Thursday, August 6, 2009
What Should We Be If We Could?
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
This is a profound question, "What should we be?" Should we be aggressive and ambitious, or compassionate and passive? Should we be a little of both? Or maybe something completely different from aggression, ambition, compassion, and passivity? Can we ever be what we should be, even if that involves being what we can't be? Or could it be that we can't be what we should be, simply because we shouldn't be what we couldn't be?
Or maybe "should" and "could" should be banned from the English language!
Should and could do nothing but cloud our eyes. With their false promises, they prevent us from seeing reality. Actually, they are escapes from reality, because they place our minds in a fantasy world of images from the past and projections of the future so that we have no chance of ever seeing the facts as they present themselves moment to moment.
I remember my mother telling me that I should be more careful. When she told me that, an image of myself being careful would flash in my mind, and presto-chango; I no longer saw my carelessness! All I saw was an image of a would-be, careful kid. I could ignore my actual carelessness and replace it with only an image of the opposite; my being careful, which was a false image.
Substituting our false images for what is real is what we do all the time. If we are cowardly, we project an image of what it would be like if we were brave, and suddenly, like magic, we are brave. But not really. In reality, we are still cowards; we just imagine that we're not.
Imaging and dreaming is not so bad if it wasn't for the fact that imaging and dreaming take up brain space. I think we do this on purpose - taking up consciousness with imagining and dreaming about what should be, because then we don't have to face what really is; we don't have to face reality, and when we don't face reality, we never have to change.
This clever trick we play on ourselves we do endlessly, because we resist change. We fight change when we don't pay attention to our real actions, and instead pay more attention to our hopes and dreams. If we can project ourselves into a better state, why go to the trouble of actually changing?
This fact that we substitute ideals in place of reality means that we live in a dream world of illusion. It also means that all goals and aspirations are based on these same fictions of the imagination. Therefore, when a goal is achieved, is it realty... or fiction? If goals are dreams, then achieved goals must be fiction, which means that all goals are fantasies, pursued by a fantasy. Achieved goals are never final, as in, "There, I have achieved, and now I'm finished." All of our goals are quickly replaced by other goals.
Nothing approaching truth or reality, opposed to fantasy, can change, and therefore the truth of the matter is that we are ourselves fantasies, and that is the reason we are so comfortable with ideals rather than the realty of what is each moment. Fantasy is comfortable with fantasy.
Our "self" is a fantasy. Our self is created by chemical and electrical stimulations in our brains creating memory and thought that cycle back and forth to create a "watcher." This is obvious with a little meditation. The basis of that fantasy "self" however, is reality, but we cannot see through to that reality because of the shroud of should and could. We "should" be able to see; and therefore we attempt all kinds of spiritual practices in order to see and be aware, but we remain snug as a bug in our fantasies and fabrications of ourselves because we don't really want to tear the illusions down.
If we would accidentally tear it down, which means that we remain within reality instead of escaping into a fantasy world of illusions, we think that we would have nothing left, or at least that is our idea of what our experience would be. The reality of the experience, however, is quite different from this. Upon tearing down this facade of "self," and going through that door of emptiness that presents itself as the epiphany of no-self, the exact opposite of having nothing left appears, which means suddenly; we have everything!
This everything, however, is not the everything that we are familiar with. This is nothingness. This is the nothingness that witnesses the truth of our not being, the truth of our non-existence. The Buddha described it as; the flame is blown out.
Scary stuff for the fantasy self, but "everything" for the reality that you truly are. So what should we be?... Absolutely nothing.