I am trying to move forward with my life but am beset with doubts and feel very anxious about the future. My life is agony. What I want isn’t much, but still I’m not making any progress. I have no peace.
Have No Peace
Dear Have No Peace,
The Buddha taught that the source of all our suffering is craving. When you crave something as you do ... you want to change your life very badly ... whether it’s something large or small, close at hand or out of reach, you will suffer and be frustrated and anxious if you don’t attain what you want. And if you do, you will suffer because the mind always wants more; it is never satisfied with achieving one’s goal.
The problem is not that you’d like to make some change in your life; the problem is that you’re coming from a place that is lacking in equanimity. You do not embrace your life as it is now and find happiness in it. You are not at peace with the present. And so you are attached to your need to change. You crave it.
What you need to do is practice being present ... being aware that this is the only reality, all else is thought.
Then, you must practice being aware that all your feelings and perceptions are a product of your learned experience, a creature of your mind, and thus have no inherent existence. And when you achieve this awareness, choose to let your feelings go, to not be drawn into the web of your mind which only leads to frustration and anxiety.
At this point, you are able to be at one with all things, experiencing things directly with dispassion, free of labels, knowing that things are the way they are because it’s just the way it is. Then your mind rests undisturbed, all mental obstructions cease to be ... doubt and confusion, fear and anxiety, anger and negativity ... and thus at peace, you will be open to receiving all that the present moment has to offer, be grateful, and find happiness in each moment.
Only when you have achieved this state will you be in a state of equanimity from which you can plan to make changes in your life without getting caught up in the web of your ego-mind. As my song, “There’s Nothing Like Today,” says, if you aren’t at peace in the present, you won’t be at peace in the future.
You have a clear and practical choice to make. Do you really want to be at peace and content? If so, you need to follow the path of the Buddha as best you can and not be drawn into the web of your ego-mind.
Obviously, this process I’ve summarized is far more complex and difficult than I’ve been able to discuss in my response. For more on this, see my blog post, “End of Suffering Cheat Sheet,” as well as the other posts referred to as well as my books.