Right now we are in a town called Woy Woy on the east coast of Australia, just north of Sydney. It’s a pretty enough town, but its main claim to fame is that Spike Milligan’s parents retired here way back whenever it was they retired. And, Spike himself was a regular visitor to the town.
We are, however, here housesitting and caring for three Miniature Poodles. Crazy, but loving and loveable little monsters. We are here for another couple of weeks, or to be precise 14 day, 4 hours, and 55 minutes until the plane lifts off from Sydney to carry us to Broken Hill.
You might have guessed by now that I am getting pretty excited, anxious, and plain and simple looking forward to getting there. And, yes, you would be right. I just want to be there—way out there in desert country. But, you see, herein lays the problem: I am so keen to get there that I’m feeling as if I am no longer here. I am not present; I am not living each moment in the place I am in.
I don’t mean to say that I am some sort of Buddha who usually is fully present in each moment; or who is serene and calm when he knows change is coming. But, I must say that lately I have improved (slightly) my living in the moment, being here and now, way of living. It’s just that I’ve been longing for this particular change (and all that I anticipate will come with it) so much that I just can’t help myself.
Did I mention already that this is a problem for me? Well, yes, I did, and it is. I prefer very much to be where I am and when I am at any given moment. Or, at least, to be there and then as often as I am able.
Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting something to happen. The problem arises when one is so anxious for whatever it is to happen, that what’s happening here and now ceases to be where one is at—not living in the present.
Buddha taught what are called The Four Noble Truths. (which pretty much forms the core of Buddhist teachings) The second of these Truths says that attachment is the cause of suffering. Suffering here means anxiety, worry, regret, fear; all those kinds of things. Whenever we say something like, ‘I can’t wait to…’, then it is a sure sign we are attached to that want or desire.
By the way, the First Noble Truth is: Life is suffering. Suffering, The Buddha taught, is simply the price of being alive. We get hungry, we are conscious of pain (in all its guises), we grieve; we grow old; we get sick; and we die.
But, right now, I want to talk more about Noble Truths three and four. Number three says that suffering can be overcome. Nice clean, clear, and not to mention, succinct little statement. Of course, it’s easy for him to say isn’t it? He is Buddha after all.
Perfectly reasonable reaction from us suffering humans. But there is hope and will find that in Noble Truth number four which gives us the how of overcoming suffering. There are quite a few ways to put this Truth into words, but the one I like best says:
The way to overcome suffering is to sit.
What? Sit? Yes, sit. Be still; stop moving. Of course if we relate this Truth to my little dilemma for wanting to so badly to be somewhere else that I’m not able to be where I am now, we can expand this Truth to something like this:
Focus your full attention on what you are doing now, and where you are now as well. As much as you can, be open to change, but be less attached to the nature or timing of that change. After all, you can make all the plans you like, but who knows what’s really going to happen—you won’t know that till it actually happens.
So, that’s what I am trying to do. Instead of saying stuff like ‘I wish we could go sooner’, or ‘it’s only x days till we go’, I am going to ask myself, ‘What am I doing now?’, and I plan to look around me, and engage more with the reality of this moment. Then the next moment, then the next.
As Ram Dass said, Be Here Now. Hey, that’s a great mantra isn’t it? Chanting it whenever I start getting out of the here and now mode, might just put me back here—and now.
Love and blessings from us to you