I woke up with the words “The hardest thing to do in the world, is to live in it” floating in my mind. I had a vague recollection that this was from a film I had once watched but I couldn’t place it. Feeling there was some meaning in this random statement. I decided to go with it, thinking this could be the inspiration I needed for my next blog. I jotted down all the thoughts that followed relating to the statement. I thought about whether there was a true purpose to life, not the relentless need to earn money and pay bills. Surely, I was born on Earth for a more meaningful reason than walking through sludge.
I searched for the source of the line and felt ironically amused when it turned out to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I was a Buffy fan, that was not the surprise but I was guilty of expecting something a bit more prolific. The line “The hardest thing to do in the world, is to live in it” appears in two episodes. Not needing encouragement to dust off my DVD collection and revisit what once was stable viewing. I was curious to see if I would discover a message that I needed to hear.
I started with an episode from season 6, “Once More with Feeling”. A particular favorite as it is in a musical style. In brief, her friends cast a spell to bring her back from death believing she was in a hell dimension. Unbeknown to them she was actually in heaven. Keeping this truth secret left Buffy feeling distant from her friends, tired of going through the motions, feeling it meaningless – sleepwalking through her life. Superpowers aside, this felt familiar and rather disappointing. I could relate to feeling disengaged from the world, feeling flat. Wondering if this was live and finding it difficult to see the point.
The other episode, season 5, “The Gift”, saw Buffy sacrificed her life to save her ‘sister’ – Dawn, also known as ‘the key’ (a human vessel of universal energy), from having to die to save the world. In a monologue, during her sacrifice, Buffy instructs Dawn that “The hardest thing to do in this world, is to live. Be brave. Live for me”. I am embarrassed to admit that it actually brought a tear to my eye. I was reminded of the story of Jesus from the Bible, and from that a connection to a truth, that there is a spiritual dimension to this world, with teachings that center around a message of love, sacrifice and freedom.
I was left thinking about the levels of reality presented by these two episodes, and how I felt after watching them. Day to day living is associated with an external, material world. The going through the motions, that occupies the sphere of working to earn enough to get by, rather than something I would describe as ‘living’.
The “Gift” suggests another level of reality. Despite the external world feeling very real as an experience, it is an illusion disconnected from meaning. Another way to look at living, starts by observing our internal world. Many teachings propose a divine or cosmic ordering to life that gives it meaning. An energy that is in, and flows through, all living forms. As humans we have the gift of consciousness, an ability to have an awareness of this source energy within us. But we have forgotten how to make the connection.
We are conditioned from children to want to be successful, to achieve. Ideas around being happy and fulfilled are associated with the idea of gaining wealth and owning things. Our status and power in the world seems to be a reflection of our ability to do this. It would appear, the more money you have, the more control, choice and influence you have over how you spend you time – your living. But I am pretty sure that not all wealthy people have found happiness. Having wealth perhaps comes with its own pressures. We are conditioned to strive to improve our situation. We are bombarded by adverts selling us a lifestyle, a dreams of the things we need to own or do, to know we are successful and happy. For commercial reasons these aspirations are continually updated, we constantly feel like we need more, so we carry on striving towards an impossible goal. Are we so busy seeking an illusionary tomorrow that we are risking missing the happiness that we can have today?
Think of the important moments in your life, times when you felt fulfilled or happy or perhaps times when you experience a type of personal growth that changed your perception and priorities. Did you strive for those times? Or, have you experienced a life changing situation, that began with an insignificant event but in the fullness of times turned out to be transformative? I consider whether this is evidence of how the cosmic energy can operate within our lives, with a sense of order and purpose, that we are not able to conceive, only experience. Thus we are encouraged to trust the process of life.
So I consider whether all this striving actually takes us further from the fulfillment we seek, as it causes us to loiter in a state of dissatisfaction. However, we can not escape the world we live in. We have needs that must be met in order to survive. If success and striving for ‘success’, was the purpose to life and the route to happiness, the inequalities that run through all man made systems on the planet, would leave certain people excluded from the possibility of fulfillment. A depressing predicament that many of us feel. Recognizing that there is a universal life force does not take away the inequality and struggle but it does present the hopeful realisation that in the bigger scheme of things, material matters are of little value. In fact many teaching would imply that the less consumed with material possessions you are, the lighter you feel and the more in touch you become with the real meaning to life.
People who speak about what it is like to be fully aware of their inner world, talk about how it imbues an ability to perceive all living forms with greater profundity and love. It follows that the further we are from this source energy the easier it is to concern ourselves with self interest. Perhaps this is why some humans are able to inflict terrible things on others. It is suggested by some teachers that we connect to others from our heart chakra, not with our judgment forming minds. The greeting, namaste, was once explained to me as meaning ‘may the light in me, meet the light in you’. An expression that beautifully relays this idea of how we should relate to each other.
Imagine we remove wealth and status from the world, we accept we all have our own unique value, incomparable to the uniqueness of others. We all have enough food, feel safe and have shelter, what remains? I urge you to really think on this, observe how much of our conditioning to strive and compare ourselves to other arises in your mind and let go of it. Perhaps what remains may hint at to an individual deeper purpose waiting to be noticed. I would be really interested in reading people’s comments on this.
I began to imagine a world in which we could see the beauty in each others forms. We would have no need to fear each other so we could let down our guard, put away our armour and connect to one another in a completely new way. We would have more time to be creative, to explore with all the enthusiasm and curiosity of children. I imagine the potential to actually feel free, to love, to experience joy – to live. Outlandishly, I propose that this would introduce the next stage in human evolution.
I think without a doubt, it is hard to live in this world, with it’s many social injustices, big and small. Krishnamurti tells us that “It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society” Faith can seem like trying to keep a candle alight in a storm, at times. I find it challenging to walk through life, trusting in its purpose, when the path can not be seen through the fog. But we need to be alert and find the stillness to be aware, to light our way through the fog of illusion.
I am becoming aware of a childlike essence within myself, it wants to be with nature, imagines endless, limitless possibilities. It trusts and it loves and it laughs. I think this is who I am underneath the fear, resistance and sadness. The more time I spend influenced by the childlike authentic me, the less I feel I have to strive. The fear comes in if I start to think that my current life situation, will be my forever life situation, like groundhog day. Life, though, is like a glacier, continuously moving, even if the movement can not be seen.
I am learning to accept what is, without judgments from past experience or expectation. Resistance in relation to electricity, is something that opposes the flow of current. I think the same can be said with life. To live we have to accept what is but without the conditioned judgments that limit us and prevent us also seeing what could be. By observing any resistance to any moment, we start to become aware. This is very much a work in progress for me but I am starting to notice that I feel more at peace with myself. This is perhaps a shift towards having a greater sense of freedom.
One of the hardest thing to do in this world is perhaps to see past illusion we are conditioned to believe and choice to live. Find the true authentic self from deep inside us and go beyond striving for material desires and a sense of status. The gift of consciousness allows us to associate with a source of universal energy, that is the essence of life. Through awareness I feel we can increase our ability to flow with it, to struggle less. Do we need to have a map to show us how to succeed in life? Or do we bravely step out with love in our hearts, to destinations unknown and live the journey?
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