Monday, November 2, 2015

Changing the Time

"Moon in the Morning"
- At the Desert Retreat House -

Yesterday, I saw a posting on my Facebook page that actually made me laugh out loud. In an attempt to offer a friendly reminder to his online friends, someone said: Remember, it will get darker earlier this evening because we changed the time today. While I got the gist of what this person was saying, I also found it very humorous to imagine that the earth and the stars will align differently and the sun will set at a different time because human beings pushed a few buttons or turned back the hands of their clocks.  

For me, Yesterday’s posting about “changing time” pointed to a fairly prevalent underlying assumption in today’s popular culture – many people often fool themselves into thinking that we can control almost everything when in truth we can control almost nothing.

At its core, the desire to control is essentially “narcissistic” – it stems directly from the machinations of an unchecked ego. People often orchestrate the events of their lives because they want the world to operate according to their own designated agenda; and so they carefully plan and strategize, they attempt to control the lives of their children, spouses or friends, they try to control the weather and at some level they even believe that they control the time by pushing the clock backward by an hour.

A few days ago, while reading a magazine of Buddhist essays, I came across this wise observation about our human propensity to “control” our lives:

We try to control things because we are afraid of what will happen if we don’t.

For me this “hits the nail on the head.” My guess is that, for the most part, the need to control stems from a deep-rooted fear that something bad may happen to “me” if I don’t somehow orchestrate what happens in my life.

The funny thing is that for the most part it is what it is and regardless of what any of us might say or do most of the time our life simply happens, and we have very little control over it. I can (and do) equip my house with supplies to help me if an earthquake hits here in Southern California, but I can’t control an earthquake from happening - it is what it is. And the light of day doesn’t fade any earlier because I happen to change back the dials on my clock – it just happens.  It is what it is and I think we find that deeper peace and greater happiness when we learn how to enjoy what is rather than foolishly try to control it.

I am reminded of something Eckhart Tolle once said:

Always say yes to the present moment.
What could be more futile than to create inner resistance to what already is?
Say yes to life
and see how life suddenly starts working for you again.

It seems to me that the more I learn how to give up control the less I will cling tightly to my life, and the more fully alive I can be.

There is a saying attributed to the Buddha:
In the end these things matter most:
How well did you love?
How fully did you live?
How deeply did you let go?

There is more darkness than daylight at this time of the year and this has nothing whatsoever to do with what I did to my clock yesterday – just one more opportunity for me to embrace and enjoy the beauty of the starlit sky in the desert nights.

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