Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Simple Pleasures: Not So Simple

Sometimes we look to children to provide us with a model of pure attention or complete absorption in the moment, and we fantasize that practice will restore us to a state of lost simplicity or immediacy. When I watch my son eat ice cream, it’s easy to imagine that his whole world is nothing but pure sensuous delight. But if I inadvertently put his ice cream in the wrong-colored dish or don’t give him his favorite spoon or try to make him eat over a place mat, the picture changes. It turns out that his simple pleasure was not so simple after all. That “pure” childhood act is revealed to have many layers of opinion, likes, and dislikes already built into it (by age two!) that are required to make the experience just so.

Barry Magid, from Ordinary Mind (Wisdom Publications)

Received as Daily Dharma from on the 18th of March 2009


This email struck a chord with me and I kept it in my in-box so that I could reflect on it further. I think there is much we can learn from children but Barry Magid makes a very good point. Noticing that we have started fantasizing about some lost state is a clear opportunity to redirect our attention back to the practice, back to our life as it is now.

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