Hunger, Craving and Need
30,000 children die of starvation or curable disease every day. In a recent post of Buddha Dharma I quoted a text which explains a Buddhist understanding that all our suffering and happiness comes from our mind; that if we can control our mind we will have the source of happiness within us forevermore.
I can not say to a child starving to death that their suffering is the result of their untamed mind. I can not say that, if only they could learn to accept and be at peace with their situation, their suffering would end. I do not think this is what the Buddha meant either and I doubt he would be happy with this interpretation of his teachings. Indeed he only came to full realisation after he had eaten a bowl of milk rice offered him by a child and satiated his hunger, recognising that austere practices of self-denial were not the way to truth.
I am not sure how to resolve these two positions, both of which make a great deal of sense. Except to say that suffering of the sort the buddha was referring to is the suffering of our minds and that the body must be fed for the mind to be free to understand and heal it’s hurts. And this collective hurt we inflict on the world with our economics of starvation must end if we are to find a collective peace that allows individuals to come to terms with, be at peace with, themselves. For as long as one child dies, my humanity and yours die too, in a small but not insignificant way, as we bury our feelings of shame at the way things are done.