Monday, July 03, 2006


Sunday was a day of rest. Which I really appreciated. There was an intense thunderstorm last night, with really high winds blowing things around. There were lightning strikes sometimes three or four per second, driving rain, and all the other good stuff you'd expect from a Himalayan-sized storm. Tri, Peter, Michael, Nicole, Andrea and I sat in our room and watched A Fish Called Wanda. Good times.

Not much else to report. We're going down to Norbulingka today before the teaching. I'm not sure what to expect - the original Norbulingka was His Holiness' summer retreat, and this one supposedly has beautiful gardens and a lovely temple, but that could mean anything. Apparently there's also shopping.

Will Shetterly
was talking a couple of weeks ago about a hierarchy of need. To me, the whole point of fulfilling ones' basic needs is to get to the point where you are free to do something meaningful with your life. The thing that strikes me here is how trapped people are. There are plenty of trapped people in the U.S. as well. I brought my guitar here. I'm not a guitar player. I'm a computer geek. Here, people are drivers, or waiters, or cooks. Because my job pays well, I'm free to just buy a guitar, not because it has any economic function for me, but because I want it. I want to play it.

I don't know if people here have that kind of freedom; the appearance is that they do not. Our drivers think nothing of working all day and all night. They get paid extra for it, about a dollar an hour (some of which, I suspect, goes to the car company, not to the driver).

I feel a little sad about the intonement adjustments on my guitar - they're a little more primitive than the ones on the expensive Fenders. The guitars here are an order of magnitude more primitive.

I feel a little funny staying at the caretaker's house up at DM sometimes, because it's a bit rough around the edges. It's a palace compared to any ordinary home here.

Is the problem that this place is too dirty, or that I have too little santosha? The interesting thing is that in fact I have a lot more santosha than I would ordinarily think, since I'm basically doing just fine here.

I still want the nice car on the way back to Delhi. But if we get the not-so-nice car, I think I'll be okay.


Anonymous NN said...

Being trapped is entirely a state of mind, and while the hierarchy of needs might fit most behavior, it is not the rule. You're either trapped because you cannot make ends meet because of a low paying job. Being attached to a high paying job is also a in a sense being trapped. Your santosha quotient will be inversly proportional to attachment factor, kinda geeky way of putting things ;)

Monday, July 03, 2006 2:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Patricia said...


Monday, July 03, 2006 3:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ted,

What is santosha?

Can you mention more about HHDL's teachings in your next installment.

with peace.

Monday, July 03, 2006 3:54:00 PM  
Anonymous nn said...

Santosha is Sanskrit for Happiness. Also see:

Monday, July 03, 2006 8:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 5:19:00 AM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

It's quite skillful to say that "santosha" means "happiness," but it's not literally correct. It's skillful because if you have santosha, you will have a much easier time being happy, for precisely the reasons that nn stated.

However, what santosha actually means is to be satisfied with what you have. So not wasting your precious life, which could end at any time, in a pursuit, which makes you unhappy, of material objects that have no power to make you happy.

While I somewhat agree with that nn said about being trapped being a state of mind, I think it's important to be aware that states of mind are real things (at least according to Master Bhavaviveka). And they have real power to cause suffering. So we can't say that because something is a state of mind, it's not a problem - we don't have that kind of control over our mind (according to the Detailist school).

(If you're not attending the teachings, some of the previous paragraph may not make sense, and sadly I don't have time to explain it here, but it's funny how applicable these teachings are to everyday conversation. Both His Holiness, in less detail, and Geshe Michael, in more detail, presented the same teaching).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous nn said...

Hi Ted, you're right. 'Sukha' is more closer to 'Happiness' than Santosha. Although in regular usage (in Sanskrit derived languages) they are used interchangeably.

Also, I’m not suggesting that because something is a ‘State of mind’ it does not make it problem. In fact, it only makes it more of a problem, especially since it would be an ‘ignorant’ state of mind. This view I think is quite common amongst all the schools including the lower schools as ignorance (Avidya) is the root that causes attachment/craving (Tanha) which is the opposite of Santosha.

It’s been a long time since I read on the Essence of True Eloquence, so I’m not sure how Bhavya and Chandrakirti argue it out in the higher schools…

Tuesday, July 04, 2006 1:00:00 PM  
Blogger Ted Lemon said...

Actually, the debate about mental constructs is between Master Bhavaviveka and the masters of the Mind Only school, like Arya Asanga. The Mind Only (cittamatra, or sem tsam) school holds that mental constructs do not have any true existence.

Je Tsongkapa uses Master Bhavaviveka's position on the three objects of the Mind Only school--shenwangs (dependent things), kuntaks (constructs), and yong drup (totality, the Mind Only version of ultimate reality)--to show what Master Bhavaviveka taught in his version of the Middle Way teachings.

And Master Bhavaviveka is quite firm in saying that mental constructs do exist truly in a nominal sense (not ultimately), and uses as a proof of this the fact that they can cause so much trouble. If they had no true existence, they couldn't cause suffering.

So the reason I said what I did about santosha is that we practitioners have a tendency to say "Oh, I don't have enough santosha," as if it were something over which we had direct control. But of course it's not. We can develop our santosha, but we can't just suddenly change course in midstream and have santosha because we decide to. Unless, of course, we have the karma to be able to make such a sudden change. :')

Wednesday, July 05, 2006 10:55:00 AM  

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