Thoughts from a talk given by Matrul Rimpoche in Canterbury 10th January 2014
Before starting the topics discussed by Matrul Rimpoche the thing which instantly struck was his humility and self-deprecating sense of humour. Two great qualities as one to quieten the ego that can misguide us and we all need a sense of humour to withstand up’s and downs of life. With humour we lighten our mood and of those around us.
Technology has been wonderful in the development of communication and entertainment yet our continued reliance on it has taken us away from who we are. Technology however has caused us to be continually busy on our phones, computer, gaming and other entertaining distractions that have left us little time to simply be ourselves. This has caused many people to become less comfortable to be with themselves. It is our reliance on technology that has created an extreme of doing or doing nothing, empty and probably bored. By seeking solely entertainment in life we can easily drift away from who we truly are.
It is however by creating quiet times that we can calm the mind and restore clarity lost to the clamour of technology and living solely for emotional experience. From my personal experiences when we solely live this way our emotions cause us to become frazzled as we overload our system. Over the last few years we have seen the rise in stress, anxiety and fear that stop people functioning with any flow, and for one it happened to me as I chased career above all else. Tai Chi has been my route to learn to let go of emotion and restore calm within the body and mind. For many others their way has been through mindfulness and meditation. Each has its merits but all that matters is that we find the way that suits us.
It is not just technology that has taken us away from living from within as our education system and modern learning is about learning external knowledge rather than discovering who we are from within. These are two quite different things as knowledge is learnt externally yet our wisdom comes from within. To help create a stable base to live in a balanced way and to interact positively with the external world it is good to spend time to look within and understand two key things, core values and what is our purpose in life. As Matrul Rimpoche said “However random the world and individuals may appear there is always a reason for being” We are all individuals with unique skills and abilities and knowing how we can use them to add positively to the world creates our purpose. “Who am I” be patient to discovering your purpose (Matrul Rimpoche). It takes time living and developing to discover our purpose which in itself changes during a lifetime as nothing is permanent. Yet if we know our core values as we develop they act as our moral compass and continual guide. Our core values act as the roots in life, giving stability in turbulent times.
As we look within to get to know ourselves we will encounter many conflicting thoughts and ideas of who we are. It is at these times that using techniques such as mindfulness and Tai Chi give us the tools to develop deep relaxation and calm. It is in the calm that emotions are controlled and clarity can unravel the confusion, finding solutions to questions and problems without bias. It is when we develop a broad perspective and look at life openly that we can see the reality of the situation.
As discussed by Matrul Rmipoche we cannot live life as a fantasy but need to be practical and live with reality as we cannot avoid the ups and downs of life as they are the natural order. They are also our way to develop greater wisdom as we learn from each. To withstand life it is good to develop flexibility like water. Water has the power to cut diamonds and shape mountains yet is soft allowing it to flow around obstacles and fill the wells of opportunity.
The final section of the talk that I found both enlightening and practical was how to lead a simple life. Get two pieces of paper and write on one sheet a list of what you need. On the other write a list of what you want. To live a simple life, live by your needs list not your wants. For all of us living in a consumer driven society this has got to be one of life’s greatest challenges.
So what are the key points that reaffirmed my view of how to live a happier life?
- When we do not take time to reflect we soon drift away from our purpose in life.
- When we know our purpose it gives us structure to add positively to the world.
- With calm we quell the emotionally driven life and return to clarity and discover solutions to life.
- By accepting reality we engage with the world fully rather than withdraw into fantasy.
- Technology has its uses to enhance life but should not take over life.