Living in the future

When we look ahead, when we look to the future, somehow we get dazzled by all the possibilities that are there waiting for us…..
As if the next event in our lives, the next situation, the next project, the next reationship, the next meal, even in meditation the next breath…..
we live our lives in anticipation of the next hit of experience as if the one that’s coming will finally do it for us.

What’s so strange is that nothing up until now has brought that sense of real completion or fulfillment. So why are we so seduced into thinking that the next one will?

Joseph Golodstein

Loving another person

For one human being to love another;
that is perhaps the most difficult of all our tasks,
the ultimate, the last test and proof,
the work for which all other work is but preparation

Rilke

Rilke’s words draw our attention to a key aspect of our practice. We sometimes imagine that the inner life develops best in quiet times, or when we can walk in the mountains or do a retreat. However, the place that best challenges and matures our practice is our relationships and encounters with others. It is there that life becomes our best teacher.

Sometimes however, we do not want to be taught, especially if it is through misunderstandings, disappointment or difficulty. We have a tendency – and this is reinforced by modern society – to expect a lot from relationships. And we have to admit that many of the most painful moments in our lives come directly from our relationships, with partners, parents, family members, friends, work colleagues. What we often fail to see that most relationships have an element of projection in them, where we unconsciously externalize some of our internal dynamics and place them in the other person. We often want the other person to complete us and in many ways to perfect us. And therefore, inevitably, since the other person is just human – a mix of good and bad – they are not able to sustain the projection indefinitively, and some form of disappointment enters. Our practice may tell us that most difficulties arise because we want the other person or something to be different than they are at this moment. However, knowing that does not always help, especially when we feel that our own emotional needs are not being met. At moments like that we tend to split into “them” and “us”, and see the other person as being at fault. Our most instinctive, response to our own insecurity and fear is to assign blame and seek to place its source in another person.

However, often our most fundamental needs are revealed in these moments, and this is why relationships are the place for serious practice. They lead us face to face with our deepest selves, if we have the courage to turn towards our fears rather than run away from them. If we can be forgiving of ourselves and how we react to our fears then we realize better how to be with others who have the same fears.

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Perspective

Nothing worth doing is completed in our lifetime,
Therefore, we are saved by hope.

Nothing true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; Therefore, we are saved by faith.

Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone. Therefore, we are saved by love.

No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as from our own; Therefore, we are saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

Niebuhr