More conscious choices

As said before, the period of the pandemic can become a moment of reflection, where we come to know who we are and what we are our most important values. The challenge is, can we mindfully commit to living the rest of our lives from this place of truth?

Society … was regarded (by the Desert Fathers) as the shipwreck from which each single individual man had to swim for his life … These were men who believed that to let oneself drift along, passively accepting the tenets and values of what they knew as society, was purely and simply a disaster.

Henri Nouwen, The Way of the Heart

90 seconds

We have a choice. We can spend our whole life suffering because we can’t relax with how things really are, or we can relax and embrace the open-endedness of the human situation, which is fresh, unfixated, unbiased.

So the challenge is to notice the emotional tug of shenpa when it arises and to stay with it for one and a half minutes without the storyline. Can you do this once a day, or many times throughout the day, as the feeling arises? This is the challenge. This is the process of unmasking, letting go, opening the mind and heart.


Pema Chödrön, Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

Everything changes

Everything is changing, including you.
That is an actual fact you can see.
This is not something you will know after reading many books.
So if you have a lot of suffering in your everyday life,
you will actually feel the most important teaching of Buddhism:
that everything changes, and there is nothing to stick t
o.

from the great Shunryu Suzuki roshi

Always uncertain

The future will never provide the reassurance you seek from it. As the ancient Greek and Roman Stoics understood, much of our suffering arises from attempting to control what is not in our control. And the main thing we try but fail to control – the seasoned worriers among us, anyway – is the future. We want to know, from our vantage point in the present, that things will be OK later on. But we never can. (This is why it’s wrong to say we live in especially uncertain times. The future is always uncertain; it’s just that we’re currently very aware of it.)

It’s freeing to grasp that no amount of fretting will ever alter this truth. It’s still useful to make plans. But do that with the awareness that a plan is only ever a present-moment statement of intent, not a lasso thrown around the future to bring it under control. The spiritual teacher Jiddu Krisnamurti said his secret was simple: “I don’t mind what happens.” That needn’t mean not trying to make life better, for yourself or others. It just means not living each day anxiously braced to see if things work out as you hoped.

Oliver Burkeman, The eight secrets to a (fairly) fulfilled life in The Guardian