The point of life, is life

The point of life, is life. It is a gift. That is all. Make the most of it. Make as much or as little of it as you can, or want.

Running in circles between being in form, and knowing formlessness,
between attaching to frivolous things, and knowing that frivolous things (samsara) are momentary and therefore sources of pain and dissatisfaction, can lead to a sense of nihilism.

Why live? Why do anything? Does anything matter? Why work hard? Why work at all? Why try to do good? Why try to change things? Why care so much about climate change that it is wounding the soul?

Because life matters very much, and not at all.

Because climate change matters tremendously, and not at all.

Because everything matters, and nothing matters.

Because everything that exists is momentary, and this is just how it is right now. Tomorrow, in a thousand years, it will all change.

All of this has happened before. All of it will happen again.

So, here’s life. A cosmic joke: we exist, we are caught up in existence’s own projection of an idea of permanence where none exists. It’s a paradox. Existence is not permanent, therefore it does not exist. It is only ever a momentary dream.

And so with life.

You can bury yourself in that hole of nihilism.

Or you can see that ultimately what really matters does not matter at all.

Holding every care lightly, having sincerity but no care in the world. Jesus’ birds of the field.

The point of life is just life. Enjoy it, and enjoy the joke.

Racket body pain

In psychology (Transactional Analysis), there is a concept called ‘racket feelings’ or ‘racket thoughts’. The idea goes that certain situations in life will invite us to recollect (and relive) feelings and thoughts from the past. In other words, we are invited to racket-ball all the way back to something that happened, say, twenty years ago, just because something that is happening right now has enough signals in it to remind us of that past feeling or thought. (This is a very rough description, and nothing beats reading a few book chapters on the subject. ‘Racket moments’ rely on another concept, called ‘scripting’, which I won’t go into here.)

As I’ve been going deeper into recovery, and getting used to avoiding more and more ‘racket thoughts’ when they surface, I have made what I think could be a new discovery. Racket moments do not just extend to thoughts and emotions. They extend to physical conditions, too.

Here are some of my racket body pains:

– Hunched shoulders deriving from early teens when growing bigger felt awkward

– One shoulder usually higher than the other deriving from a paper round I used to do

– Bad posture derived from low self-esteem

I have also learnt through meditation and mindfulness that:

– Mindfulness can assist me to let go of these old body pains

– There is nothing that is broken that can not be healed over time.

The great disruption

Let’s today step out of the normal boundaries of analysis of our economic crisis and ask a radical question: What if the crisis of 2008 represents something much more fundamental than a deep recession? What if it’s telling us that the whole growth model we created over the last 50 years is simply unsustainable…(Read more)

Enlightened does mean free to experience life

For much of my adult life so far, I realise, I have not been present in it. Now that I have had my ‘sudden awakening’, my moment of zen, I can see this.

It’s like I was always caught up in a mental story. Most of it was about worrying about the future; so much so that I would often miss out on experiencing what was going on around me. Even miss out on conversations. Present in the room, but not present mentally within myself or with others.

I have read enough to understand that this behaviour is extremely common, and would suggest that it can be more common in those who have experienced a lot of stress or hardship in life.

It would be easy to feel pain about this; as though I have been deprived of experiencing life. Cheated. But feeling pain about it is exactly the sort of absent-minded activity that caused the absence in the first place; it does not help me to stay present today, in the moment. Therefore, I choose not to feel pain about it.

Today I have learned that what Buddhists call ‘dependent arising’, or ‘attachment to the samsaric world’ of things, possessions, relationships, is a liberating thing to be free from.

For a while I have been scared that to remove myself from any attachment to experience in the samsaric world is a cloaked form of the same old absence from experiencing life. I have been afraid of non-attachment, feeling as though it is some kind of religious instruction denying me yet again from living my life. It seemed to threaten me with another form of experiential denial, just like my mental stories did before.

But I have learned that it is not a negative thing at all. Not a religious instruction, but a suggestion of something that might help tremendously and wonderfully. It is a beautiful thing. It is the perfect way to be. It harnesses the potential for, ultimately, an egoless sense of immortality. And… it requires presence.

Experiencing what is happening right now, and responding skillfully to that, is non-attachment. Being properly and fully present – genuinely here fully in the moment – it is not possible to attach to things. Dependent arising becomes impossible. Attachment or dependent arising require a mental story. They require time – a past and a future. A mental sense of time does not exist when you are present in now.

Non-attachment is not another form of mental absence, or denying myself to really feel experiences and enjoy myself. (Permission to enjoy myself please…) It is the very way to go deeper into life, and into now.

Or putting it back the other way; presence in the now results in non-attachment at the same time as liberating me to experience what is going on right now in life.

This is hard, and also very easy at the same time. It is hard to stay present. It takes practice and a lifetime. But it is also a lot simpler and easier than ‘trying’ to detach myself religiously from everything. ‘Trying’ is another mental game. Another version of mental absence. Trying so hard to be enlightened that I am missing enlightenment.

And so another block on the path has been removed.