Life Is Verbing.

Via on Feb 10, 2011

Discovering Meditation In America- Part Three:

Life Is Verbing.

Spirituality is an internal inquiry into the causes and conditions that give rise to our dissatisfaction.

Let’s begin our inquiry into the causes of suffering by mentioning the backdrop of impermanence.

Everyone and their mom knows intellectually that the whole lot of existence is in a state of endless revolution. On the other hand, few people go through life truly conscious of this fact. We simply ignore the way things actually are. So the point of this discussion and the practiced introduced in the video below, is not to explain impermanence to you, but to point it out; to wake you up to the truth of change.

Alan Watts use to compare life to music. The point of music is music. People enjoy listening to music for the rhythm, the stream of melody. No one is listening to music to hear it end. If they were, then, as Watts suggested, their favorite songs would be the ones that ended immediately, with one single uproar of noise. Life is the same way. The point of Life is Life, to participate in the melody or live. The only way to participate is through simple awareness.

The problem is that we see ourselves as some permanent thing apart from the music, so we are all the time trying to pause the song so that we can relate with it. We are far too busy conjuring up fantasies, and trying to impregnate reality with them, to experience “one-ment” with the music, to actually hear the song.

Before we can begin to discuss how ego repeatedly tries to pause the music, we must understand the need in solidifying space. In order to do this, we must develop some general idea of what is meant by the ego. The ego is nothing more than a concept, a mental formation. In and of itself, this concept has no meaning; it is just a collection of thoughts swirling around an empty center. This empty center is what thought perceives as the poverty mentality or missing mentality described last week…

The ego derives a sense of purpose or direction from its interactions with “other.” It seeks to ignore the empty center by stuffing it full of expired experiences. It is the ultimate hoarder!  The ego constructs meaning or identity through its associations with “everything else.” So the ego is not only a concept, it is a concept which is defined by things that are other than ego…

The ego is dependent upon relationship or entertainment, which is dependent upon separation… So, the ego has to experience itself as distinct and separate from life. As a result, we are discontented or feel lifeless.

Upholding this segregationist stance is necessary if any sort of relationship or interaction with life is to be possible. It is through this relationship with “everything else” that the “ego” receives a receipt, a proof of purchase so to speak. Based on the vouchers ego has managed to stockpile throughout its many lives a type of identity is formed. It is this relationship with the “everything else” category that defines the ego, but in order to have this relationship there must be some-thing other than ego, and therefore distance or space between the two. The ego’s very existence is dependent upon freezing or preserving this contrived unit of separation…

Through the medium of ignore-ance, thought is perceived to be the representative of some mysterious figure known as the self. So, there appears to be someone who owns and manages all of our experiences. We imagine ourselves to be a solid thing with intrinsic characteristics. Now imagine for a moment the problems one is bound to experience if they view themselves as a solid thing in a fluid world…

Things change. If we think that we do not, we will always feel ill-equipped or out of place, like a foreigner in our own skin. Take for a moment the transition between being single and in a relationship. When you are single you develop a lifestyle that that doesn’t have to take into consideration another person. You can wake up in the morning drink your coffee, read the paper, have breakfast, go to work, go to the gym, hang out with friends, etc. When you bring another person into the mix you cannot continue to operate on the same schedule. The situation has changed, so your old schedule is outdated. This is not a problem. We assume it is, but it isn’t.

We think it is a problem because, we experience ourselves in a particular way, as a static entity that does certain things. A situation that doesn’t allow for us to do those certain things at specific times threatens our sense of self. This is because our sense of self is nothing more than a snap shot of the past. We experience ourselves as if we were portraits.

Now many people say we should not have to give up who we are in order to be in a relationship. This is our way of saying that from where I sit there is a problem with change! The problem being, the present moment will not allow me to be who I am so long as who I am is based on past information. This more or less always the problem; intimate relationships are just the most obvious example of this dynamic.

I say, if you do not have to give up who you are, then you are not in a serious relationship… In fact, if you do not have to give up who you are every moment of every day, then you are not in the moment! Changing situations should affect my behavior. That is sanity; allowing new information to affect my behavior. Lets’s say I am at a bar talking with friends, and a man walks in holding a shot-gun and says, “Next son of bitch who says a word gets shot in the head!” I am not going to hold fast to the belief that I should talk because that is what I was doing! Rather, I will allow the new information to affect my behavior.

Allowing thought to be a reflection of change is sanity. From this point of view, thought is always fresh because, life is always changing. This is original thought. We are not other than life. Thought is not other than life. Everything is an expression of life, and life is change.

We have to accept the fact that we cannot wrestle happiness out of this world simply by putting life in a head-lock, and forcing it to play with us. We have to see that life is change, change is life; that they are one in the same thing. Furthermore, we are not somehow other than this change, we are Life. Confusion and discontentment arise from the mistaken belief that we are a solid entity. Happiness, peace, and contentment are by products of the recognition that we are a verb.

Please Watch the video below (audio is fixed, Yay!) There is a basic practice meant to initiate the restoration of sanity.

YouTube Preview Image

Now let’s get some discussion going:

How do you relate to change… With grace? Or resistance?

Do you feel as though you are somehow other than change? Like you are a static entity that does not participate in change but observes it?

Can you recall any instances where, perhaps not intellectually but in practice, you were literally trying to freeze life? Stop the unceasing flow of change?

About Benjamin Riggs

Ben Riggs is the director of the Refuge Meditation Group in Shreveport, LA. Ben writes extensively about Buddhist & Christian spirituality for Elephant Journal, and The Web of Enlightenment. To keep up with all of his work follow him on Facebook or Twitter. He also teaches at Explore Yoga. Looking for a real bio? Click here to read my story....



28 Responses to “Life Is Verbing.”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Refuge Meditation, Red Fox. Red Fox said: Life Is Verbing. […]

  2. Sarah says:

    Brilliant Ben… I love it… I always like to say "let it go and let it flow"….
    Thank you for sharing…

  3. Chris Randall says:

    wow i just realized that i have been fighting change and trying to force change for the past 40 years the past year and a half ive been getting better slowly and i am starting to be less resistant but i do find myself with remnants of the spiritual materialism that kept me down for so long i find myself wanting and instead of letting my life progress as it is meant to i attempt to force myself and others to conform to my desires and beliefs. thanks for the new thoughts good stuff to flow with

  4. Stressless says:

    I feel the only time I notice change for the most part is when it is difficult.. and I notice that the difficulty brings forth a basic feeling of FEAR. Of course I'm afraid of fear.. or hurt.. physical and mental.. so I resist change.. and yet if and when I do decide that I've had enough of this loosing sleep or obsessing about it.. or looking away from it (straining), well, then i look directly into it with courage (as fleeting as that sometimes is), and if I can sustain the concentration on it without flinching then it becomes less and less powerful, letting go of its hold on me.

  5. TamingAuthor says:

    One line gave me pause: "Furthermore, we are not somehow other than this change, we are Life."

    Do you perhaps see how this contradicts the basic teachings on cessation of attachment to the aggregates? In the teachings, we look at all phenomena and we see that all phenomena are constantly changing. We see that the nature of fabricated phenomena is constant change.

    At the same time, we see that we are not those fabrications. We are not that which changes. All that changes is not self. And the task, in the practice, according to the teachings, is to cease attachment to that which is not self, that which is fabricated phenomena, that which changes.

    Do you see how that might contradict the idea that "we are not somehow other than this change"? It appears that we are exactly somehow other than this change, as we are not fabricated phenomena, but rather a Buddha, one who has Buddha Nature, which is unborn, unconditioned, unchanging, timeless, and formless.

    Is there a need to qualify or detail the idea further? Is there a way we can bring these aspects of the teachings into a consistent relationship?

  6. yogi mat says:

    Standard nihilism masquerading as dharma – nothing to see here people – we are nothing – life is process – yawn yawn – lets all enjoy it – group hugs – don't forget to smell the roses – yeah yeah – we got it 2500 years ago. Now wonder people backslide into God when all they have is flakey Dharma like this.

  7. […] For more on change and our relationship to it, check out, “Life is Verbing.” […]

  8. […] Impermanence now appears, not as unified stream of energy, but as a million different things happening to us… […]

  9. […] centralized observer- the ego- created the concept of time. Time, then transformed impermanence- the unceasing ebb and flow of life- into millions of events swarming around us all at once… Life seemed to be attacking us from […]

  10. […] and individual awareness—the enlightened mind—underlying this eternal revolution. ~from Life Is Verbing by Ben […]

  11. […] Three: Life Is Verbing. Excerpt: “Allowing thought to be a reflection of change is sanity. From this point of view, […]

  12. […] Life as Meaning and Life Is Verbing by Benjamin […]

  13. […] the internal challenges run rampant. The “shoulds” weigh on my shoulders and the self-imposed guilt when I decline invitations and remove myself from generalized “busy-ness” of happenings, […]

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