Often in my seminars and events someone asks, “Why…?” this or the other frustrating is happening in his or her life. The Buddhists among us have quite a clear answer to that question, citing the First Noble Truth, “There is suffering and impermanence in life for all beings.” Not being a Buddhist, although I do have great sympathy for the wisdom that this tradition brings, this is not an answer I prefer, and that is because I am not thoroughly convinced that life – our being in this world – actually is suffering. Neither do I believe that impermanence is a reason or cause of suffering.
The question ‘Why?’ is always also a question where the unliked or frustrating happening comes from, and often it is a request for a reasonable explanation for what is happening to me or us. And, of course, a good answer then gives us a meaning that we can attach to what is happening. This, it is supposed will give us an opportunity or the means by which we can avoid this unpleasant thing or happening in the future (and maybe does).
Whatever may be the case, we cannot avoid the fact that what is happening to us in daily life is… already happening; it is the case – whatever the meaning might be that we give it (even if a ‘good’ meaning might be helpful in dealing with its consequences). Seeing that this is so I am bold enough here to tell you ‘Mushins First Noble Truth’: “What is happening is already the case.” Or to put it more flippantly, “Reality, as I am experiencing it, doesn’t care what I think about it.” And this leads us to ‘Mushins Second Noble Truth’: “What I think about what is already the case determines very much wether I suffer or not.” So it is up to me – in many ways – how happy or unhappy daily life is in my case.
What does that mean for my spiritual practise?
Let’s assume that I meet someone that says something hurtful to me or that something frustrating is happening to me. My First Noble Truth informs me, “This is already happening – regardless of whether I want this to happen or not. And I perceive this happening as hurtful or frustrating. I can accept it, supress it or try to change it, but so much is true: It is happening/has happened and I feel bad.”
If I am adequatly awake . and maybe the frustration has awakend me from my dreamlike state – I will pause. That means the automatic chain of judging (“this is frustrating”) and feeling bad and reacting (I justify myself, fight or try to escape) has been broken.
Now I have created enough space to undo my judgement (that I ‘automatically’ had) or regard it as not very adequate to the occasion. In this space also the ‘bad’ feeling loses power so that I can now accept and possibly ‘study’ it: How does it feel – exactly? Where does it manifest on the bodily level?
And I have another possibility in the space I created: I can – as this feeling (or with this feeling) – open to what is happening. Now my feelings don’t seperate me anymore from what’s going on – it doesn’t serve as protection, justification or whatever anymore – but rather connects me to what is the case right now. I don’t recoil or cramp up but rather loosen up and relax into what is the case.
In opening to this moment – just as I am feeling and experiencing it; just the way I am right now – I don’t need a ‘why’ or ‘whence’ or ‘where will it lead’ anymore; what is appropriate to this moment opens itself to me spontaneously. The moment of crisis showers its entire richess on me, and I can live it in relationship.
And so the way has become the goal…
PS.: We still have a few places free in the summer-event “Opening the Cosmic Heart” – July 1st untill 9th – and I would be delighted to see you there.