One Damn Thing After Another

The last few weeks have been pretty rough for me, after a senior engineer on my team resigned, and my workload suddenly grew exponentially. I try to turn off the news as well when it feels overwhelming, but it still weighs on my mind even when I try not to think about it.

Lately I have a persistent feeling of “it’s just one damn thing after another”, but as I think about it, this is a pretty good summation of Buddhist doctrine, the Dharma, as well.

The Buddha described the world using the term dukkha which doesn’t translate well in English, but was often compared to a spinning potter’s wheel. A wheel that is sukkha spins smoothly and easily. A potter’s wheel that is dukkha wobbles and requires more effort to make it spin the way you want. In the same way, life is marked with frustration, challenges, dissatisfaction and so on.

Then, things outside your control happen, throwing a wrench in your plans and aspirations. It really can feel like “one damn thing after another” both on a personal level, and at a macro level.

The Buddha is thus cynical of the cosmic rat race and all the suffering that comes with it. Like waves in water, arising and falling in rapid succession, many things in life, both beneficial and harmful, will come and go. The Buddha’s teaching is thus not to get too attached, too invested. See it for what it is, and let it go.

On flows the river ceaselessly, nor does its water ever stay the same. The bubbles that float upon its pools now disappear, now form anew, but never endure for long.

Kamo no Chomei, the Hojoki, trans. by Meredith McKinney

Namu Amida Butsu

Published by Doug

🎵Toss a coin to your Buddhist-Philhellenic-D&D-playing-Japanese-studying-dad-joke-telling-Trekker, O Valley of Plentyyy!🎵He/him

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