Nothing is what we thought.

From Pema Chödrön:

“We think that if we just meditated enough or jogged enough or ate perfect food, everything would be perfect. But from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death. Seeking security or perfection, rejoicing in feeling confirmed and whole, self-contained and comfortable, is some kind of death. It doesn’t have any fresh air. There’s no room for something to come in and interrupt all that. We are killing the moment by controlling our experience. Doing this is setting ourselves up for failure, because sooner or later, we’re going to have an experience we can’t control: our house is going to burn down, someone we love is going to die, we’re going to find out we have cancer, a brick is going to fall out of the sky and hit us on the head, somebody’s going to spill tomato juice all over our white suit, or we’re going to arrive at our favorite restaurant and discover that no one ordered produce and seven hundred people are coming for lunch.”

The trick is to keep exploring and not bail out, even when we find out that something is not what we thought. That’s what we’re going to discover again and again and again. Nothing is what we thought.

Things are always in transition, if we could only realize it. Nothing ever sums itself up in the way that we like to dream about. The off-center, in-between state is an ideal situation, a situation in which we don’t get caught and we can open our hearts and minds beyond limit. It’s a very tender, nonaggressive, open-ended state of affairs. To stay with that shakiness—to stay with a broken heart, with a rumbling stomach, with the feeling of hopelessness and wanting to get revenge—that is the path of true awakening. Sticking with that uncertainty, getting the knack of relaxing in the midst of chaos, learning not to panic—this is the spiritual path.

Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.”

Author Beth Arnold (Click here for Beth Arnold’s website) posted this on Facebook this morning and I cried reading it. The first tears came at the second sentence… …from the point of view of someone who is awake, that’s death.

I’ve been on this spiritual journey since I was seven. I’ve been doing the work alongside a… shall I call it a knowledge, an understanding, that one day everything would be… I don’t know… comfortable. Complete. I pictured myself sitting back and putting my feet up. That one day the work would be done.

Put it this way, I totally got where Thanos was coming from as he pottered about in his garden and cooked that weird looking vegetable thing for his dinner. His work was done. He could finally relax.

And now I find out that I’ve been barking up the wrong bloody tree? Of course I have. I’ve been deluding myself but then I suspected all along that there was no finish line. Nothing is what we thought.