Let us pray. For what? Peace on earth or a trouble-free life? Perhaps you’ve realised, as I have, the futility of hope for some future happiness, or maybe cling to the belief that things will get better in time.
The most powerful desire underneath the many superficial desires is to discover a sense of completion – something permanent and unwavering. Everyone is born with the impulse to make some kind of contribution to humanity, even those who appear to be in revolt against the whole system.
The striving for power and prestige to reach the summit of worldly success is the motivating force behind the progressive drive of western civilisation. But the world is stacked against anyone who thinks they can succeed for more than one fleeting moment before what was achieved collapses back to nothing. Everything else, no matter what’s accomplished, is doomed to perish and be forgotten.
‘What was it all about?’ is the question every ambitious man or woman eventually asks, often on their death bed. As I act and identify as though I’m just a physical body, I’ll always fear the approach of death and never really come to life, even though still embodied on the earth.
Is this the height of pessimism and the denial of all that’s right and indicative of the human spirit? No, just the opposite. It’s the recognition that to come to life I, whoever I am, must face the unbearable truth – that I alone am responsible for my life. This means that any emotional pain or conflict I feel, or carry within as hurts and resentments, is created by the consequences of my own ignorance and avoidance of the good. Unless I can confront my self and be responsible for my life, then all that I endeavour to achieve in the world will be in vain.
Living is the process of learning to die to the pain and suffering of an unconscious way of life. This begins as a conscious departure from the known when belief in the world is seen to be an impossible dream. I must not evade the pain of existence which has attached me to the false identification with the material world. I must, if I am willing, bear the pain of my own disillusionment. This is the greatest agony of all. In stillness and humility I must be willing to surrender my most precious possession: my self. No saviour will do it for me. And yet, the justice and rightness of it cannot be denied.
It’s the dilemma only I can resolve.
Image: Lukasz Szmigiel