How to live in present, while still visualizing a grander future for yourself? How to create a future that you love, without worrying about it? How to do our work like we play as a child?
For that we need to answer, how much do I appreciate what I am at present, how much I am completely grateful for whatever it is today, how much I am contented with what is today. Then the grander vision becomes a play….because you don’t NEED the grander vision, but you simply want to ‘know’ it can be achieved for its own sake. Then working towards the grander vision becomes a ‘play’ , a wonder, a curiosity and a simple fascination.
Our life today maybe ‘great’ or maybe ‘difficult’ as the world would have defined it for us, or as we are tending to feel today. But still in itself, it IS possible for us to love our life just as it is today. The greater we appreciate life and see the beauty of any situation, even if it was a loss or a disgrace or an illness or pain, the greater we have the capacity to be ‘present’. The greater we have the capacity to let go and play like a child, the greater is our capacity to dream big dreams if we want and make it come true.
In fact, even that pain or loss becomes as ‘play’ , if we look into it deeply. Dreaming big and the struggles that come with it will also become a ‘play’ and will not bear heavily on us. We wont be attached to whether that dream will come true or not.
Zen priests used to etch out intricate designs in clay, so intricate and fine that it used to utterly intrigue western scientists in trying to figure out the ‘science’ and the ‘art’ of it. But what was absolutely more intriguing is that these priests used to etch it out and destroy the clay design back for re-moulding on the same day. Only pictures of their designs remain to this day, but not the designs. And if somebody fortunate has the chance, they can catch them doing it and actually see it with their bare eyes. Now, it makes us wonder, why did the Zen priests do this? Why etch out a painfully intricate design of the highest quality and then destroy them all?
Have you seen a child play on sand. It makes its wondrous creations… a castle, a house, a doll, a stadium… with the greatest of love and fascination. And when the wave is ready to destroy the sand creations, the children go behind, watch it, clap and jump and laugh as the waves crushes the sand buildings. The child does not give up on building, thinking all the creations will anyway get destroyed. It now plays the buildings yet again and enjoys its crushing with the same fervour yet again.
Isn’t this the life that we take so seriously? Whether that is fame or disrepute, gain or loss, pain or joy, praise or blame – the 8 loka-dharmas that escape no beings on this world, are all impermanent. That is the inescapable truth, the law of the universe. All the 8 are sand creations, sand buildings. And yet we put our energy and attachment into it, so much that when that inevitable truth dawns due to a harsh event of life, we are not able to accept it. We resist life. We get stuck in our past losses or our anxieties and worries of the future.
We think that just because we put in so much of our dedicated efforts into something, by that very fact, it is our birthright to own it permanently. Our energy and our efforts that we put into a relationship or a work, seems to make us think we are entitled for ownership on it. So much so that it simply seems ‘unfair’ or ‘unjust’ that it be taken away from us, by the hands of ‘fate’. But the hands of ‘fate’ already had this written on that piece of work or on that piece of relationship even when it was born newly. ‘This shall also pass’…. is etched on each piece of mine and your ‘possessions’ and ‘creations’ of life.
Does this mean that we should not put energy into our ‘creations’ , our ‘work’ and ‘love’? Since anyway its impermanent? Our fame, our titles, our houses, our relationships are all finally not ours. If we are lucky they might stay with us for a lifetime, but finally they refuse to be ‘ours’ at death. They refuse to accompany us with ‘death’. They are all threatened to pass away to naught, to nothingness, on our death. What accompanies us with death, is only the skills that we learn, the qualities – good and bad that we learn to ‘hone’ in our lives.
Knowing this truth, the wise simply ‘play’ life, live totally in the present. Whether that’s simple or grand, it doesn’t matter. Some of them love to create fascinating things and they do, but they don’t claim ownership on it. In that creation or in that simple life they choose, whatever they accumulate for their spirits, they take with them in their death.
In the process of ‘playing’ life, the wise accumulate strengths. While ‘playing life’, the wise accumulate more capacity to love, more capacity to persevere, more capacity to be alert, more capacity to give, more capacity to focus, more capacity to simply realise more truths of life. And these honed capacities and faculties, they take with them in their deaths. They ‘play’ their own games, they learn while they play, they evolve to higher and higher heights. Learning the art of ‘playing life’ is indeed a great art that supersedes any other art.
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