight trying to understand why I can’t let go of my sense that my life isn’t right. It’s good in a conventional sense, but I still cling to the belief that I need to apply myself and make it better. I think I’m starting to understand that “letting go” isn’t about seeing something disappear. Perhaps, I’m confusing the object and the subject? The thing to let go of and the person doing the letting go. (I’m still confused. I’ll just sit with that for now.)

  3. The phrase I find helpful is ‘ok, that’s how it is…’
    Which goes with ‘…but does anything need to be done about it’.
    I still find the whole desire question quite a challenge. There does need to be desire- we need to have some direction and movement. I suppose other traditions would say God’s will not mine.

  4. was – let go, let Buddha. That’s to say, yes to direction, yes to movement (how could it be any other way). And a BIG YES to knowing what is fueling us. What’s in the tank? Love? Unconditional? Selflessness dressed up regular looking.

  5. Yep Michael here we are again hitting in mid air somewhere over the atlantic – or tundra! It is hard to conceive of a life that is lived for what it is rather than for what it could become.

    Let’s face it we are blasted constantly with banners encouraging us to nurture ambition, strive to improve, buy tools to fix us up. The message is get on and get ahead. Discontent is encouraged.

    Lets live Michael. Out for a walk today I am drawn with my photographer eye (too bad I didn’t have my camera with me) to the utter perfection all around. Too bad we put ourselves seperate. The watchword simply has to be acceptance. A woman I know who is currently in a really tough place has landed there – acceptance. Indescribably she says.

  6. Ah yes, the being willing. Another phrase to drive one crazy. Once I was talking to somebody who was having difficulty letting go. Are you willing to let go? I asked. No, she replied. Are you willing to be willing? No, she replied. Are you willing to be willing to be willing? Yes, she replied. So there you have it. Somewhere in there there is the heart that will remain open, no matter what. Really. You know that of course.

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