Monday, September 9, 2013

The end of suffering...

Kanji for bitter or suffering

                The person you were yesterday is dead!

                This is an idea I try to keep in the back of my mind on a regular basis.  This is especially true for those of us who hold on to things and worry over them like a dog worries over its bone.  This simple idea has allowed me to, by and large, let go of the things I can’t control or at least the things I’ve done/said in the past that I can’t change now.  It’s a concept I’ve brought up occasionally but with the recent changes in my professional life it’s a concept I’ve had to embrace a little more closely.  We all do things or make mistakes we can’t undo completely.  We’ve all had those ‘if only I had done that’ moments as we’re driving home and some of us worry over the consequences of those words/actions just a little bit.  (or in my case, quite a lot) Those moments are when the idea of who I was being dead comes into play.

                This concept stems from the Buddhist teaching that ‘Life is suffering’.  I always wondered how relatively happy looking Buddhists could walk through life thinking that it sucked due to all of their suffering.  I read some books and looked into it a bit and discovered that it’s not life that suffers but rather it’s our view on life that makes it suffer.  So, as we drive home and worry over what we coulda/shoulda/woulda said to the jerk-off we just dealt with at the office we are in effect suffering.  Suffering sucks.  I hate doing it.  Actually, I hate worrying too.  It’s an energy suck.  It’s a time suck and it is very rarely productive.  I had a supervisor once who used to worry through every little issue we might deal with on a given day/event.  Having a propensity for the same thought process often times we would end up ‘brainstorming’ just how messed up things could get.  We’d get ourselves in a tizzy and become tired and irritated and depressed over how helpless we were.  We were suffering.  The day of the ‘issue’ would arrive and all the things we thought would happen actually wouldn’t and often times the day would turn out ok but our stress levels would be through the roof.  We’d spent days, weeks, and sometimes months worrying. We suffered. 

                But back on track…..

                If who I was yesterday is dead and I can’t change that person then why am I worrying?  We need to continue forward with our lives.  If we don’t like what that dead person did yesterday then don’t do it again today.  If we spend our time trying to correct what he/she did yesterday we are wasting the precious time we’ve been given today.  I’m not necessarily saying we should ‘Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die’ because that idea supports more of wasting the time we have rather I am advocating caring a little less about what happened and what is to come and concentrate on the here and the now.  I can spend my day beating myself up for not riding, writing, being a better father/husband yesterday or last week…….or…..I can simply accept that those things happened and be Better today.   I think, and have tested it out on myself, if we concentrate on being Better today those ‘If only’ moments become less and less.  The idea leads us to being able to have a moment between stimulus and response.  Living in the here and now with the conscience idea that what we do NOW matters,  makes us slow down and react with less emotion/passion. 

This idea can be even more powerful when you realize who you were when you started reading this doesn’t exist anymore. 

That person is dead as well.  We are constantly moving forward, wasting the time we have worrying about who we were even five minutes ago seems pointless to me.  Acknowledge and move on. 

                Taking it a step further; if the person we were a minute ago is dead….then the person we are to become has not been born yet.  Living fully in the now and being Better now will lead to the birth of a better person every minute.  Expecting the future you to be better but not doing anything to make that happen will lead to suffering as well.  Expectation leads to disappointment.  Expecting the negative to be a positive, expecting a Monday to be a Tuesday will lead one to more disappointment.  So we must let go of the dead person behind us, not worry about the unborn you yet to be fully realized and embrace the moment right now.   I’m writing. This leads to a blog post which leads me to contentment.  Yesterday I rode because I woke up and that’s what I knew I needed to do.  Because I did what was right for me at that moment I look back on that dead me and am content that I did what I wanted to do when I had the opportunity to do it.

Japanese Kanji for Peace which is what we get when we end our suffering
                So, how does one go about avoiding this ‘suffering’?  To a certain extent I’m not sure we fully can, we are after all humans and humans worry.  When I discovered the idea through my reading and research it was a ah-ha moment (also a decent 80’s band) but it also took me a lot more soul searching to keep the idea alive and in play within my life.  At first the idea spent a lot of time on the bench.  It’d raise its hand occasionally trying to get my attention and I’d ignore it.  One day after a particularly frustrating series of events at work and a couple of weeks off to soul search I put it in the game and it’s been playing center field ever since.  I’ll forget about it once in a while and the idea might go through a slump or two and my life de-volves into a lose/lose scenarios but it doesn’t seem to last as long and I am able to put the bad stuff behind me quicker now.  It’s come to the fore front once again recently because of my current job posting which is very new to me and I’m stumbling here and there a bit.  I’m catching myself for the most part but this concept has helped me to get up each time, brush myself off and get back in the batter’s box again.  Hope it helps for you as well.

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