Buddha was absolutely right: Life is a bitch, and then you die. That’s a good translation of the first of the four great truths Buddha gave us in his famous first talk. It’s undeniably true, life is unsatisfactory in so many ways, life is suffering, but there are other great truths as well, fortunately, because it is also undeniably true that there is a state of being that is beyond suffering.
There’s a way out of suffering, always. Not only that: we already know what it is, but we just keep forgetting it and have to remember it over and over again. We can sum it up in one sentence — grasp it in an instant — and there are so many different ways to express it, so many different words, different paths for different people! All we need to do is remember one word or one phrase of guidance that we heard — perhaps today, perhaps a long time ago. All we need to do is remember what we already know.
Here’s one way to put it — and it’s something you already know —
Your focus creates your reality.
When you’re complaining about something in your life that is not working — your husband, your wife, your partner, your child, your work, your financial situation, your body, your anxieties, the state of the world, your state of mind — look at what you’re focusing on: it’s the half-empty side of the glass. You keep looking at what is not working in your life. You keep thinking about your problems, sometimes so much it becomes obsessive. The same thoughts and feelings keep arising, over and over.
That is the problem — that nearly constant stream of thoughts about your problems. The problem isn’t out there in the world; it is within you. Who would have thought that our thinking is the problem? Our thoughts don’t want to go there — who wants to admit that they’re the problem?
This is a great discovery to make, however, because we can affect and change our thoughts far more easily than we can affect and change someone else or something else in the outer world. How do we do that? By focusing on what’s working, and by focusing on the solutions rather than on the problems.
We know what the problems are. We don’t have to dwell on them or constantly return to them. We get the problem, very quickly. What’s the best thing to do about that problem? The intelligent thing to do is to brainstorm with ourselves about possible positive solutions and even try to imagine what an ideal solution would be — our “ideal scene” for that situation. And even more importantly, the smart thing to do is to keep reminding ourselves about the things that are working in our lives.
Focus on what’s working in your relationships. A whole lot of good things have happened in your past and are happening right now — if you just focus on them.
Be grateful for what you have; be especially grateful for who you are — a body, a mind, and a spirit that are phenomenal creations of the forces of life. Be grateful.
As Eckhart Tolle says so beautifully in The Power of Now:
Stop looking outside for scraps of pleasure or fulfillment,
for validation, security, or love —
you have a treasure within that is infinitely greater
than anything the world can offer.
Every great sage and teacher says the same thing, in many different words. The Kingdom of Heaven is within. There is an end to suffering, and we find it within our hearts and minds.
Marc Allen is a renowned author, composer, and speaker. On the day he turned thirty, Marc cofounded New World Library with Shakti Gawain, and as the company's president and publisher, he has guided it from a small start-up operation with no capital to become one of the leading publishers in its field. He has written numerous books, including The Greatest Secret of All, Visionary Business, The Millionaire Course, and The Type-Z Guide to Success. His new book, The Magical Path will be available in October 2012. He is a popular speaker and seminar leader based in the San Francisco Bay Area.