In my previous post, I discussed the Buddhist principle of ‘not seeking,’ and how we are constantly involved in the act of seeking. I believe that over 99% of our waking hours are spent seeking, whether we are seeking after pleasures, comforts, and distractions, or seeking to avoid the opposite of those things. We are so used to seeking that we aren’t even aware when we are doing it. When we habituate our minds to certain tendencies, such as seeking, we act on those tendencies at an unconscious level. Therefore, seeking occurs at a very unconscious, imperceptible level in our minds.
The act of seeking, at this subtle level, is directly related to one of the twelve links in the Buddha’s teaching on dependent origination. The tenth link is called bhava in Sanskrit. In English, it is translated as becoming or continuation. The way in which seeking is related to this link is through its involvement in moving the mind’s attention away from the present and into the future. When we seek, we are always seeking after something in the future, because of the fact that in the present we feel discontent.
Seeking reinforces continuation and becoming, because continuation and becoming are the movement of the mind into the future.
Seeking reinforces continuation and becoming, because continuation and becoming are the movement of the mind into the future. Regarding the 10th tenth link, bhava, what I find interesting about its English translation into the words continuation and becoming, is that these two words mean two very different things. Continuation means staying the same as time progresses. Becoming means changing into something different as time progresses. Yet, whether a person experiences a change or continuation, seeking reinforces both. In the case of continuation, the mind seeks to have its present pleasant state continue on into the future. This involves clinging to the present experience, which is the first of the Three Poisons–greed.
In the case of becoming, the mind seeks to have its present unpleasant state become a state that is no longer unpleasant in the future. This involves having aversion to the present experience, which is the second of the Three Poisons–anger. When a mind has clinging, it seeks to continue that experience into the future. When a mind has aversion, it seeks to have that experience become something different in the future. Yet, the key word in both of these statements is the word seeks. For that reason, a mind that’s constantly involved in seeking reinforces this particular link within dependent origination.
How could the mind stop becoming or continuing? In order to do that, it would have to be completely content in the present moment, without any trsna, or craving.
What I find also equally interesting is the opposite of bhava, that is, to not become or continue. How could the mind stop becoming or continuing? In order to do that, it would have to be completely content in the present moment, without any trsna, or craving. If a mind didn’t have craving, it would not cling to pleasant experiences or have aversion to unpleasant experiences. If a mind doesn’t have clinging, it will not have the desire to continue the experience into the future. If a mind doesn’t have aversion, it will not have the desire to make the experience become something different in the future. When there is no desire to continue an experience or to make it become something different, there will be no seeking after a future state. If there is no seeking, that means one’s mind is completely content in the present moment and does not feel a need to move its attention away from the present and into the future.
This brings up another point, which is the way in which not seeking causes our attention to return to the present. There is real value in this. For this reason, as a practice, not seeking really benefits meditation, in that it requires the mind to be focused on the present moment. If the mind is seeking, that automatically implies that it’s focused on the future, and not focused on the present. The only way to have a mind that is not seeking is by remaining focused on the present. Moreover, as we know, if the mind is not focused on the present, then there is no way we can ever hope to attain samadhi. Therefore, not seeking indirectly promotes samadhi. In my opinion, to the same extent that seeking reinforces the tenth link of dependent origination—bhava, not seeking reinforces being mindful in the present moment, and ultimately, therefore, reinforces samadhi. Not only that, but as mentioned in the previous post, it also reinforces inner contentment, which, when brought to the ultimate point, becomes nirvana–the extinguishment of afflictions.