“Life is a mystery to be lived, not a problem to be solved.”
We, who in the eyes of society have achieved some degree of success, are left with an uneasy feeling: now what? Do we pursue more success and riches? Do we try for more security, more excitement, and more distraction? Do we find solace in religion, in our families, in the arts, in power, in charitable actions, in fantasy, in sex, in inner growth? Just what direction do we move in, and is it really worth moving in any direction at all?
Life is not always an easy affair but it certainly is a mysterious affair. It is a kind of school to which we all have come to learn certain lessons.
There are wars, famines, diseases and calamities – both, man-made and natural. And death is only the beginning of our problems. Existence is the biggest question – the answer to which we seek day in and day out. Over 3, 00,000 people die every day, well over 2 million a week. In the city of Mumbai alone there are over 5 million homeless people sleeping on the streets, in slums, in makeshift huts or out in the open. Many of the situations we live in or go through are the same again and again – but, the way we respond and the combinations of situations that arise for each one of us, moulds us in a certain way that is individual and uniquely ours.
Scientists know that the more deeply they fathom the mysteries of their chosen field, the more brand-new mysterious things popup. The mystics say much the same thing. They have explored the mysteries of their inner beings with a rare totality. Some have reached great plateaus of contentment and bliss. And yet they report that the mystery has no end. In fact, life just seems to get more and more magical. Each moment is an unexpected happening, another chance to explore another new mystery.
If this is true and life really is an endless exploration, it implies several things. One is that there is no end in itself that will provide us with perfect happiness and contentment and an ending to the learning process. This makes impossible to look into the future for some development that will change everything – if only I could win the lottery, or find time love, or fathom the secrets of the universe, then everything will be all right. It does not seem to work that way. This is, however, not to say that we should not seek love, fulfillment, happiness or whatever matters to us. It is more to suggest that within the search itself we will discover what we are seeking.
Or perhaps it is the way in which we seek the very fabric of our lives that is important. Maybe it is not the end that is important at all, but the means by which we move towards that end. All the mysteries talk about the present moment, right now, right here – that is where it is all happening. Sounding like a nice idea but one that is hard to live. Crammed like sardines in a local DTC bus, suffocating from lack of air, who wants to be here and now? Let me be anywhere else in the moment. Having said that, the fact remains that while we are on the crammed DTC or “Blue Line” bus, we are on the bus. It is that point that we are left with a rather momentous decision: do we do the seemingly obvious thing and suffer through the ride until we reach our destination. Or do we celebrate?
Celebrate what? When this situation is so terrible? Well that too is something. We can celebrate the terribleness of the moment. The absolute bottom line is: it’s all that’s happening right now, so why not make the most of it!
Life has its ups and downs, its good days and its bad days. It manifests like two sides of one coin, constantly flipping. But it appears that both are necessary in order for us to learn all the lessons that we are meant to learn. So why not celebrate bad along with the good? We have all had days when all of our plans have gone so wrong, all our hopes shattered, and we are on the point of despair. And then when it seems like nothing more can go wrong, something else does. And to our great surprise, instead of committing suicide right there on the spot, we start laughing, a full, deep and thoroughly enjoyable belly laugh. We laugh for no particular reason except at the whole ridiculous nature of our lives at that moment. And in that moment our whole focus has changed. We are celebrating. Everything that was wrong remains wrong, and yet we are no longer so involved, so it does not seem so serious and devastating. The very fact of being alive seems to bring us enough pleasure.
This is what celebrating means. And it does seem that we have the choice in each and every moment of our lives to celebrate or not to celebrate. We can celebrate joy and we can celebrate anger. We can celebrate love and we can celebrate heartache. We are still experiencing whatever it is that we are experiencing – that has not changed. What has changed is the place from which we are viewing things. If life really is a school, may be this is a very significant lesson we are in the middle of learning.
Celebration is a subtle shift in orientation. If we see that when something has gone wrong, we are not being punished by life but rather it is just the way it is sometimes, then we celebrate. And when we are in a mode of celebration we are more open to what is truly occurring in that moment and to what is to come.
Begin by really celebrating joyful occasions to their fullest. Then let yourself celebrate ordinary things: a sunset, the wind in the trees, the sound of laughter, a good joke; then let your mood carry over into everyday life. Washing the car, stuck in a traffic jam, turn everyday activity, even frustrations and aggravations, into celebration. Finally, let yourself experience the so-called bad things that happen to you. Do not run from them; don’t feel overly sorry for yourself; try celebration. Of course you will often forget and find yourself a hard time. When you finally notice yourself doing it, celebrate that too. If you cry, if you feel pain deeply and totally, if you are overwhelmed by occurrences, if you are angry and hateful – celebrate it. It just means you are alive and participating in life’s lessons. It can’t make things worse, but it does have the capacity to make things better.
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