Buddhists say that all of our struggles stem from being confused about the nature of reality. When we struggle with loss, it’s because we want reality to be different than it is, more permanent, more like our Mind Movie. When we procrastinate, it’s because we are avoiding the discomfort of groundlessness and want to find comfort, putting our comfort before all else.
Also, when we’re frustrated with others, it’s because we see things as a story with ourselves at the center. All of these are misguided notions of what reality is like, but if we stop to see what’s really in front of us, these struggles can go away.
Related: Seven Ways to Relax Our Struggles
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Some things to reflect on about reality:
The true nature of life is change, impermanence. We struggle with that when someone dies, when we get sick, when we lose a job or a relationship changes … but if we can accept this impermanence and embrace it, life becomes less of a struggle.
Impermanence can be beautiful, like the gorgeousness of a plum blossom as it falls to its death. Each moment is fleeting, dewlike, and beautiful, to be cherished. And then a new beautiful moment arrives to be appreciated after that, a never-ending ever-changing stream.
We’re not separate.
As we saw in one of our articles, with practice, we can merge our consciousness into our experience, so that difficult feelings (for example) aren’t something to avoid … because we become a part of them. We become our entire experience. Separation vanishes, and there isn’t a “me” to be afraid for, a “me” to defend from others, a “me” to put above all else, because we’re a part of the flow of life. This takes a while to see, as you practice meditation, so don’t expect this to click right away.
We’re not at the center.
We tend to see our Mind Movies with ourselves at the center of the story — I know I do, all the time. When I’m frustrated with someone, it’s because they’re not doing what I want, not treating me the way I want to be treated.
But this frustration can be dropped if we learn to remove ourselves from the center of the story, learn to detach from the story itself. What is the alternative? To turn to the moment in front of us and see it as it is, without the story, without the ideals of the Mind Movie.
To see that we’re just a part of everything, not at the center. And, to see that other people are caught up in their stories, and don’t have us at the center of their stories. To learn to love them for that, and love serving others instead of only ourselves. This love and being a part of something is much less of a struggle, and we find ourselves more at peace.
It has basic goodness.
Not everyone will agree, but I’ll just share what I’ve seen in my investigations: there’s a basic goodness in each moment, underneath all of our struggles with groundlessness. We obscure this goodness with our stories, but if we can just open up to it, we can see it.
As Pema Chodron says, “Through meditation practice, we realize that we don’t have to obscure the joy and openness that is present in every moment of our existence. We can awaken to basic goodness, our birthright.”
It’s beautiful, to be appreciated.
If there’s beauty in the impermanence and basic goodness of life, it’s also fleeting. At the end of my life, I’d like to say that I paid attention and appreciated the life that I was given. That I noticed its beauty, the true nature, and that I wasn’t asleep the whole time.
We can aspire to love.
When we take all of this in, the question becomes “how should I act?” And for me, the answer has been “love.” If I aspire to love, if I put this at the forefront of my intentions and actions, I am happier. I act in a way that is whole-hearted, authentic, passionate, and compassionate. I don’t always succeed, but it’s what I aspire to.
None of these facets of the true nature of life are easily seen, and it can take a lot of practice to see them and to remember them in daily life. Like anything, we get better with repeated practice.