There is a saying in Buddhism, “Life is simple, we make it complicated.” I am always amused when I meet a person who claims to be a “people watcher” who has never experienced that fundamental reality.
Lives are spent making it complicated. In fact, it seems the fundamental project of humanity to alienate itself from the pure simplicity of life.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had his fictional character, Sherlock Holmes, put it differently when he castigated Dr. Watson. “You see but you do not observe.” Maybe there’s another way to put it. The lights falls upon your retina but all that survives is the image on comprehended.
What is there in this madness but the cold vacuum of empty space? What is there in this alienation from the pure fact of life that makes it so dominant? Why is it so necessary to look elsewhere when life is right now, right here?
The joy of living is traded for the frustration of delusion. It is a self-inflicted wound. Perhaps the Dalai Lama said it best when he was asked, “What surprises you most about humanity?”
“Man surprised me most about humanity.
Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money.
Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived.”
Trapped in a web that is self-created, a person struggles with the manufactured complexity of life and, in the process, never really lives.
But there is a way out of this conundrum. There is a way to return to the joy and wonder of being alive. That way is not a new trick, an emerging fad or an attempt to manufacture addiction. It is simple and straightforward and centuries-old. The way out of the web is the way inward. And that way begins with the realization that everything necessary is contained in a single breath.