It is important that we consider and reflect on the theme of the four requisites (clothing, food, shelter and medicine) —trying to both be clear in terms of what is that we actually need and what is it that we want or desire. It usually gets a bit cloudy or confused around these two points. If we try to rely on what is necessary for a simple life and question the desire or feeling of need that comes up, then it can become a bit clearer and we can become better able to understand how it is that desire keeps pushing us around. Our lifestyle is so simple that the mind focuses on things very strongly and builds a case for what it really needs. But when you reflect and investigate and question, you realize that it wasn’t actually a need at all—it’s just another desire. So use the requisites as a means to understand the mind. The tools of our lifestyle are the Vinaya, the requisites, our day-to-day activities, and the practice itself. We need to take the time to turn our attention back on the mind itself and see the moods that come up, because that’s where we create suffering, complication and proliferation. Use the requisites as a mirror to see clearly what appears in the mind and what the mind is scrambling to get. Having this prescribed lifestyle is very, very fruitful and encourages us to reflect more clearly about the nature of our desire and attachments. We build a case for what we want and what we feel is necessary before we even really think about it. But, being an alms mendicant with requisites and living in the monastery with this fundamental simplicity, gives us a clear opportunity to unravel the way the mind complicates things, makes things problematic, and takes us away from fundamental contentment. We don't necessarily live by an extraordinary standard—different temperaments have different propensities—but just using these tools gives us the opportunity to reflect, investigate, and learn to understand the mind itself.
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