The Joy of Un-encumbrance

Sometime after his legendary appointment with Mara under the Bodhi Tree (Ficus religiosa), when the Buddha was finally coaxed to speak, he mentioned something in Pāḷi that has since been translated as ‘Life is suffering’.

I think a better way to convey the subtlety of his insight might be ‘Physicality is an encumbrance’. This is to say that the entirety of what can be found through the lens of corporeal being, be it wonderful or horrible, are still modes of suffering or to put a fine point on it, existential discontent.

If we attempt to live joyfully within the field of all that can be felt, we must also relent to all that is not joyful. Opting for one idealized state to be more formidably present in your life isn’t going to work.

So what would freedom from encumbrance look like, be like, feel like?

Curiously we need look no further than here. Despite the Buddha’s fatalistic proclamation, whatever this is, it is already unencumbered. It is foolish to curate a museum of lies and rules and practices that aim away from what is already present.


Mind, body, and behavioral control agendas can never reveal the inherency and joy of unencumbrance, they’re already symptomatic of a grand magic trick that infers existential autonomy, which is the mother of all illusions.When you find yourself relieved of the monotony and familiarity of yourself, empty of want or purpose, without the slightest need to confirm or conform. Then you can see the novelty of all that arises free from the impulse to categorize or project meaning, you sense the non-specific joy of unencumbrance.

Without context or content what can bind you? If you grant yourself permission you can ride this effortless euphoria all the way to now.

Everything else is optional.

— paraphrased and edited by from Night Sky Sangha

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