Misha Shungen Merrill is the primary teacher for Zen Heart Sangha in Menlo Park and Woodside, California, as well as the guiding teacher for the Twining Vines Sangha of New York. She has been practicing Zen since 1984 and received Dharma Transmission (permission to teach) in 1998 in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, the founder of SanFrancisco Zen Center. Misha also teaches at Peninsula School in Menlo Park where she is the librarian. She resides in Woodside with her husband and four-footed friends.
This talk by Misha Merrill was given as part of the series “Eight Great Thoughts” (Anguttara Nikaya 8:30). Another possible title for this talk is “To Want What We Have.” As long as getting more is possible, however improbable, desire will arise to meet it. This brings us to the Four Noble Truths, where dukka or dissatisfaction can be seen as the distance between what we want and what actually is. When we become aware of this thirst, it creates possibility for change. Fewness of wishes, or wanting what we have, is fundamentally a combination of simplicity and renunciation.
Fewness of wishes is realizing that there is nowhere left to go but right here. Our wish is actually just to be present. It sounds simple, but is hard to do, because we are preoccupied with the future (i.e., worry) and we are rehashing the past (i.e., regret). Yet the only place that we are free of worry and regret is in this moment, right here, where there is nothing but what is.