Life can be confusing, overwhelming, confounding, boring, and annoying. We’re here for the blink of an eye, and then, gone forever. What’s the point of it all, anyway? Why care about being happy and healthy during our short time here; why not run through this life naked and on fire?
Who hasn’t, at some time or another, questioned their own existence? The answers can be found through religion, children, hobbies, alcohol or drugs, exercise, art, or anything meaningful in one’s own life. What if we also focused on the meaning of right NOW, instead of the broader concept of life as a whole?
For example, what color are your Mother’s eyes? A simple question with a profound storyline: mere moments after your first breath as a newborn, you began your search for love, in the eyes of your mother. Eye-contact plays a key element in the mother-baby bonding process, yet is something that Mother Nature has in store for us at the moment of conception. I’ll ask again, what color are your Mother’s eyes? Now that the question has made you mindful of your birth, your childhood, and the deep-rooted love for your mother, do you see a color or a catalogue of memories that (just maybe) brought a tear to your eye?
The right now doesn’t need to be profound. The beauty of this moment lies in the simple things, and in mindfulness. When recognizing each moment sincerely, we free ourselves of the material worries binding us down. Bills, goals, and medical problems are still present, but they’re a loose-fitting sweater instead of a straight-jacket. When we appreciate each moment for what it is, nothing more and nothing less, we can realize that compassion is as important as food and water. No matter your religious or spiritual background, these are universal truths. We are responsible for creating our own world, be it a personal heaven or hell. Don’t miss the details while you’re trying to see the big picture.
Below is a Zen parable that has changed my life forever:
A big, tough samurai went to see a little monk.
“Monk!”,, he barked, in a voice accustomed to unwavering obedience. “Teach me about heaven and hell!”
The monk looked up at the mighty warrior and replied with utter disdain. “Teach you about heaven and hell? I couldn’t teach you about anything. You’re dumb. You’re dirty. You’re a disgrace, an embarrassment to the samurai class. Get out of my sight. I can’t stand you.”
The samurai got furious. He shook, red in the face, speechless with rage. He pulled out his sword, and prepared to slay the monk.
Looking straight into the samurai’s eyes, the monk said softly, “That’s hell.”
The samurai froze, realizing the compassion of the monk who had risked his life to show him hell! He put down his sword and fell to his knees, filled with gratitude.
The monk said softly, “And that’s heaven.”
In the end, a life filled with gratitude, mindfulness and compassion can reverberate through you to hundreds, thousands, or millions of people and living things. Is it all about the meaning of life or is it all about a life full of meaning?