The true life is not reducible to words spoken or written, not by anyone, ever.
Hermann Hesse “Hauser am Waltrand,” 1929, Heiner Hesse Arcegno.
“The entire simple cycle of life that so much preoccupies men and which all religions interpret with veneration, takes place unambiguously, rapidly, and in silence in the garden.”
—Hermann Hesse, “In The Garden,” 1908.
Courtesy of The Blue Lantern
Sometimes I tease people and ask: “What makes you so adamant that there’s no life after death? What proof do you have? What if you found there was a life after this one, having died denying its existence?” Those of us who undertake a spiritual discipline—of meditation, for example—come to discover many things about our own minds that we did not know before. For as our minds open more and more to the extraordinary, vast, and hitherto unsuspected existence of the nature of mind, we begin to glimpse a completely different dimension, one in which all of our assumptions about our identity and reality, which we thought we knew so well, start to dissolve, and in which the possibility of lives other than this one becomes at least likely. We begin to understand that everything we are being told by the masters about life and death, and life after death, is real.
When we live our lives it’s something like a race - our minds become concerned and covered over and we get depressed and have to get away for a holiday. And then sometimes there are moments of perfection and in these moments we wonder why we ever thought life was difficult.
By the use of the intellect we have created a world of ideas that does not actually exist. The political world is a structure conceived and agreed to us by us but it is not a reality. You have been conditioned to believe that this political world is in fact real. With this conception it is believed that we have come into ownership of the world and that we are responsible for creating it and with this concept we have placed ourselves in a condition of perpetual responsibility and reform. But since we are not creating the world, since it was created before us and we are merely in it, and since we do not own it, our whole political concept is false. It is untrue. It is not based on reality or true life.
An artist must see this and give up all reform and political considerations. The world evolves due to changes that take place in individuals. By individuals I mean all living things.
The world evolves due to a growing awareness in the lives of all things and expressed in their actions. The actions of all things are guided by a growing awareness of life.
We call it inspiration. Living by inspiration is living. Living by intellect – by comparisons, calculations, schemes, concepts, ideas – is all a structure of pride in which there is not beauty or happiness – no life. The intellectual is in fact death.
We came into the world without husband, wife, friend, or companion. We may have many friends and acquaintances at the moment, and perhaps many enemies, too, but as soon as death falls upon us we shall leave all of them behind, like a hair pulled out of a slab of butter.
I admit it—I’m a change addict. I love new cities, apartments, jobs and friends. This can be both a strength and a weakness. On the one hand, I never shy away from a new experience or opportunity. On the other hand, it takes a concerted effort for me to stick with anything once the novelty wears off. So today I started thinking about all the ways I can make a day exciting without changing any of the big things that need to stay constant if I’m to make progress on my larger goals. Here’s what I’ve come up with:
- Start the day with a blank piece of paper and the question, “What if today were my last?” Write down what you’d do differently and then try to do at least 5 of those things.
- Wear something much bolder than you usually do. This gives people the opportunity to see you in a new light, which means they may interact with you differently.
- Take a different path when you walk to work. Maybe you’ll pass a restaurant you’d like to try sometime, or a gym that’s offering free classes.
- If you drive, park your car a mile away and take the bus the rest of the way. I did this one time and met a man on the bus who I dated for a month. Well worth the detour!
- If you take public transportation for your commute, make the time meditative or educational. Practice deep breathing, listen to soothing music, or download an audio book for the ride.
- Bring your camera and take pictures of things that catch your eye throughout the day. You’ll notice a lot more than you usually do—and new people will likely talk to you to figure out what you’re doing.
- Change your workspace. Bring new pictures and candles, or move your desk if you’re able. Rearranging furniture always makes my space more exciting.
- Start collecting something you often see throughout the day. It will make the whole day more interesting if you have your eyes peeled for rare coins, specific pens, and odd food labels.
- Make it a goal to talk to five people you don’t know. And I mean real conversations. Ask them what they do on the weekends, what their favorite memory is, and whether or not they like spam. (OK, the last one is less interesting—but I think it says a lot about you if you eat unidentifiable lunch meat.)
- Commit to complementing everyone you encounter on something. Sometimes it will be easy; sometimes it will be challenging. Every time it will brighten someone’s day and fill you with joy.
- Take a class during your lunch break. Head to the gym, learn to do pottery, start guitar lessons. You can always eat a sandwich at your desk later.
- Eat lunch at a different time than usual. You never know what you’re missing in the office when you head out at the same time every day.
- Make lunch and bring enough for two people—then offer some to someone in your office.
- Give yourself a challenge. Maybe it’s to find a lower car insurance rate or talk to someone you secretly admire. I get a big kick out of little victories like these.
- Read about a topic that’s completely new and interesting to you and then start a conversation about it. It’s always fun to share a new passion, especially if the other person gets excited, too.
- Learn 10 new words from a thesaurus, and then use them all twice during the day. Maybe I’m just a dork but I get excited about stretching my vocabulary!
- Practice mindfulness during a boring activity. In Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s book The Miracle of Mindfulness he explains how he stays fully present when washing the dishes—and enjoys it. Anything can be interesting if you get curious about how it works.
- Count risks. See how many (smart) risks you can take throughout the day—like accepting a difficult assignment or committing to something you’ve never done before.
- Say yes to everything. In the movie Yes Man, Jim Carrey said yes to absolutely everything—even an intimate moment with someone’s grandma. I’m not suggesting you go to that extreme, but you’ll likely have an exciting day if you say yes to most things you’re asked.
- Commit random acts of kindness. You’ll get a warm fuzzy feeling and you’ll create some good karma for yourself. You never know when that kindness will come back to you and open up your world.
- Bet on things. Once on The Office everyone bet on stupid things—like how long it would take Kelly to explain Netflix to Ryan, or whether Creed would notice they replaced his apple with a potato. If you’re pulling an all-nighter this could be a fun way to hold onto your sanity.
- Set up a profile on a dating site (if you’re single). I was on Match.com for a while—don’t laugh—and I have to admit I kind of watched my email like a kid counting down ‘til Christmas.
- Ask someone to come out to play. Kids are always willing to jump around, get messy, and give get their blood pumping. You still have legs and endorphins—tap into that. Play basketball after work, go bike riding, or spend some time on the swings.
- Learn something new during all your routine activities. When you buy coffee, ask the barista how long the shop has been there. When you make copies, pay attention to how the machine works.
- Swap apartments with a friend for a night. Assuming you trust each other, why not? A change of scenery can work wonders; and it’s always fun to see how someone else lives.
I once read that intelligent people are never bored because they’re always curious. You’re smart—start exploring! If you keep your mind engaged and fresh during your downtime, you’ll have far more passion and focus when it’s time to get productive. And equally important, you’ll enjoy more of the minutes that would otherwise just pass by.
By Lori Deschene
Why are we not more alive? The answer is one word: fear. One thing is at the root of everything that distorts or destroys life–and that is fear. We are simply afraid to be alive. Why are we afraid to be alive? Because to be alive means giving ourselves, and when we really give ourselves, we never know what’s going to happen to us. As long as we keep everything nicely under control, everything purpose-directed, everything in hand, there’s no danger, but no life either.