“At this moment, right here, right now, I am not suffering.”
The thought that immediately preceded it was remembering my first meditation teacher, the late Godwin Samararatne, one of the great lay meditation teachers in the world during his lifetime, but mostly unknown to the world.
A number of us suspected that Godwin was not just an “ordinary” great teacher, we suspected that he may be enlightened, in the Buddhist sense of the word. Every time that topic came up, though, he would brush it aside with humorous humility. For example, he would say that, “I don’t know what an enlightened being looks like, but I know he doesn’t look like this”, then pointing to himself. And then everybody would laugh.
One time, in private, my friend who was hosting Godwin kept pushing that question. As usual, Godwin kept brushing it aside humbly, but my friend would have none of that humility BS, he just kept asking. Finally, Godwin paused, and then with a serious expression, he said, “Let’s put it this way, I have no more suffering.”
I remembered that, and then a thought occurred to me that even though I was not free from suffering, I had the next best thing, which was that at that very moment, I was not suffering.
That thought was so powerful it kept reoccurring in my mind. Every now and then, the thought would re-arise that says, “At this moment, I am not suffering.” Every time that happened, I returned to peace.
We may be able to frame a practice around this powerful idea. After all, maybe freedom from suffering is simply not suffering at this moment at every moment indefinitely. This suggests the practice that begins with recognizing when I am not suffering right now, understanding the conditions that enabled it, and then cultivating those same conditions for the future. Allow me to write my suggestion in verse:
Temporarily free from greed,
Temporarily free from hatred,
Temporarily free from grasping and aversion,
At this moment, I am not suffering.
Cultivating generosity, to be free from greed in the future,
Cultivating kindness and compassion, to be free from hatred in the future,
Cultivating wisdom, to be free from grasping and aversion in the future,
I create the conditions for non-suffering in the future.
In giving, in loving and in meditating,
I free myself.
Nothing the Buddha hasn’t already said, but slightly reframed in a new context.