A friend of mine loves to talk about the struggle, though he always writes it #thestruggle.
When he talks about it is basically saying that life is hard for everyone. I tend to agree. The Buddhist concept of Samsara teaches us that life is suffering, another translation of Samsara might be struggling. In other words, the Buddha taught that the Struggle is Real.
In Dropping the Struggle, author Roger Housden talks about some of the things we struggle with. They are all very relatable concepts. I immediately thought of the five poisons/kleshas and while Housden doesn’t follow the same exact format, he certainly identifies these concepts as roots of Samsaric attachment.
The chapter that resonates with me the most is Dropping the Struggle to Know. I have a strong tendency towards intellectualization. The intellectual mind, the desire to know can stand in the way of true connection. The rational desire to know can be an impediment to where we are supposed to be. Housden talks about suddenly waking up and realizing that he was going to move to the United States and gave up every connection he had because he suddenly knew it was the right thing to do.
In Zen, we call those moments of clarity Satori and the hardest thing is moving past them and understanding that like all other constructed things, they are transitory. Uchiyama Roshi called the Satori moment opening the hand of thought, his book of the same name explores the concept in detail and I can’t recommend that enough.
Housden’s book is very personable. The other chapters are just as good, but I don’t want to ruin the whole thing for you. Many times in reading it, I thought of Karen Maezen Miller‘s work as he has some very humble and gritty moments. It also brought to the mind the Buddhist adage sweep the dust, push the dirt which refers to an ancient tale of one of the Buddha’s followers who achieved enlightenment through his manual labor which undid the constructed self for that disciple.
I recommend you buy Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Love the Life You Have by Roger Housden at your local bookshop and experience this very gentle introduction to the Buddhist idea of attachment for yourself.