I got a letter from someone recently that somehow epitomizes the gist of the human dilemma. We seek and search, grasping at illusions in the phenomenal world we think will make us happy. And then we either get them and lose them, don’t get them, or get them and then fret about how they might be taken away.
“I got what I REALLY wanted and for so long, so why am I not happy?”
Grasping is human.
I felt that this letter was so important to all of us, really at any phase, but especially now when there seems to be so much struggle and unease. Isn’t there another, more satisfying approach to life? We all grasp at things: our loved ones, our public image, the last piece of chocolate cake.
The trouble with grasping is that we keep projecting ourselves into the future, rather than being fully present with what is. We orient our lives around a perfect perceived end that may or may not come to fruition, and then we are disappointed when it doesn’t match our expectations. The trouble with grasping is that we may create a fantasy that is completely irrelevant to our reality.
We can only live in the present. You can’t go back to where you were before, so you must keep moving forward and see where it takes you. Ironically, it is often when we have the courage to accept our worst possible scenario that things take a turn for the better.
Non-attachment is the remedy.
I think this is the whole point of practice. We often get a huge dose of medicine: the lesson that outer circumstances are completely unrelated to our state of mind. We have the choice to cultivate equanimity and appreciate things as they are, or to continuously grasp at outer circumstances, grasping at things that we think will make us happy.
I’ve spent long enough doing the latter, and I’m trying out a new approach, starting right now. So could you. We all have love, all the time. We only have to pay attention to that, and recognize that the present moment is full of love.