When you take a walk down a busy street downtown, you see hundreds of faces engrossed in their little Universe. All these faces have hopes, dreams, fears, problems and so on…and almost all of them are stressed on some level. Everyone seeks peace in life, but for some reason it seems a distant idea. But why has peace and tranquility eluded so many? Why do people perceive it as hard to achieve a peaceful state?
The answer is far more simple than we imagine. It is because you are looking for peace outside of yourself at a place where you are not present. You seek peace outside the experience you have in the here and now. And this very process adds to your stress.
By seeking peace outside your immediate experience, you differentiate between the experience you are having and yourself. You spend your time wishing that you could escape the situation you are in and have a better experience. But you fail to realise that you are what you experience. Everything that has happened to you in your life has shaped who you are. Without your experiences, you wouldn’t be this version of you. Separating yourself from the experience is not the way towards peace.
Watch this article in a video format:
Now you could argue that you are merely seeking meaning in life. But know that there is no meaning to seek. That’s because life itself is the meaning. The word meaning could be thought of as a sign that represents a word or action.
So, when you try to assign life meaning, you require external elements to provide it that meaning…and in doing so, you reduce it to nothing. It is because we look for everything other than life itself to provide us with the meaning we are seeking. And so, life becomes nothing but a symbol or a word that has no meaning in itself.
But that is not true because life in itself is meaningful. No external force is required to assign it something. Perhaps this is best understood through music or through flowers. When you listen to musical notes, you don’t try to assign them meaning all the time. You just listen and soak in all the emotions that it makes you feel. That’s meaning. When you smell a beautiful flower on your walk in the park, you don’t try to assign a meaning to that lingering smell. You admire the beauty without any external element. That’s meaning. We revel in the beauty of what we have just experienced.
You don’t rush and fast-forward your favourite music in order to find meaning. If you do that, you will neither enjoy it nor feel it. Neither do you swallow your favourite food as soon as you prepare it. If you do that, you will neither enjoy it nor digest it very well. It is the same in life. You can’t rush around trying to assign some illusory meaning to it….because life in itself is like a good piece of music, a beautiful sunset or a flower.
Life has that kind of meaning. It is meaning in itself. It is a wonderful pattern like mandala art. You have been conditioned since birth to think that you will see the meaning to it all only after you achieve something profound. Alan Watts has rightly said, “The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everybody rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves.”
The minute you try to seek meaning, it eludes you. The experiencer and the experience have to merge for you to fully understand the meaning. When you realise that you cannot escape this moment, you will then become the passive observer, immersed in your experience. Still, yet detached.
If you stay still in the moment and choose to experience it as it is, you realise it. The meaning has been right in front of you all this time. Even though seeking meaning in life can be a very engrossing task and often mysterious, the immediate now is the only answer you need. That is when you will finally take a good look at your real self as not this character you are playing, but a happening on a cosmic scale.
Now there will be times in your life when things might seem overwhelming or you feel people are out to get you or things are going against your favour. Even under such circumstances, life still has meaning. If you become the passive observer inside the eye of the storm, it will all appear as an act, a cosmic dance or a joyride that you experience for a little while between birth and death… and in that stillness, it is impossible for it to lack meaning.