Truth of Life

April 8, 2013

Since the moment of our birth till the present, we set many goals. Some of those goals have been achieved, but we continue to pursue others despite the consequences they could bring. The pursuit of worldly accomplishment will never end, because what we want is really an inner state of peace of happiness that does not come from the outside. The world of duality does not work like a fairy tale in which the prince and princess live happily ever after.

Everlasting happiness comes from the realization of the truth about life.

Each moment, the thought that comes forth in your mind will be perceived as correct and accurate. This is the nature of our thought pattern. However, it does not mean the content of your thought–the ideas and concept–is right. You can believe in one thought and later question it, but your questioning, as a new thought, again becomes the belief you pursue. Thus, we live in the perpetual cycle in which we take each thought to be true and correct.

If we set aside religion, what is there for a human being to do? What is there to believe, and what will you believe? What is the purpose of your life? As living beings, we can have thoughts, and thoughts change constantly. The physical body changes constantly, too. The entire world changes continuously. It is all part of what we call impermanence, which is inevitable. Because everything is subject to constant change, you have two choices in each moment: to make yourself change for the better or allow yourself to become worse?  However, you have just one purpose: to transform your life–including the situation you inhabit right now–for the better. This is the only thing a human being can do. No matter what religion or belief you have, the only path is to make yourself better and better in every single moment. It is an inescapable fact of life, called impermanence. No one, not even the Buddha, can escape it.

Everything we do in life should be for the purpose of improving ourselves. Why do we go to school to learn things? So we can then become better people. Why do you go to a monastery or a church? You do so in order to become a better person. I became a Buddhist because I studied and learned about Buddhism. What was my purpose in becoming a Buddhist? The purpose was not simply to become one. The real purpose was to become a better person.

Reality changes constantly, and every day the world is different. It is impossible to know whether a world war will break out tomorrow. As reality continues to change, we too must change. We can do this because the true nature of the mind is a hundred percent flexible. Look at yourself honestly, though. Right now, your personality and view of reality–the jail of the mind–are stubborn. We define people and things, just as we define everything. These definitions function like the walls of a jail cell, isolating us from what is true. This means the ever-changing reality is always in conflict with your mind’s habitual pattern, which is not flexible enough to accept reality as it is.

When we have anger, when we experience depression,  that means we do not want to accept the reality. However, anger and depression—and any habitual thinking—cannot change reality from what it is. There is always a gap between reality and the habitual thought pattern that tries to redefine the reality. If we do not remove the habitual pattern, we will be trapped between those two opposing forces. The consequences of such an existence are pain and misery.

It is a Zen saying that “the most wonderful mind is like water.” Water can fit into a bottle; water can fit into a river; water can fit into a sewer line; and water can fit into anything. The reality is like water, because it is flexible. If you can make your mind flexible, life will be happier and more enjoyable.

Despite having the potential to be like water, we tend to rely on habitual thought patterns. I create my own pattern, which is based on my experience. However, no habitual thought pattern can properly handle everything that happens. There is a persistent gap between us and reality, and we cannot change our reality.

The only way to change reality is to first accept reality as it is. This is the first step. Usually, we accept our definition of reality but do not accept the true reality. Once we realize that our time-worn habitual pattern does not work–that it’s a vicious, repeating cycle of suffering–we want to be free of it. Once we get a brief glimpse of a higher state, we realize that it is infinitely preferable to our routine, painful existence. Once we see that the tool we use–our habitual pattern–has failed to achieve the goal of happiness, we can let go of attachment to our old thoughts and emotional habits.

One could say that life is cruel, just as life is practical. If you simply want but do not know how to create the life you want, the problems you have faced will return endlessly. You must know what a real life is. You have to see the purpose in your life, or you will be like the blind man who must choose his way at the crossroads. So, you must be honest and introspective. You must face yourself. If you have been right all along, why do you continue to experience so much misery? Why must you continue to suffer now, if you have already suffered in the past? Have you no means to correct the situation? Obviously, you are not always right. If you continue to think, “I am so right,” subconsciously you will believe it. You create a gap between what is true and what you imagine the truth to be.

Remember, thoughts, emotions and feelings are merely tools. You are the one who wields them, so you must master them. After all, who can generate thoughts? You can. Who can generate emotions? You can. If you have taken up wrong tools, put them down immediately because they will ruin your life!

Fundamentally we are free, because the mind is formless. However, out of this formless mind we create a thought pattern and become attached to it. This attachment prevents us from experiencing freedom, so we blind ourselves to the freedom that is already within us. Remember that you are the master of your life. You are the master of your thoughts and feelings, just as you are the warden of the jail within your mind. If you set aside your negative emotions, you will find it is much easier to change your thoughts. Set down the negativity, and positive thoughts will arise in the mind.

You can have a new life, in which you have mastery over thought and emotion. It is essential to realize that you are not what you have always assumed yourself to be. You are much bigger than what you think. You are not simply your thoughts, so fear and suspicion cannot define you. You are not merely your emotions, so anger and sadness cannot control you. You are not just your feelings, so you do not have to respond as they would dictate. Each of us is given the same set of tools, and each of us must use them, or otherwise be used by them. Do not let habitual patterns define reality. Instead, accept the reality that comes from the source of life, and your life will flow like a river of joy.