Yesterday I talked a bit about the path that each of us carves through life, our individual journeys through this world and how we are here in the middle of that journey, the only place we can be – now. We can’t be in the past or the future. Only our minds can wander through the landscapes of the past, landscapes that are coloured and textured with the remembered facts, facts that are are constantly shape-shifting to fit our own changing levels of consciousness. What were the real facts? It would depend on who you asked and why you asked and how you asked. A video replay of the past would show the facts through the lens of the person who had taken the video, so even a video replay would be suspect in terms of being the factual and whole truth.
As for the future, each of us projects wishes and fears into that future creating a story that rarely, if ever, turns out the way we have imagined. I know that I have prepared so many lessons for so many courses based on what I knew both of the course contents and my students. And yet, each time, I found that what I had planned for and what actually occurred never matched up. The closest I ever came to matching up was when I ignored the students and simply presented the lesson as planned – the worst lessons I have ever taught. The best lessons grew out of simply knowing the course, the students and being fully present and watching the lessons evolve through the continual flow of presence between myself, my students and the subject material that mostly served as an excuse for us to be authentically together.
I “should” have learned from this lived experience that was teaching me about authentic presence and living in the moment, but, I wasn’t ready to take those lessons to heart, where they need to go if one is ever going to move closer and closer to being a peace with oneself and with the world. Saying that and now hearing that, I realise that “shoulds” get in the way and that one simply just has to stay present on the path without forcing the path into one direction or another. Forcing the direction of one’s path is not about being present on the path, but about projecting about the future and trying to control that future. I am a slow learner and it is just very recently that I have come to accept to some degree, that I just have to let it evolve and pay attention. Pema Chodron says it well:
“Gradually, without any agenda except to be honest and kind, we assume responsibility for being here in this unpredictable world, in this unique moment, in this precious human body.”