Not too long ago, I had a friend ask me what I felt was the purpose of my life. What am I here for and what is my ultimate goal in life?
It made me realize that I hadn’t even ever asked myself these questions. I hadn’t even deeply considered why I am here on this earth. Why I am in existence. My whole life, I had been living more for the future, than for the present. Since this time I have given these questions much thought, have done a lot of reading, and have asked others what they think. It has certainly helped to clarify in my mind what my own personal answer is. I don’t think there are words to describe exactly how I feel about what the meaning of my life is, but here, as succinct as I can be, are the words I have been able to pull from my mind: to realize inner peace by living each and every moment to its fullest intensely beautiful potential and to then share this peace with everyone and everything I come in contact with, simply by being at peace.
This might be perceived as being a little bit too simple, or maybe even impossible, but to me, it seems like the one true path that some of our most celebrated humans in history have pointed towards in one way or another. Whether it be Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, or any other prophetic messenger of our times; I feel that they are all saying the same thing at the core. That once you have truly discovered that life itself is the key to happiness, everything else will fade away and the simplicity of joy will be revealed to anyone who surrenders to it.
We must realize that we are not our minds. Who we are, or our true “Being”, is accessed by letting go of our mental image of who we are as individuals and surrendering to the current moment. Our minds grasp this artificial concept of time and thrive off of getting caught up in past events and thoughts or projecting ourselves into the future in a self created “motion picture of the mind”. I believe it is very important to realize that the majority of emotion that we feel is simply the body’s reaction to the mind, and thus separates us from what actually is, what is in fact going on around us in every passing moment. The great majority of human pain is self created and completely unnecessary, and thus can be removed with an increased consciousness of being, of living in the present.
This false sense of self, this idea of who we are as individuals fabricated within our minds is our ego.
The ego is constantly searching for wholeness, something it will never find, which leads humans down an eternal path of feeling incomplete, or a sense of not being whole. Eckhart Tolle puts this ego representation into words beautifully: “people will often enter into a compulsive pursuit of ego-gratification and things to identify with in order to fill this hole they feel within. So they strive after possessions, money, success, power, recognition, or a special relationship, basically so that they can feel better about themselves, feel more complete. But even when they attain all these things, they soon find that the hole is still there, that it is bottomless.” What we must do, is strip away this ego controlled version of ourselves to reveal our inner true selves. This is the only way to experience inner peace, to reach enlightenment. We must realize that our life situation, the things occurring in our physical life, are separate from who we are, our true selves.
Do you find yourself habitually waiting? Waiting for the weekend? Waiting for that promotion at work? Waiting for the love of your life to come around? Our lives are a continuous journey, and if you spend much of that journey waiting for what seems to be around the corner, you will end up retracting from the energy you could be putting towards the now. If you aren’t giving yourself up fully to the present moment, then you really aren’t putting forth your greatest potential at any one time. If you aren’t revealing your greatest potential to the world because you are so concerned about future steps, then you are robbing yourself and the rest of the world of the potential you as a human being have. As you become more deeply aware of this, you will see that all of those steps and the destination itself lie within the decisions and actions of the present moment.
So, it has been made apparent that it is intensely important to be present, to live in the moment. But it is easy to forget that this isn’t something you think about. You can’t exactly think about being present, you just have to be present. A great way to test yourself with this is to simply close your eyes, and ask yourself: “I wonder what my next thought is going to be.” Then just be totally aware to what ideas or thoughts make their way into your consciousness. The longer it takes for a thought to come to mind, the more in the moment you are, the more present you are as you become less enslaved by your thoughts. It is so immensely important to remain in the moment as you become more open to the beauty that surrounds us. You may even be lucky enough to experience satori, or a flash of insight, a moment of no-mind and total presence. Although it is extremely difficult to hold onto this type of feeling, it can be a great signal or indication of what the possibilities are just by surrendering to the moment.
Part of this illusion of life, this continual grasping of the ego, comes from our association with our physical selves, with our bodies. Our idea of “self”, of our physical presence, is robbing us of the potential to fully connect back to our true nature, to feel as one with the cosmos. Once you let this go you will realize that you are connected to something so vast and immeasurable that it can’t even be conceived of. However; it is very important to recognize that this transformation, this awakening does occur through the body, just not specifically your perception of it. Don’t fight the body, you will not reach peace through denying it, just realize that it is only a shell, it is the doorway to your inner, true self. By attempting to stay more within your body, to feel it, to sense how alive it is will help you to stay out of your mind. If your emotions start to take hold of you, back off from your thoughts and give more attention to every cell in your physical self. One great technique to connect back with your inner body is to concentrate on your breathing. Focus on the air entering and leaving your body, close your eyes and breathe in the “light” all around you.
Many people seek peace and happiness through relationships with other people, primarily through a significant other. This can lead to problems down the road with any relationship sought out to create peace. There invariably will be a period where both people in the relationship feel at peace, feel a sense of being complete or whole, but this feeling doesn’t last for people who hadn’t felt this way before the relationship. True fulfillment comes from within, from the joy of being, and from no source outside of self. Most intimate relationships evolve to the point of being love/hate where love can turn into savage attack, feeling of hostility, jealousy, or withdrawal from affection, all at the drop of a hat. This relationship then typically oscillates between love and hate until ultimately it fails. We tend to become addicted to the periods of love and then grasp and become dependent on them. This lends to these negative hate feelings because of the clinginess that arises out of the fear of losing that feeling of love. The romantic-love relationship gives us an escape from the deep feelings of fear and inadequacy we hold deep inside. Avoiding romantic relationships isn’t the answer, however. The pain is there anyway. I think instead of seeking this escape from our inner pain and fear through a romantic relationship with another person, it is very important to seek a feeling of inner peace as an individual. This will then allow you to open up to others around you, including a romantic interest, and you will be able to share a feeling of love unparalleled to anything else. At this point, you and your partner can actually continue on the path to peace together, as partners, rather than depending on each other for happiness.
Peace comes from a recognition that the good can’t exist without the bad. Happiness and unhappiness are in fact one. Without recognizing this, you will surely seek an illusion for the rest of your life, an illusion that a feeling of “happiness” can be maintained for infinity. Being at peace is accepting both the happy and the sad, the beautiful and the ugly, all as being part of the same thing, all as being connected and reliant on each other. If you can accept the impermanence of the world around us, it will allow you to feel more at peace and to stop resisting what is. The miracle of surrender is that anything you fully accept will help you become more at peace. Once you can completely accept your non-peace, your non-peace actually morphs into peace. If you are able to reach a high sense of inner peace, it becomes natural to help others around you, and not by doing, but simply by being. Your natural compassion for the beings around you will emanate from your body and soul and people will be touched by your presence and affected by the peace that you emanate.
We all have our own unique paths in life. We all have something specific to offer up to the world, but in order to reach our full potentials, it is imperative to live each moment to its fullest potential. By surrendering to all that can not be controlled and accepting both the good and bad as characteristics of this beautiful life we have all been blessed with, you will be able to live a more full, more impactful life. By growing this sense of inner peace, which truly can be achieved at any time, which isn’t something that has to be sought after or worked towards, many of the major problems of our world and in our own lives will simply fade. We must surrender, we must accept the world around us and live each moment as the gift that it is. Simply by doing this, we can change the world, but it has to start with you.
(The majority of the way this was verbalized comes directly from “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle which he based on the spiritual teachings of many brilliant people before him as well has his own personal experiences. His way of putting these ideas into words has resonated with me in a very intense way and thus I used it as a guide for this post which I have been working on for the last few months. I strongly recommend reading this book if what I have said resonates with you.)