often do we find ourselves rejecting something simply because
we fear it may not last? Can we instead simply be happy with
it for as long as it lasts? I found myself asking this
question when after a very long time, I began to feel healthy.
I was sleeping better, feeling joyous and energetic and
looking better.But instead of enjoying this muchlonged- for
state, I kept distrusting its longevity. I finally decided
that no matter how little it lasted, I would enjoy it, and be
grateful for it.
This attitude is probably one of the keystones to a happy and
contented life – the willingness to simply enjoy the moment,
and not pine for it to last for keeps.William Blake was
probably referring to it when he talked about ‘kissing joy
as it flies’ as a solution to living ‘in eternity’s
If we can see life as moments strung one after another in
eternity’s chain, we will have no problem
accepting the ephemeral joys of life. Children do that all the
time. So immersed are they in the immediate joy of playing
cricket, watching a movie, or eating an ice-cream that they
rarely fast forward to a time when it will not be there. When
the time does come, they simply absorb themselves in whatever
else confronts them. We, however,
victims of the thinking mind, can never be so simple or
essential. Fear, worry, doubt and distrust poison whatever
innocent sources of pleasure may come our way. A friend of
mine who leads a blessed life wondered aloud to me that surely
her happiness was too good to last?
Maybe so, but so what? All the more reason to enjoy it, I
should think.What a simple logic, really, but how difficult to
attain. The reason is, we are too afraid of pain. The supreme
irony is that we poison our present happiness by our fear of
future pain. Isn’t it amazing? How right the sages were,
especially the Buddha, when they pinpointed our oscillation
between craving for pleasure and aversion to pain as our
fundamental spiritual dilemma. The more we crave the pleasure,
the more we resist its inevitable dissolution and the onset of
less pleasant situations and sensations. Every moment is
poisoned because running through each is our anxiety about
what awaits us next.
fall in love but how fraught each moment is with fear lest our
love is not returned, lest it be fleeting, lest our parents
not accept the situation, lest our neighbours gossip, and so
on.We are happily ensconced in a wonderful job, but the
financial anxiety that has spread over the land digs its
tentacles deep into our contentment, and sends us biting our
fingernails under our bed covers at night.
What is the solution to this problem?
The willingness to accept pain.How on earth can we get there?
A long tutorial in practicing awareness and acceptance of
one’s state of mind will definitely help. An immersion in
the Buddha’s truth, “This too will pass” is also
mandatory. Everything that arises will pass away. The truth
can plunge a dagger into our heart. What, our love for
parents, children, to pass away? Our health and wealth to pass
away? If, however,we can survive the revelation and accept its
reality gracefully,we will achieve this wonderful
of staying stable in the present moment and accepting and
experiencing its delights and pains. Another insight that will
help us achieve this balance is to recognise that pain is one
of the most effective of teachers and is rich with rewards if
we grasp it firmly and without flinching.
Surrender too is a wonderful tool for achieving equanimity.
The recognition that it is God who runs our lives and that our
puny worry, fear and resistance will not change the wheels of
fate one whit, but in fact will hasten its onset, can help us
to stay in the moment. If we can only pass on our worries to
the Higher Power and rest
in whatever is sent our way, we will find ourselves more easy
in the ever slippery present moment.
As our culture disintegrates into ever greater chaos and
uncertainty, we will need this ability to live in the present
moment and to readily let it slip into the next with
equipoise. Then, even though disasters and catastrophes swirl
and twirl around us, we can stay still, like a very Buddha,
smiling and breathing deeply.
Bliss is never in the circumstance, it is in the moment