Monday, December 12, 2016

You Don't Know What You've Got When You're Gone

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone,” they say.

How come?

Many would reason that it’s just the way life is; a part of human nature.

To some extent I agree with this, but it’s certainly not my final answer.

How It’s Been

For ages untold we’ve lived very limited lives. Our primary driving force has been the constant fight for resources, survival, dominion, and so forth. Add in countless self-protective beliefs and fears passed down through the generations, and we have quite an intense concoction of perception-distorting and life-inhibiting ick.

All this internal weight has us setting our focus of concern and personal identity on a difficult past and an uncertain future. This offers a large clue as to why we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone: Though living our lives moment-by-moment in appearance, due to a lack of conscious body, mind, spirit integration, we do not actually engage with each arising moment anew but as a reaction (subtle or overt) to the perceptual distortion of a past-future lens.

And so through to the present day, even while a great many of us live in relative safety and abundance, most of humanity still plods along with the old weight.

We take the bus into center city and can’t take our eyes off the scruffy-looking man with all the piercings and tattoos. Though we don’t know him, our mind never stops imagining all the scenarios of how he’s a threat to our well-being. So zeroed-in are we in our automatic-judgment focus that we miss the numerous signs of his friendliness.

We go on vacation and take 195 thousand pictures to remember the past on some future day. “My, oh, my,” we say when it’s time to leave. “That went so fast.”

We drive to work with our focus on the job we’ve been busy with. When we finally arrive, a coworker asks how the traffic was and we cannot seem to recall it.

We’ve been living whole lives like this, so fixated on past and future and false threats that attentiveness to now has been virtually unimaginable. Most humans, I'm sure, have never even considered that they've not been present. Our bodies are here, and our minds are merely focused on matters that are either perceived as life-critical or part of the seemingly unavoidable thought-stream of “who I am.”

The Old Saying

The old saying—“You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”—is one suggestive of fear, regret, lack, loss, and longing. It invokes sadness and dissatisfaction at the transience of things, at the brevity of experience.

Thankfully, these things are not inherent human concerns—they are either the ways of creation’s flow (transience, for instance), or they are the consequence of learned egoic grasping for what is not. (The most base survival fears are fine. It’s the mentalization of fear, “the story,” that consumes sanity.)

Life focuses on life—now—and all is eternally perfect and precise. Which means the perceived struggle is not an external inconsistency but an internal one. Only to an untamed ego-mind is the now not good enough and the past and future made vastly more important. An imbalanced psyche, emotional instability, and a troubled physical experience are the natural outcome.

No wonder we don’t know what we’ve got until it’s gone: We’re typically so caught up in past and future, rather than what is occurring immediately before and within us, that we miss out on fully experiencing the present moment—the only when there ever is. A large part of our “experiencing” therefore only comes to us in hindsight, if we can remember it at all.

A Brighter Future

I have a new saying:

You don’t know what you’ve got when you’re gone.

Because life is always unfolding here and now—it’s we who have been away.

As a collective, this is what we are now learning. We are not our past and future: neither have any power over us unless we consent.

Which is to say that we can free ourselves from the shackles of fear, of regret, of loss and longing, of lack and disappointment; we can cease our grasping for what is not.

Which is to say that, just as the rest of life flows, so can we flow with the ever-renewing here and now unfoldment of all things, experiencing life fully in each moment.

To do so, we must shift our attention to what is happening right here and now; we must see life as painted over a canvas of silence and stillness rather than under a set of self-betraying beliefs and fears.

What could be more straightforward than that?

Nothing. Because we are already here and now. There’s really nothing to do except be.

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