The nature of this world and all within it is impermanence; all things arise, then pass. The cycle of unending impermanence brings with it suffering, as humans are wont to want things to be permanent and they cannot be so.
We want our loved ones to remain with us and us with them.
We want enjoyable experiences to sustain.
We want the feeling of belonging and being valued, of making a difference and mattering.
We want more than we have and we want less than we fear.
The fourth thought that turns the mind within the Ngondo practice is contemplation on how these attachments, these wants, these desires affect our ability to be peaceful, content, and happy here, now, in this moment.
Humans have the tendency to think NOT of what they have and enjoy, but what they are missing. In odd ways, despite any plenty or well being a human may have, they often are found thinking about what they lack, the ‘one thing’ that would ‘make life perfect’ and, for it, are dissatisfied in this moment.
The attachment to something that doesn’t exist, that isn’t here, the desire to have it; a want that overpowers any good feeling and brings a pall to things that should be delightful, this is the root of all dissatisfaction in life, all suffering.
“If only….” — this phrase is the crux of attachment:
“If only I had a job that paid better.”
“If only I were not alone.”
“If only I had a nice car.”
“If only I could afford a vacation.”
“If only I could buy a house.”
“If only I could buy a boat.”
The list is unfathomable because the depths of what humans want knows no limit. It is never enough. Have you ever noticed that it is never enough? That no matter how much of anything you get, there is never a point at which you really feel content?
Or secure in having it?
For that matter, have you ever noticed that there’s really no such thing as security, safety, or being outside the reach of tragedy or loss?
That, in fact, the more you accrue and have, the strong your fear of losing it becomes? Or the more you feel defined by it? Or constrained?
There is a reason why learning to cherish your human life, remembering that all things are impermanent, being mindful of cause and its effects, and avoiding attachment are important to building a healthy, happy, balanced, and peaceful life…
Until you accept what IS, you cannot possibly learn to be healthy in relation to it, happy for it, balanced regardless of it, or peaceful in the midst of it.
If you are forever looking ahead to the next ‘acquisition’, you’re never going to feel content with where you are or find happiness in being here, now.
If you are forever working to avoid ‘bad things’, you’re never going to feel secure or truly safe as you are, where you are now.
If you are forever reaching for something that isn’t here yet or looking backward at something that was and is no more, you’re never going to be able to enjoy and appreciate what is here.
The point and purpose of Ngondois to help you begin and hone the process of attuning yourself to the now, the here, the present, this moment, which, in the grand scheme of things, is all you ever have or ever will have.
This, the last thought in the practice, is the deepest thought that the remainder gently point to — because until you see, embrace, understand, and absorb/incorporate the fact that attachment creates suffering, it is impossible to really see, embrace, understand, and absorb/incorporate that you are the only one who can ever hope to change any of it for yourself.
And until you are willing to accept that the choice to attach is the choice to suffer, you cannot begin consideration of how to choose differently. Until the effect of suffering is unequivocally linked to the cause of attachment, you cannot see beyond it, nor understand what must change to create the effect of ending the feeling of suffering (for not having).
The term Buddhists use to describe this unending cycle of suffering is ‘samsara’…. and the point of this last of the four thoughts is that samsara is always dissatisfying, therefore, one should contemplate often upon how the suffering may be assuaged by avoiding attachment.