There are a few very simple, undeniable, and basic observations we can make about the state of being human.
First, we are all in some way or other constantly preoccupied with changing phenomena. Human consciousness is continually tracking something that is changing. Have you noticed? This activity is almost unceasing except at night, when there is relative unconsciousness—sleep. During waking and dreaming hours, consciousness is constantly velcroed to something which is changing.
Relationship is an example. When it is not there, we may be quite happy without it. Then along it comes. Consciousness glues onto it and says, “my relationship,” and all may be well for a while. Then, at a certain point, the person either leaves, or dies, or things somehow change, and there is no longer “my relationship.” It disappears again, and we suffer. We velcro attention in this way to all kinds of situations, people and things: my finances, my car, my family, my children. In fact “my life” is composed of all the different things which attention has fixated on.
This is the human condition. At a microscopic level, moment to moment, consciousness is fixating on thoughts. First, there is no thought. Then a thought arises and attention glues onto it, and everything else has disappeared. When a thought comes of “my dinner,” everything else is gone, and “my dinner” is all that remains. Then the thought disappears, and later we cannot even remember what it was.
The same is true with “my feelings.” First, there is nothing there; then anger comes. We don’t generally have the experience that “I am experiencing anger.” Instead we say, “I am angry now.” The object, which is being seen through the filter of anger, is now completely colored by the anger.
Similarly, feelings in “my body” completely overshadow awareness. We say “I am sick,” or “I am tired,” and we identify completely with these feelings.
This is the human condition. I am not aware of anyone who is immune to this, are you? Maybe Sri Sri Sri Banananandaraj claims to be, but I have not actually met anybody who is immune to this changing procession of phenomena. This is our lot as human beings.
The other undeniable thing about being human is that we undergo a fair amount of unnecessary suffering. By this I don’t mean the inevitable aches and pains in the body or the unavoidable changing phenomena of life; people die, things shift and change. What I am pointing to is unnecessary suffering, the anguish created by thought that is simply unnecessary. It is difficult to see this in ourselves. We don’t think, “Oh, I’m experiencing some unnecessary suffering now.” Instead, we say to ourselves, “I’ve got a raw deal. I’m married to a complete idiot,” or “My kids are driving me crazy,” or “My job is just not right for me, I don’t make enough money and I can’t pay the bills.” We tell ourselves that it is because of these things that we suffer.
If you look at someone else, say your next-door neighbor or a friend, this is where the unnecessary suffering really shows up. If you look at somebody else who is all churned up, to them it seems like they have a really serious problem, but all you want to say is, “Just relax. If you could just be a little patient and relax; everything is fine.” Don’t you have that feeling sometimes when you are with your family or friends? It is easy to see the unnecessary struggle in those around us, but it is hard to see it in ourselves.
These are inevitable, undeniable facts about the human condition. There is nothing especially spiritual, enlightened or esoteric about it. This is just a simple fact that consciousness is constantly gluing onto changing events and that we suffer unnecessarily. It is very simple.
This is an excerpt from Arjuna’s book, How About Now: Satsang with Arjuna. Click here to purchase your copy today!
photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbird/284886653/, http://openupblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/content-highlights-arctium-lappa-and.html, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkcotton/3456659016/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/47217301@N06/7148314617/