And of course it leads to dissatisfaction with the present, which means that we can find no peace or happiness in the present. Because we want something different that we don’t have and don’t know if we will have. Or because we want things to be the same and we can have no assurance that they will be.
We are like a gerbil in the wheel. We have set ourselves up for never-ending samsara.
There is only one way out. To accept that things are the way they are because its just the way it is and release all desire that your life be different in any way right now at this moment. Part of that is accepting that we have no control over what the future will bring. See my posts, “It’s Just the Way It Is,” and “Releasing All Desire - II.”
The centrality of this action or attitude to ending our suffering is clear from the Buddha’s teaching of the Four Noble Truths, the Serenity Prayer, and the Acceptance Prayer. There is no end of suffering without accepting your life as it is right now.
When the Buddha set the wheel of the dharma turning and taught the Four Noble Truths, he taught the cause of our suffering is our craving … and what is craving but wanting to have what we don’t have, wanting our life to be different in some way from the way it is right now.
The first part of the Serenity Prayer says, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change and the serenity to just be.” And what are the things we cannot change … the way things are right now at this moment.
And what does the Acceptance Prayer say? “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I will find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is at this moment.”
As I have noted often in my writing, this does not mean that one doesn’t plan for changing one’s life in some way in the future. But it does mean that one doesn’t attach to that plan or happening; that one approaches it with the attitude, “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t, that’s ok too.” As a result, one doesn’t obsess about the plan or the future.
Since we are humans, an important part to accepting our life as it is right at this moment is knowing what we can change … which is how we relate to ourselves and to the world around us … and that is what will truly end our suffering. That is freeing us from our ego-mind.
And when we are able to do that, when we are one with our heart, then we know that we will be ok, we will be safe, regardless what life throws our way because we have returned home to our heart, to our true Buddha nature, and so are at peace and happy. We will have opened up our heart and embraced all our being and experience, past, present, and future (see my post, “The Heart’s Embrace). And so we are able to say truthfully and deeply, “I am at peace, content, and happy right now and will always be in the future, regardless.”
This is the wisdom of now. When our mind rests undisturbed, we are open to receiving all that the present moment has to offer, be grateful, and take pleasure in each passing moment. True faith pervades our mind. We are at peace. This is nirvana because, as the Heart Sutra says, our minds are free of fear and obstructions and so we are free of fear and obstructions.