I was with a friend having conversation over a leisurely breakfast and our conversation drifted to considering how we fit in with life. We are so bombarded with everyday demands of life that we forget the larger picture. It seems to me life will continue with or without us; regardless of whether we are happy, wealthy, dead , alive , in a relationship, not in a relationship, like our job, hate our job, have friends, have no friends, holding grudges, whether we are compassionate or not compassionate. Further it has been long recognized by the Buddhist and others that life can be suffused with suffering even when our basic needs are more than sufficiently satisfied; usually because we want things differently than they actually are. We may want to be more beautiful, clever, richer, have a better relationship etc than what it is in actuality. This state of mind may make it seem as though we are wallowing in an ocean of suffering.
It seems to me there are so many things outside our control that it is silly to continue trying to effect change to that which is outside our control. This energy can best be deployed on self compassion. When we are compassionate towards ourselves about our own suffering we change our brain structure so that not only we are compassionate to ourselves but we are more compassionate to others. The act of showing compassion to others will generally give us a nice feeling but in addition our relationships improve, others are more generous and kind towards us and we are offered more opportunities in the world.
Unfortunately at times our society seems upside down to me. Especially when you hear people suing McDonald’s for sustaining a burn injury from spilling hot coffee over themselves. They seem to project their difficulty on to someone else and want them to make things better. Wouldn’t it have been better admitting that it was silly to be drinking very hot coffee whilst driving, after all coffee is meant to be served hot. Blaming and projecting our difficulty on to others produce not only harmful, toxic substances in our body but minimize the opportunity to see others in a compassionate way and reaping the benefits mentioned above. Blaming and projecting our difficulties on to others lay down different neuro-pathways which are very damaging to the mental and physical health.
So what is the ideal way of being in this world? I talked to some people who are happy and content, they tell me they have “meaning and purpose” from being in the “flow of life.” They seems to see life continuing whether they are here or not, they recognize we are fellow travellers on a journey of life, we are all trying to have a good life, we all want a healthy world to live in; so they engage in life with the view to serve life as a whole; it is a much bigger goal than accumulating stuff for themselves. They start first by cultivating a big container of self compassion for themselves and then giving freely and joyfully to “life-giving causes.” It is this engagement with life-giving process that gives them peace, comfort and joy; knowing that life will continue long after they are gone and that they have contributed to the process.