Love in the time of anxiety

les-attaches-pantofole

We embody values and practices that offer us meaningful lives now. We let go of needing to impact the future.*

We were speaking, the other day, of the illusions under which human beings labour including the illusion we have a fixed character which is more or less authentic.

Another illusion is our relation to the past and future. We think our lives are given by our past: our family, education, socio-economic group, country, cohort, experiences and so on. Yet, it is the future that is giving us our lives.

The future we’re living into gives us our experience of life in the present.

It’s easy to demonstrate this.

Think about your experience of life when you have a holiday ahead of you, then think about your experience of life when you have a holiday behind you. Generally, they will be two different experiences of life, each of which is given by the future we see coming at us.

For many human beings the future they see coming at them is one of old age which translates to “decline”, “suffering”, “loneliness”, “physical debilitation”, “loss of independence” and so on. Not surprisingly, the experience of life this gives in the present is not a happy one.  It is an experience of life full of anxiety, fear and resistance to what is.

In this situation, what human beings normally try to go to work on is the future. They see a bleak future coming at them and strive mightily to change or fix the future.

This is futile. There is no access there.

The one access we have to life is the present. And if you think this is like winning the booby prize in a raffle, think again. Not only is it the one access, it is the access that works.

Consider this. What works is to invent a context or possibility that gives you power, freedom and self-expression right now, in the present, and the future will take care of itself.

To say it another way: when we invent plans and possibilities and schemes that excite and move us, their value does not lie principally in the future, in whether or not they succeed or fail. Their value lies in the experience of life they give us now, in the present.

*

* Margaret J Wheatley, “A Path for Warriors”, So Far From Home: Lost and Found in Our Brave New World

Image: by Cerise Doucede

If you enjoyed this post …

If you enjoyed this post, you may also enjoy:

Advertisements

15 thoughts on “Love in the time of anxiety

  1. Wonderful sketch of Anatta ( not self) the state of ultimate happiness. The illusion of self keeps us tied in misery. Off course “MY” is the mighty sprawling rope that we use for wrapping.
    much metta!!!!

    Like

      • I see we only see the other side of the coin…..the side which had kept tied…We have mastered the art of creating misery out of nothing.

        It seems that we are always busy making our life look and feel important. When we explain what we do, it is always special and different, because we are special and different. Our job descriptions change even when the work is the same. We obtain certificates and papers to say how clever, talented or intelligent we are, but actually, we are the same as everyone else. Our life is filled with meaningless tasks and duties, and because they are meaningless and we know it, we make them important, firstly to ourselves and then others. We show how we have some special skill or ability, or how we need special equipment or special training, and that no-one else can do what we do. It’s what we show to the world, but it’s just nonsense.
        It’s just ego and it’s just life.
        Some things are easier than others, some things are more difficult than others, but in the end, it’s just life. When you forget this, you suffer. You feel inadequate and so always feed the need to explain and justify what you do. So don’t empower this feeling, because that’s just ego, and only ego suffers. Remember that what is truly important in life is not competition or being superior and showing something special in front of others, but only sharing your beautiful self with the world. Sharing your love, compassion and joy.
        Do what you do, don’t explain it, don’t justify it, don’t try to show something special or make a point, just do it and enjoy.
        May all beings be happy.

        Like

      • Well said, Vijay.

        There is so much “looking good/avoiding looking bad”, as we say at Landmark. I remember too Goenkaji talking about the little image we make — I immediately pictured a little doll that we carried around with us — and this made me laugh because he spoke with his beautiful wryness about how we tend to this little image.

        I like your words very much …”Remember that what is truly important in life is not competition or being superior and showing something special in front of others, but only sharing your beautiful self with the world. Sharing your love, compassion and joy.”

        Like

  2. A great reminder. I especially like your statement:

    “To say it another way: when we invent plans and possibilities and schemes that excite and move us, their value does not lie principally in the future, in whether or not they succeed or fail. Their value lies in the experience of life they give us now, in the present.”

    Because the key is to continue to focus on valuing the now experience rather than questioning the venture based on a view of the future. This is a huge challenge because just about everything in our culture is geared up to judge the now based on expected pleasure or pain (economic or otherwise) in the future. But it’s also paradoxical because although we value present experiences based on the future, our behaviour is in no way gauged to make the future a better place.

    This post is going to make me think a lot.

    Like

    • You got it, about our culture being geared up to judge the now based on the expected pleasure or pain in the future. And it’s not only judging the now, it’s creating the now.

      It’s a highly subtle, highly paradoxical point as you note. What blows me away is that our experience of life — the freedom, joy, satisfaction, contribution of our existence — hangs by this oh-so-subtle thread.

      On one side, this subtle subtle point; on the other, a culture consumed, stricken, with fear of the future.

      Like

  3. My today is made of yesterdays, because yesterday today was my tomorrow. I did some work on making today better by not ruining yesterday and today I also worked a bit on tomorrows good day coming. I must admit it was todays joy in working well that made “both” today a good day, and tomorrow not tainted from lack of attention.
    I think all my days are actually just one viewed from different positions. “My” is not so much a rope for me as it is a sliding ring around a rope that is!

    Like

    • Your example is a good one, and it works with my view too.

      My view is that our today is made of tomorrows (and that the past has nothing to do with it).

      As you say yourself, the satisfaction of work done today gave you a good future (“a tomorrow not tainted”). When did it give you a good future? Why, now, in the present.

      Like

      • yes, that seems to be right, just as long as we also do take care of today with regard to tomorrow as it becomes today too, not just planning for tomorrow, but respecting it enough to see today correctly. That is all built on yesterday of course.
        Isn’t this all fun indeed?

        Like

Your comment will be an adornment to this blog ...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s