Giving Up Clinging to the Past

The greatest lesson I have learnt from the Buddhists (..no am not a Buddhist myself) is this:

“At the heart of all suffering and pain is desire“.

After meditating and pondering this for almost four years I have also found by experience its complement, which I state as:

“All the suffering or pain in our lives comes from either desire, or its close cousin … aversion”

Yeah like someone said …”screwed if you do, screwed if you don’t” ie when you desire something and don’t get it … the result is suffering or pain. On the other hand, when you are averse to something and it does happen, you get the same pain and suffering.

A similar dynamic plays out in our relationship with time … for most of us, we go from worrying about the future (either that we won’t get something owe desire or something we are averse to will happen) to reminiscing the past (for the good things that did happen) or regretting it (for the bad ones that did happen)

Well if we think of it …either one of those mindsets is only bound to bring us pain. Not that it isn’t a good thing to think of good times though, sometimes I find myself in strange places amongst strangers that the only thing I summon to keep my spirits high is the image of Perpetua’s smile.

Of recent, I have caught myself in that dangerous mode … specifically trying to sustain dead or dying friendships, conjuring up to the present a past that once was great but is no more. I remember in my dark days I used to have a policy of going through my phone to DELETE the number of anyone I had called thrice who had never called me back. Back then, the motivating feeling was anger … but now that I have resumed that practice, it’s one of detachment, letting go. I still care about those people, after all they were once great parts of my life …but I choose to let them be, with their new friends and priorities and I ACCEPT THAT I AM NOT ONE OF THOSE PRIORITIES.

So if we should not desire or be averse, what then should we be? … The answer for me has been to SAVOUR the moment. This moment right here, devoid of all my desires and aversions that are yet to materialize, this moment is the ONLY thing I have any real experience and claim to. An by being mindful, I choose to live  and savour it by…

  • Letting the act of kindness happening in front of me fill my heart with love and my brain with serotonin.
  • Counting each of the lavenders, bougainvilleas, wild tomatoes and lemon grass blades that smile and sing to me as I jog in the morning.
  • Letting the glorious melodies and lyrics of whatever song I am listening to lift my spirits.
  • Reveling in and bursting with admiration for the creativity in the painting, the movie , the dance, the football moves et ..

And with all that I hope that by not clinging to the past or the future, I will not ruin the great present of the present moment which I have NOW.

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“Your Children Are NOT Your Children”

Ever heard it said that what you think of increases in your life? I first came across this poem while reading “The Fifth Discipline” by Peter Senge and it it was just so beautiful time literally stopped. Here it i:

Your Children are not Your Children

by Kahlil Gibran

Your Children are not Your Children

They are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.

They come through you but not from you,

And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,

For they have their own thoughts.

You may house their bodies but not their souls,

For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you. For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.

The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.

Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;

For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so He loves also the bow that is stable.

All I can pray for is that I will have the strength to let my own children be, to learn from them and not ruin their lives by trying to force my own unfulfilled dreams on them. Sometines, while see a 3 year old girl with heavy make-up and some super-complicated hair (which is often beautiful) but I ask myself … “Does this little girl care about all this? or is it just the mother trying to make a statement?”.

This seems to contrast the Bible’s message to

“bring up a child in the path he should follow, and when he grows, he will not depart from it” .

Problem is, even when we are parents, some of us are still very lost, living lives devoid of some higher purpose, in pursuit of material wealth and all the other vanities that we use to define our existence, we really should not be giving a path to our children. BUT we can give them the gift of a few undeniable principles — the value of hard work, of humility, of service to others, of gratitude and integrity and if we do a good job of modelling those virtues ourselves, then we can let them use those principles to make their own paths and God won’t judge us for what paths they choose, for we would have done our part as the Bow.

I think I’ll go get myself a copy of “The Prophet”