Eating my lunch too fast, I realised that I was missing all its deliciousness, so I slowed down and began to enjoy it enormously, and realised that life is just like this. Why rush through missing its goodness?
I spent 8 years quite immersed in Buddhist texts, and books from other traditions, and though I now read much less from these books, this verse continually surfaces as my favourite. From the Buddhist text ‘The Discourse on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone’:
“Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is in the very here and now, the practitioner dwells in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait till tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who dwells in mindfulness night and day, ‘the one who knows the better way to [live].’”
Translation from the wonderful book/commentary ‘Our Appointment with Life‘ by Thich Nhat Hanh.
To ‘dwell in stability and freedom’, in peace, means to live free from all the things in our mind that keep us from enjoying life right now. This is wonderfully explained in this passage, also from the same book:
“I want to tell you that there is a wonderful way to [live]. It is the way of deep observation to see that the past no longer exists and the future has not yet come … to dwell at ease in the present moment, free from desire. When a person lives in this way, he has no hesitation in his heart. He gives up all anxieties and regrets, lets go of all binding desires, and cuts the fetters which prevent him from being free. There is no more wonderful way of [living] than this…
In observing life deeply,
It is possible to see clearly all that is,
Note enslaved by anything,
It is possible to put aside all craving.
The result is a life of peace and joy.”
So, to live in the present… free from exhausting desires… with no anxieties and regrets… not enslaved by anything…
What enslaves me? Everyone can answer that question for themselves and work out how to free themselves. Perhaps many things!
Why rush through life, enslaved by anything, missing all its goodness?