Is it Suffering or Restlessness?

Hank Mattimore
May 26, 2014
Reproduced with Permission

A while back a Buddhist corrected me when I called the central truth about Buddhism is that we are all born into suffering. "Suffering" as we understand the word in English, doesn't capture what we mean," he said. "Restlessness rather than suffering better captures the Buddhist teaching." Whether his interpretation represents the essence of Buddhism or not, I am not qualified to judge but it makes sense to me. Sort of reminds me of St. Augustine's "Our hearts are made for Thee, O Lord, and can not rest until they rest in Thee."

We are a restless bunch, we humans, dissatisfied with ourselves, if the truth were known.. In our heads, we acknowledge that we will never be completely satisfied with, well, anything. Let's face it. We're all screw-ups.

We're not the perfect parents we hoped to be, not the endearing spouse; nor did we marry the perfect spouse or have perfect kids. We haven't made as much money or learned as much or traveled as far as we dreamed. And on and on...We know the drill. Man o Man. Our lives aren't living up to our dreams. C'mon admit it. Our lives teeter between near disaster and disaster.

Except they don't and we don't. Our lives are not a mess. The restlessness we feel is built in to our human condition. Wisdom lies in accepting ourselves with all our warts and just keep on truckin, doing the best we can with what we have. The alternative is to drown in a fruitless grit-your- teeth kind of striving for a happiness just beyond our reach.

I respect the ideals of the poet who called us to be "The masters of our fate and the captains of our soul," but I don't see many masters or captains around my world. I see mostly ordinary blokes just trying to carve out a life for themselves.

So mates, we will be well served if we can just sort of relax in our imperfections. Be kind to others; pet your doggy; hug your loved ones(even old Uncle Charile). God loves us just as we are.