It may be human nature in general, I’m not sure, but I have noticed that many people only stop complaining about the small things when there are bigger things to complain about. This applies to me as much as anyone, so the intention is not to criticize, it’s merely an observation.
Are we hardwired to worry? Is this the inescapable burden of suffering that we are given during this human experience?
A big part of my spiritual growth the past several years has been learning to stop sweating the small stuff and allowing myself to enjoy life. Some of it involves letting go of the negativity that I grew up with. Though they did their best and most likely did much better than their own parents, my parents taught their kids that the world is basically an unsafe place and that everyone is a potential threat so it is necessary to be on guard constantly. Because of the physical abuse that was also a part of my experience, I am guarded a lot of the time and try to stay at least a step ahead of whatever could go wrong. My biggest obstacles in life have been overcoming a general lack of trust and having to fight my nature to stay in the present moment so I can experience joy.
It’s not that I think I am particularly unique in these ways. In fact, the more I learn about life, the more I discover we are all here to learn the same lessons, it’s all a matter of degree. Some of us have big lessons to learn and some of us have small ones. But they are the same in that ultimately we are all here to learn how to love as unconditionally as possible and how to live in harmony.
I have been listening to a lecture by Pema Chodron in which she comments on a chapter of the book The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva. It’s a book I have not read, but now feel that I must. Part of the chapter deals with developing bodhichitta, which though hard for me to describe fully, basically means having a sense of good will toward everything. This is such an important part of why I am on this planet and I wish to cultivate this quality in myself.
To the greatest degree possible, I wish to live the rest of my life doing as little harm as possible. That is not to say my intention has ever been to cause harm, it hasn’t, but until recent years I did not have a specific intention to do no harm.
The thing that most challenges me is keeping things in perspective, staying focused on the bigger picture, the grander scheme of things, while dealing with the minutiae of day-to-day reality. I believe I get better at it all the time, but it remains the most difficult thing I deal with. At least it gives me something to aspire to.
The bodhisattva vows to reincarnate until all souls are awakened. That is such a beautiful concept. To me it is the same as a savior who gives his life to pay for others’ sins.
I believe sins are merely mistakes we make when we don’t have the knowledge or ability to do any better.
Every time we choose to forgive, overlook a mistake, or treat someone with kindness and gentleness, we are saving each other. People are naturally hard on themselves. It comes from believing lies that have been around since the beginning of time. Nobody needs to have their flaws pointed out, but most people could use a little reassurance that they really are doing okay.
Those who find fault in others are looking outward for answers that can only be found within. Ultimately, we really are all looking for the same thing, love.
The great news is that we can help each other by developing the qualities of forgiveness, compassion, kindness and unconditional love.
I had to spend two years in near total solitude to figure some of this stuff out, but it has been the greatest gift I have ever received.
“Out of a shattered open heart springs a fountain of fiery sacred passion that will never run dry.” ~Rumi
Isn’t it ironic that the way to this place is through the dark valley of heartbreak?
We should all take a breather from worry and complaining about minutiae whenever possible. If we find more moments free of those things, the world will be a much more gentle place. It’s a strong argument for meditation and prayer.
It is my wish that more people find ways to set aside worry and find the joy in even the most mundane moments because, when you think about it, each one is truly a miracle.