One can be a very selfish Buddhist and want life to be very quiet and want to be able to ‘practise’ and have plenty of time for sitting, plenty of time for studying the Dhamma and ‘I don’t want to have to receive guests and talk to people about silly things’ and ‘I don’t want to … blah blah blah.’ You can really be a very, very selfish person as a Buddhists monk. You can want the world to align itself with your dreams and ideals and, when it doesn’t, you don’t want it anymore. But rather than make things the way you want them, the Buddha way is to notice the way things are. And it’s a great relief when you accept the way it is, even if it’s not very nice; because the only real misery is not wanting it to be like that.
Whether things are going not so well or well, if we’re not accepting the way things are, then the mind tends to be creating some form of misery. So, if you are attached to things going nicely, then you’ll start worrying about them if they don’t go so well, even when things are actually going well. I have just noticed that with little things, such as when it’s a sunny day and one jumps for joy – then the next thought will be, ‘But in England, you know, the sun can disappear in the next moment.’
As soon as I’ve grasped one perception and I’m jumping for joy at the sunshine, then the unpleasant thought arises that it may not last. Whatever you’re attached to will bring on its opposite. And then when things aren’t going very well, the mind tends to think, ‘I want them to get better than this.’ So suffering arises wherever there is this grasping of desire.
This reflection by Ajahn Sumedho is from the book, The Way It Is, p. 62.