Dog with BoneImage courtesy of debspoons/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I promise I am not turning Buddhist—–at least, not yet. Just yesterday I stepped on about 10 insects that were trying to cross over  the threshold of my front door into my house. I tried to rationalize I was putting them out of their misery and preventing them from freezing to death come nightfall.

Seriously, though, I feel drawn to the writings of those who follow Buddha. Today I am going to be writing about a quote from Thich Nhat Han, a man who is considered a Buddhist Zen master. The quote addresses the concept of craving. Granted, craving is a recognized component of addiction, but I believe it is experienced by everyone.  According to Thich Nhat Hanh (p. 70 in The Art of Power, 2007,  published by  Harper Collins in New York), “The Buddha described a dog who, when thrown a bare bone, runs after it and chews on it even though there’s no meat on the bone. He doesn’t get any nutrition form the bone, yet he hangs on to it and won’t let go. Our attitude is just like that. Cravings can never bring satisfaction, yet we keep on running after them. ”

Reading this, I have to ask myself, “What bone am I running after at this point in time?” Alcoholics in recovery often say “One drink is too many, and a thousand is not enough.” By the grace of God, I am not drawn today to go chasing after that one drink too many——but what am I chasing today? Is it a warm, cozy drink of hot chocolate? A new book? A new computer game? A new pair of shoes? Just one potato chip too many? Obviously, craving is a part of my life. Or it can be if I don’t re-direct my attention to receiving and sharing God’s love. All those things, food, drink, apparel, toys, gadgets, tools, etc.—-they are just things. I can keep chewing on them, but they will not feed my soul.

Sometimes, though, I must admit, the familiar act of chewing that old bone is somewhat comforting. It can be; that is part of its allure— the “chewing” can be perceived as comfortable, predictable, and solid. Sometimes the bones I chase aren’t physical objects; sometimes they are worries, ideas, resentments and, fears—-all those thoughts that are used to monopolizing my cognition. Learning to replace those with faith, love, prayer, and service is a skill that I will always be in the process of learning rather than mastering. My serenity depends on my successfully re-structuring my “craving protocol” focus from worldly values to a spiritual values. I need to do this to  nurture my eternal soul as all else will pass away.

Whoa! I didn’t mean to get quite so “preachy” this morning, but I think the message about attending to what I am craving and what I’m doing about it with God’s help is an important one for me to comprehend and accept. Please comment and share your thoughts about craving. May God bless and keep you.

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