So, I just thought I’d share a few things I’ve been reflecting on recently.
The first is the concept of basic goodness. This goodness isn’t meant to be a sort of judgement of experience, as in good vs bad. Instead, it’s is the experience of everything and every situation in life being basically functional and workable. We have our bodies, our minds and hearts, that despite their many flaws and weaknesses, allow us to move and think and feel and experience the world around us. And in this world, there are all the amazing and complex systems of nature, as well as our societies, communities and families; again, its not that these systems are perfect or essentially ‘good’ in a moral kind of way. We all know there are many problems and flaw and difficulties in this life. But, it all functions and continues to survive, and these systems help us to engage with the people and creatures and events around us. We are so fortunate to be able to exist in this universe, to perceive all the wonders of the natural world, and to have relationships with other human beings on this planet.
For me, this also connects to another idea I recently read somewhere, although I can’t remember where I found it. But basically, its that we should engage with all situations and experiences in life as if we’ve chosen them. I like this because, first of all, it means we don’t take the mindset of being a victim. We are not the pawns of fate and we shouldn’t spend much time (if we spend any at all!) feeling sorry for ourselves. If we take on the surprises, challenges, problems and beautiful experiences of life as if they are conditions and situations we ourselves have chosen, then we take a more active approach to our lives. Because at the end of the day, its up to us to decide if we will live with an open heart and celebrate this life, or if we will live shut off from the world and fail to truly live the life we have in front of us.
This is something I try to keep in mind and reflect on from time to time. Its easy to feel off-centre in life, to feel like you’re just rushing around trying to hold everything together and to feel like your life is dominated by ‘shoulds’ and ‘musts’ that we impose on ourselves or that others impose upon us. I know this year, with all its exciting changes and new jobs and new homes and new situations, has sometimes overwhelmed me. Even when things are generally positive, sometimes the amount of movement and energy and change sweeps me up and carries me far away from myself! Then one day I realize it and wonder where the heck I’ve ended up!
Then I know its time to take a deep breath, think about the priorities of good mental, physical and emotional health, to remind myself again that this life and this moment are full of good things. That this day, with all its quirks and hiccups and worries as well as its joyful and beautiful elements, is the perfect day for letting go of fear and anxiety, for living well, loving well and experiencing all this life has to offer.
To paraphrase a quote by Chogyam Trugpa Rinpoche, we must hold the pain and sadness of this life in our hearts, and at the same time, the power and beauty of it’s basic goodness. Only then can we make a proper cup of tea! The pain and the beauty are two sides of the same coin, and when we are in touch with both of those elements of the human experience, we can live whole-heartedly in our daily lives. Pain and beauty are both gifts that teach us how to be more fully human, more fully alive.