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  • leonimcgough

You have an appointment with life - are you present?

Our biggest problem in life is that we perceive ourselves as separate from everything else. But as long as we perceive ourselves as separate, we suffer. We are constantly busy defining our "I", defining our boundaries and defending them. By doing this, we limit ourselves and lock ourselves in a box. We create a definition of "I" in contrast to everything else around us. Even though it's tight in our box and we're very constricted, it feels safe: we know the limits, we know who we are. "I'm like this, I like that, I can do that, I don't like that, I can't do that" etc. In fact, we do not only put ourselves in a box, but also everyone and everything around us. We know what that is, we know what he or she is like, how they are going to react. Everything is categorized and narrowed down with set definitions. The truth is that we are not separate, we never were and never will be. We are all manifestations of a common energy that doesn't start or end anywhere. Where is this "I" that we nurture and pamper, where does it come from and where is it going to? The little self, the definition of "I" that we create for ourselves is an illusion. Only through regular and persistent practice (meditation) do we really begin to internalize this. By that I mean not just understanding it rationally, but grasping it on a deeper level of experience and transforming it into our lives. The deeper one dives into the practice of meditation, the more the sense of separation dissolves and one begins to struggle less. Then we can accept life, the things that happen to us and the people we meet as they are, instead of getting angry because they don't meet our expectations. We slowly open the lid of our box, so to speak, and begin to venture out. We suddenly see that there are actually no limits and that all possibilities are open to us. We suffer because we want things to be different from how they are. We quarrel with our situation, our job, other people because they do not correspond to what the "I" that we have defined in our box wants and imagines. Everything around us moves, only we are trying to stop and hold on. This can not go well. Nothing in life stays the same, everything is constantly changing, and yet we try to grasp things and want them to be a certain way, rather than accept what is and flow with what life throws at us. We behave like a surfer trying to hold onto his board in the midst of the current of the waves instead of jumping up and surfing. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Our appointment with life is always in the present moment. And the meeting point of our date is right where we are right now."

We have to ask ourselves: Are we there? Are we really living our lives? Or do we spend most of our time dreaming of better times or fretting about what isn't how we want it to be? We have a very limited amount of time here in this world. Are we really here and can we manage to merge with what is instead of chasing after what we think should be? It's fascinating how dependent we are on our personal drama: No matter how wealthy, healthy and successful, we human beings always have a tendency towards dissatisfaction. It is a well-known phenomenon that people constantly create new situations in which they experience known patterns of suffering over and over again. It is the permanent confirmation of our definition of "I" through recurring patterns - whether they are "good" or "bad" for us. We define ourselves so much by our drama that we keep feeding it simply because we've gotten so used to it and we don't know who we are without it. We keep creating situations that confirm our drama. It's the drama that reinforces the walls of our box, and it's the drama that fools us into our supposed boundaries within which we feel safe. That's why we keep recreating it. Through regular meditation we can learn to perceive this mechanism and slowly dissolve it by realizing the limitlessness of the ego. Instead of being the victim of being controlled by the circumstances in our lives, we can slowly learn more and more to embrace the circumstances and ride the waves of life as they come. Suddenly we realize that it is so much more pleasant to just move with the flow. Of course things happen that are not pleasant, we meet people who hurt us. Our job or colleagues are stressing us out or things aren't going the way we imagined in relationships. Life is never easy, never uncomplicated and only pleasant. The question is: How do we deal with it? As long as we sit in our box and perceive everything around us as outside of ourselves, we are trapped within the confines of our little selves. I feel hurt, I don't want this, I can't do this. We are so self-centered that we become totally dependent on what we ourselves and others think of us. We are trapped in a concept of ourselves that is all thought and has no solid foundation. So we rob ourselves of the freedom to be new in each new moment, believing we know who we are and who or what is around us, living with the illusion of a defined I. We are the one who always fails or the one who always gets impatient. We know ourselves and our problems so well. But is that true? Do we really know? If you look at the whole thing on a cellular level, you realize that of course we never stay the same: No one today is the same as yesterday. Cells have renewed themselves, others have died, hair and fingernails have grown a little - we've gotten a little older. Nothing stays the same. And where in all this change should be this "I" that we hold on to so desperately, that is so important to us and that we care for so lovingly? Where is this "core" that always remains the same and does not change? Everything is constantly changing, including ourselves. When we manage to overcome our fear of the unknown, lift the lid of our box and climb out, we suddenly see it. We recognize the freedom we actually have. Every moment, every situation is new. There is always a new decision to be made, in which direction we are moving, how we are reacting. If we manage to perceive ourselves and everything around us as limitless, then we can flow freely with life and approach every situation anew and without burdening ballast from the past or worries about the future. When we allow ourselves to just BE, rather than having and fulfilling a concept of ourselves and everything around us, then we can truly live our lives, every moment anew. When we stop fighting with what is, with what or who we think we are, we become free and can give exactly what is needed at any moment and react exactly as the situation requires. We can truly live our lives moment by moment.

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