“This too shall pass.” - Unknown
“Fulfill me, make me happy, make me feel safe, tell me who I am. The world cannot give you these things, and when you no longer have such expectations, all self-created suffering comes to an end.” - Eckhart Tolle
One of my first mentors had a genius for saying things that would get under my skin. One of the things that bothered me was his use of the phrase “This too shall pass.” Something “good” would happen and upon sharing it with him he would stoically say: “This too shall pass.” Something “bad” would happen and I was looking for solutions. “This too shall pass” he would say. Quite frankly I got sick of hearing it, and I was angered because I didn’t think he was empathetic enough. When things are good shouldn’t I revel in them so as to enjoy them to the fullest? And surely when things are bad a grave and somber demeanor is best if it is a solution we are after. Maybe this attitude would bring me some comfort during “bad” times, and surely this attitude would decrease my ability to enjoy the “good” times. Besides, if I turn myself into an emotionless drone, what is the use of living?
Of course I was missing the whole point. When I confuse my current circumstances with my identity I subject both my contentment and self worth to the whims of an ever changing world. Things that make me “happy” I both clutch and grasp at or I overindulge in, thus assuring that any “happiness” they will not linger for long. And things that make me “sad” I resist and fight, thus insuring that they will linger. As Tolle says, “What we resist persists, what we fight grows stronger.” Through such actions my attitude and my sense of self-worth are totally dependent upon the tides of “fate,” something over which I have not a bit of control. And because I have thus made myself vulnerable to things I cannot change I have given up my freedom of choice as it relates to my own emotions.
As with every other spiritual principle, putting this into practice yields the opposite result to what logic would dictate. Realizing that everything that arises will also pass is the first step toward detaching our identity from circumstances. When we stop staking our identity on the outcome of situations we are free to observe them in perspective. This perspective brings a GREATER appreciation for the “good” things and relieves much of the anxiety and fear over the “bad” things we face. And when we have given up on these expectations of the world, we begin to find the path we are here to follow.
Today, may I live in reality.
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