Normally, we think life and living is all this fancy stuff – experiences, joys, interests, accomplishments, our conceptions of things, possessions, social status, and so on. This is how it appears at first glance. It seems to suggest that life is found here. But, if this is the case, then why do these things seem empty so often? There is often a point in a persons life where these things just seem to fail. For many of us, this can reach crisis proportions. If this is the case then how can these things be called ‘life’? Most certainly, there must be more to it than that.
Over the years I’ve begun to see that what is often considered ‘life’ really is not. Sure, it is a part of life but it certainly isn’t ‘life’. In many ways, they are just icing on the cake, fancy decoration, an illusion. The real meat of the matter, it seems to me, lies elsewhere.
I’ve always thought that the ‘basic element’ of the passion of life can be described in this way:
It’s that ‘thing’ that keeps you going.
No matter what happens, good or bad, there is always a ‘thing’, a ‘something’, that keeps you going. Even though it may not seem like it, there is always a part of us that strives to live.
Often, this ‘basic element’ is hidden by all sorts of things, such as our mentalities, our views of ourselves and the world, and so on. It appears that to see this ‘basic element’ a person has to uncover all the stuff that’s been piled on top of it. And so, because of this, a big part of revealing life’s passion is to shed away all the fancy things you’ve placed on it.
This ‘basic element’ is like a foundation that all life is built upon . . . . everything rests upon it. And like a foundation it becomes hidden, hardly noticeable, if at all.
A good time to see the ‘basic element’ is when you are feeling low, I think. There it seems there’s nothing. Feeling dragged down its as if nothing will help you. Allowing yourself to think this way your mind wanders all over the place finding reasons why this is so, and finding all sorts of proof to support it. But, yet, there is a ‘thing’ behind it all which keeps you going. Unaware of this, we drag ourselves down, killing ourself with worry or concern, feeling as if we’re going to die.
It’s times like that is good to stop and ‘feel’ that ‘basic element’.
Can you feel it?
Look! I still breath. Look! I still think. Look! I still am. Are things really that bad? Ceasing my thought, ceasing my conceptions, ceasing my wants, all that fades, all that seems insignificant. I can see it was all . . . in my mind.
Can you feel it? There’s something more . . . the ‘basic element’.
This ‘basic element’ seems to be unemotional. It seems to be more like a ‘fact’ to me. It ‘is’. One of the hard aspects of this problem is that it is so unemotional. It makes it seem impersonal. In a way, its frightening. And because it just ‘is’ it seems to lead you nowhere. It’s true, that the ‘basic element’ leads you nowhere. It leads you here, to life! Look around . . . do you see it. The fact is this: you’re already there.
What! Do you think you need all that? Do you think you need all that fancy stuff? Do you think you need all that glamour?
Normally, in the experience of life we expect to go somewhere, to experience, to have new things. These things, really, only create the illusion of living.
The ‘basic element’ is only that which ‘is’. It needs no justification. It needs no approval. It needs no theory. It needs no philosophizing. It needs no objects. It needs no possessions. It is what it is . . . a constant. Like the blood flowing in our veins it is always there with us, keeping us going.
Do you feel it?
Often, I stop in the course of the day and hear the silence. Nothing is going on. The world seemed to of stopped. Then I find myself saying, “it doesn’t get better than this.” It doesn’t either. Stop and listen. Here it is, the basic foundation of life . . . the constancy . . . this is the ‘basic element’. Everything rests upon this. Getting to know this ‘basic element’, and getting accustomed to it, helps to be more alive, I think. But getting used to the ‘basic element’ is not easy. It takes time. Really, getting accustomed to the ‘basic element’ essentially amounts to breaking the habit of having to ‘have’ things – experiences, thoughts, objects, and so on. This is not easy. It’s like going on a diet and having to refuse all the stuff you’ve grown to love.
Yes, getting to know the ‘basic element’ is not easy.
This is not to say that life should be focused on the ‘basic element’. No, I did not say that. What I’m saying is that, at least for some us, we need to rediscover the ‘basic element’, to let its awareness back into our life, to let its reality live within us. For some people, probably most, it may mean nothing.