funny- i purchased a copy of “living beautifully” by pema chodron and once again while breathing in her perspective, i felt a slight shift of insight, as if a thin veil had been pulled away. my experience with pema’s writing is that she is a lyricist for the soundtrack of my life. although i run and i hide, the truth in her soothsayer tellings that rings with clarity that it may very well be time to wake up.
As human beings we share a tendency to scramble for certainty whenever we realize that everything around us is in flux. In difficult times the stress of trying to find solid ground�something predictable and safe to stand on�seems to intensify. But in truth, the very nature of our existence is forever in flux. Everything keeps changing, whether we�re aware of it or not.
What a predicament! We seem doomed to suffer simply because we have a deep-seated fear of how things really are. Our attempts to find lasting pleasure, lasting security, are at odds with the fact that we�re part of a dynamic system in which everything and everyone is in process.
So this is where we find ourselves: right in the middle of a dilemma. And it leaves us with some provocative questions: How can we live wholeheartedly in the face of impermanence, knowing that one day we�re going to die? What is it like to realize we can never completely and finally get it all together? Is it possible to increase our tolerance for instability and change? How can we make friends with unpredictability and uncertainty�and embrace them as vehicles to transform our lives?
The Buddha called impermanence one of the three distinguishing marks of our existence, an incontrovertible fact of life. But it�s something we seem to resist pretty strongly. We think that if only we did this or didn�t do that, somehow we could achieve a secure, dependable, controllable life. How disappointed we are when things don�t work out quite the way we planned.
Not long ago, I read an interview with the war correspondent Chris Hedges in which he used a phrase that seemed like a perfect description of our situation: �the moral ambiguity of human existence.� This refers, I think, to an essential choice that confronts us all: whether to cling to the false security of our fixed ideas and tribal views, even though they bring us only momentary satisfaction, or to overcome our fear and make the leap to living an authentic life. That phrase, �the moral ambiguity of human existence,� resonated strongly with me because it�s what I�ve been exploring for years: How can we relax and have a genuine, passionate relationship with the fundamental uncertainty, the groundlessness of being human?
My first teacher, Ch�gyamTrungpa, used to talk about the fundamental anxiety of being human. This anxiety or queasiness in the face of impermanence isn�t something that afflicts just a few of us; it�s an all-pervasive state that human beings share. But rather than being disheartened by the ambiguity, the uncertainty of life, what if we accepted it and relaxed into it? What if we said, �Yes, this is the way it is; this is what it means to be human,� and decided to sit down and enjoy the ride?