We live in a civilization that is preoccupied with things, or in its basic form, thoughts. We are always running towards the next thing to do, to have, to achieve. We don’t treasure the present moment because we believe that the next moment will bring us fulfillment, joy, or happiness. But when the next moment arrives, we find that it is not enough, that something is missing. Or we discover that something or someone comes to disrupt the moment and we are left wishing for a different outcome. We don’t want what we have, and we want what we don’t have. This affliction has led us to suffering, despair, nervous breakdown, even death.
How can we free ourselves of this useless, self-defeating attitude? We start by being friendly with the present moment, no matter what it brings–whether it is a screaming customer, a crying child, an argumentative co-worker, a scheming relative, a dying mother. We watch the situation and let it play out without any thought or comment. We cease to identify with the stories and forms that come with the situation and so we are not drawn into the tears, the stress, the drama, the frustration. We surrender to suffering, loss, despair, even death. This act of surrender frees us from our entanglement with forms so that our formless, beautiful spirit is released. This spirit is a vast, loving, dynamic, infinite, all-loving, all-knowing presence. It burns up the negative energy that was swirling around the situation and turns it into something pure and wonderful. We discover that death or suffering is life’s way of stripping us of illusions so we can realize the true essence of our being. We open ourselves to life and are able to connect with every being without any attachment. We know that forms come and go but our real self is timeless and will live forever. As Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote in The Little Prince, “Perfection is finally attained not when there is no longer anything to add but when there is no longer anything to take away.”
This post is dedicated to my beloved mother, who passed away peacefully on Thanksgiving, 11/28/13. This one’s for you, Mommy!