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We are all brought up to perceive life in a twisted way.
Death is a taboo subject. We are shielded from illness and suffering.
Pretence is paramount.
People are trained to see things in a fixed, unchanging way. Perfect health. Job security. Marriage...
But life is flux.
Things change. Situations change. People change.
Looking outside of yourself for an anchor is foolish.
Nothing is static. There is nothing to cling to. Our relationship with existence is protean.
The more we struggle to create an anchor, the harder life becomes.
We need to let-go, and let the current take us where it will.
This is not so easy to do.
We invest in material possessions. We commit time to personal relationships. We expect a job to repay our loyalty.
People invest in ideas, in opinions, in diversions and distractions.
They associate themselves with teams, with celebrities, with fashions and trends.
An ever-changing parade of illusions are offered to us.
You are not your possessions. You are not the car you drive. You are not your wallet. Your bank account.
You are not your job. You are not your family. You are not your name. You are not your reputation.
You are not your ambitions. You are not your memories. You are not your fears.
You are not your opinions. You are not your beliefs. You are not your image. You are not your taijiquan.
Material goods are essentially junk. Trinkets. Tat.
They may make our lives more luxurious but they add nothing to our security.
Protecting and maintaining material goods is costly and on-going.
Insurance, security, loss and theft create anxiety.
A car does not love you back, you cannot expect reciprocity. A mobile phone will be outmoded in two years.
Jewellery has no actual worth. The value is simply attributed.
A relationship is a complex interaction between people. There is no fixity to be found.
In this era marriage is failing. People are unwilling to make a lasting commitment.
The old values and interests are no longer as pertinent.
We live in a time dominated by the entertainment industry.
People draw inspiration from the fictional lives of celebrities, from the media and the hype.
They have unrealistic expectations of other people. And of themselves.
Job security is a precarious commodity in modern society.
Overpopulation, mechanisation, sweatshop labour and foreign competition make it difficult to find and keep a job.
You may do everything conceivable to support your company only to find yourself fired because the shareholders want higher profits.
It is ever so tempting to rest back in the arms of authority and let someone else tell you what to do.
But this is also dangerous and naive.
People offer authority in all forms: government, companies, family, organisations, religions, beliefs, cults, groups, masters, gurus, experts and even friends.
Do not be so quick to allow someone authority over you.
You visit the doctor and they determine what is wrong with you.
A series of questions and tests provide the doctor with enough information to make an educated guess.
Sometimes they may know for sure.
Then, a course of treatment is suggested.
Occasionally, a drug is prescribed.
Yet, was that drug specifically tailored for you?
Does the doctor know how it will interact with your own chemistry?
Can they be sure of the effect?
Of the side-effects?
People seek comfort in food. In having. In belonging. In meaning. In responsibility. In authority.
Instead of being integrated inside, people look outside themselves for security.
And this need is catered for.
Society supplies prescription medication, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, recreational drugs, shopping, holidays, status, prestige, sport and television.
There are countless distractions.
We are encouraged to lose ourselves in an ever-widening range of diversions that take us away from our true nature.
You do not need a prop. You do not need things to lean on.
If you rely on something else for stability, it will slowly own you.
So many adults dye their hair. They dress young. They deny their aging, their vulnerability, their frailty.
Some people have cosmetic surgery in an attempt to appear young.
This is all so facile.
We age. We deteriorate. We die.
There is no security to be found in chasing eternal youth. The only security lies in knowing that you will eventually die.
Pretending to be immortal and invulnerable is stupid.
Exercise, meditation and diet exist to improve the quality of our lives. We cannot halt aging.
Seeking immortality is a fools endeavour.
Is there any security? Can we find anything substantive and real?
This is what meditation addresses.
Meditation aims to bring us back to reality. It shows us the nature of what is.
Life contains so many unknowns.
We have so little control over what will happen to us.
Our lives are flotsam - floating on an indifferent, gargantuan ocean of activity.
Things affect us all the time. We are acutely vulnerable.
No matter how hard we scrabble for security and comfort, we will never stop the changing nature of things.
The unknown is frightening. It brings surprises. We cannot anticipate all outcomes or prepare for every eventuality.
Nor can we stop the changes from happening.
We do not actually fear the unknown. That would be a contradiction in terms. What we fear is the loss of the known.
Meditation teaches us to relax. To stop searching for fixity.
Instead, we look inside ourselves and hold fast to our centre, our being.
You can think of it as your soul, your nature, your essence - whatever works for you.
Here is something that does not change.
Integrated and whole, we move with what is happening. Our stability lies within.
Fear can be addressed by coming to terms with what is. By accepting the Way of things. By ceasing our struggle.
Conflict fades once we learn to stop fighting and simply flow.
18 March 1997
Last updated 20 January 2017