‘Usually in our busy, modern lives there is a list of things we need or want to do to be happy – or that we imagine will make us happy. We need a certain amount of sleep, a breakfast with enough proteins and vitamins, coffee with cream and sugar, the right clothes, a commute that is not too long and full of traffic, good standing at a job that fulfills us; we need love and just the right amount of sex, but not too much .This is what I can the “human fulfillment checklist” – and it is impossible.
It’s impossible because there is always something new and necessary that appears on the horizon. But if we are in a situation where these things are impossible – where the cream and sugar are not there, where the clothes that we feel beautiful in have been replaced by shapeless black robes – then we can begin to act from a place that is beyond our small sense of self, the tiny, bound conceptual cage of who we think we are. When we are stripped of the things we think we need – or, I should say, when we give these things up, gladly and willingly – for long enough, we find, paradoxically, that we have more time and energy for other people, that we have a greater capacity to meet challenging situations with flexibility and grace. But renunciation is a practice that needs to be continuously cultivated; it’s not a one-time affair. This is why we continue to shave our heads when the hair grows back.’ (Bow First, Ask Questions Later)
Another quote from Gesshin that I resonate with very much from my own monastic training.