Oakville Zen Meditation

#503 Don't swallow your own poison pill May 11 24

Don’t swallow your own poison pill 

The Buddha defines the First Noble Truth as “ Life is suffering “meaning unhappiness, dissatisfaction, or any other negative feelings. “Noble” means genuine, true, real, or ruth.

He calls the causes of suffering “the 3 poisons”. 

They are: desires, hatred, and Ignorance better called Illusion/Delusions. We talked about it already.

XIII century Japanese Zen Master Dogen has a very simple definition of the word “poison”

“ Anything beyond our basic needs is poison”. 

Here “need” should be understood in its broader sense such as 

        “Perceived need to get a, b, c  / Perceived need not getting x, y, z ”. 

The list of our needs is endless and varies all the time, and from one person to the next.

Here is a very short list of some  of our perceived needs:

Material wealth.  

Healthy life: physically / intellectually, emotionally, and affectionately.

Optimal: job, social interactions, and quality of life. Etc...

Don’t get me wrong:

It is perfectly okay to define our needs and to reach them as long they are necessary, logical, and achievable for the benefit of everyone.

However, they become poisons when they are unrealistic or useless, sort of perfect wishful thinking.

This is what Dogen met, and it is no no-brainer.


Ongoing search to achieve even our basic needs can be a source of suffering when such a quest cannot be achieved.

On top of it, trying to achieve hypothetical needs totally beyond our current basic ones is generating a poison pill. Sort of machistic behavior, isn’t it? 

Unfortunately, our Western economy and GDP are ~72% based on our consumption.

The more you have, the better you and your life will be.

“ If I had this, doing that, I will be better off”.........Are you sure?

“ If I did not have that, not doing this, I would be better off”.......Are you sure?

This is the antithesis of searching for a quiet life, and eventually achieving serenity, and Awakening.

Surely, it is not the Zen way.

Final words:

Always minimize to set up your ego-driven mind-made unnecessary/unrealistic needs.

You will feel more satisfied, and comfortable with your life, and this is Dogen’s message.