What is life? The eternal question, pondered over by numerous philosophers and spiritual leaders and yet to be answered in an all encompassing and satisfactory way.
A related question is: how do we experience life? That is fortunately much easier to answer. Everything that we do, that we see, that we feel, is all sensations. We experience life as if it were a continuous concatenation of sensations. We live by sensations. Touch, feeling, pain, tears, laughter, humour are all part of sensation. Every second, every response is part of sensation. It is natural, we all have it and is part of life.
Now, what happens when you have a sensation – when you see a beautiful car, an impressive building, a pretty person? Then thought arrives. It makes an image of the sensation, it gives shape to it and, immediately, desire is born. The desire tells us something. “I want that” or “I don’t want that”. These are in fact the two only problems we have in our life.
1. Dominant Sensations
So life automatically becomes a sequence of desires. Desires are dominant sensations and we unconsciously subject ourselves to them. However, when you allow time between the sensation and the thought before it creates a shape, you will become aware of the nature of desire. You become more in control.
A very effective way of doing so is found in the practice of meditation. In a meditation session, you have your eyes closed. You deeply focus on your breathing. You register all the sounds and noises around you. These are the sensations. You acknowledge them, but there is no judgment. Just sensations, nothing more, nothing less. You keep your thoughts still. You become the observer of your sensations. You become aware of the nature of desire, of how desire begins and then you learn what to do with it.
Before: sensations -> desire
After: sensations -> observation -> thoughts
2. What is Personality?
A subsequent awareness can be created by understanding our own personality. What is personality? When you lookup the etymology of the word person, you read that it is derived from the Latin word persona, which means actor’s mask or character in a play. So, the word itself was not meant to describe who we are, but who we play.
We live in a big theater play. You are born with a certain role. You experience all kinds of sensations in your role on the stage of life. But it is important to understand that it is ‘just’ your personality, i.e. your role. It does not describe who You are.
You are not your personality, you have a personality.
3. The Nature of Fear
This leads us to start to understand the nature of fear. What is the source of fear, what causes it? For thousands of years, we have been struggling with fear and have not progressed much, if anything at all. Out of these fears we have created gods, hierarchies and temples, but we still cannot describe fear.
Just as with sensations, once we understand the nature of fear, we are able to transcend it. When we address our fear, when we are able to acknowledge it, the fear disappears, or, better put, the sensation of our fear is gone.
Fear is closely related to time. We fear the past, we fear the future, and we fear the present. I have been that, I won’t be that, but I am that now. The whole process is a movement in time.
The past, the present and the future is contained in the now. The past is operating now. The future is shaped by the present. Circumstances change and so the past is modified. The future is what happens now. What you do now matters much more than what you will do tomorrow.
If I am greedy now, and if I don’t do anything about it now, I will be greedy tomorrow. If there is no radical mutation now, I will be the same tomorrow. And nothing changes.
If there is no mutation now, you will be exactly the same tomorrow. And this is why fear has survived all these millennia.
Fear can however be eradicated. You can end it if you put your brain, your heart into it. This will set you free. You liberate yourself and achieve pure freedom. Understand your fear and transcend it, with your heart.
Make your life a piece of art. Now is the right time.
Gratitude goes out for the inspiration provided to write this article:
- The Power is Now- Krishnamurti
- Presentation Alexander den Heijer
Photo by Bekah Russom on Unsplash