There’s an element of the human psyche that is constantly looking for comfort, security, and ease. We can sometimes believe that the end of suffering is when we bring about the circumstances in which we don’t have to extend ourselves or put forth too much effort. But even when we’ve managed to manipulate conditions in a way that allows us to feel relatively comfortable and laid back, we inevitably realize that we are still suffering.
That’s why, as practitioners, we need to be willing to stretch our capabilities and constantly look for ways that help us to do that. Whether we’re on retreat or engaged with each other in the monastery’s communal routine, we need to keep experimenting and working with different practices to stretch ourselves further.
Of course, there should be a balance in our efforts; constantly pushing and striving is itself a form of suffering. This is why the Buddha pointed to the Middle Way. Rather than investigating what it is that makes us feel relatively comfortable and secure, we can investigate what it is that undermines the tendencies of greed, hatred, and delusion. We need to look very carefully, asking ourselves, What are those underlying roots of delusion? What are those habits of selfishness?
By investigating like this, we learn that we don’t need to be tripped up by our habits or defilements; we learn to let go of our comfort-seeking and to undermine the underlying tendencies that cause us complication and difficulty; and we learn to be okay with whatever conditions arise. When we have stretched our capabilities this far, we can find true ease and comfort that is independent of any causes or conditions.
This reflection by Ajahn Pasanno is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume One, pp. 75-76.