According to the Buddha, the eight worldly winds revolve around the world, and the world revolves around these eight worldly conditions.
These eight worldly winds, or conditions, are: gain and loss; fame and disrepute; praise and blame; and pleasure and pain.
For the purpose of this brief blog, we’ll focus on that last pair—pleasure and pain.
I think we can agree that trying to avoid pain and chase after pleasure leads to suffering—either in the form of worry and fear or addiction and isolation.
Yet we humans seek pleasure and attempt to evade pain routinely, because it’s built into our biology.
We have to practice to change our habits around pleasure and pain.
Pleasure and pain are natural and automatic parts of living in the world.
They are unavoidable. It helps to remember their impermanence. When you feel pleasure, say to yourself, “This is is enjoyable, but it won’t give me lasting satisfaction. It is subject to change.”
Working with pain is a bit more difficult, for obvious reasons, but equally as useful fodder for practice. Whether the pain is physical or emotional, say to yourself, “This hurts, but it won’t last forever. It is subject to change.” Try to pinpoint the areas of pain and notice (without judgment and with compassion) how it subtly shifts and transforms.
Although it’s easy to curse impermanence for its shiftiness, for the way it shakes things up and often leaves us feeling unsettled or abandoned, perhaps we can change our paradigm.
As Thich Nhat Hanh teaches, “Impermanence makes everything else possible.” In other words, knowing that things are constantly changing enables us to open up to each moment.
Pleasure arises. Enjoy it. Let it go.
Pain arises. Feel it. Lean in. Then move on.
They key is to allow the moments to arise and pass—and be fully here for all of it.
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Ed: Sara Crolick