“Do exactly what you would do if you felt most secure”. Meister Eckhart
Whatever its context, the above quote on its own seems to urge us to live life to the full -not limit our enjoyment of it by living in fear. Not only do we live in fear, but we also live for the purpose of protecting ourselves from what the future might hold.
It occurred to me that society is structured along these limiting lines. We are urged to take out life insurance, for instance. Life insurance, literally, is bizarre as nothing can insure us against death. Death is going to happen, to ourselves, to our loved ones. Life insurance gives a false sense of security and it’s one of a number of huge institutions functioning on the back of a lie.
What would happen if life insurance were abolished? The lie would be removed that our life is secure. Having faced the fear and in the light of the truth, we’re then free to live life to the full; that is, in the knowledge that it’s finite (at least this particular lifetime) we live it more urgently. We don’t have to work longer hours to pay our life insurance premiums and so have more time to live.
Life insurance is just an example of how society is structured on institutions that feed off our fears. Instead of standing up to them, we clank through life fettered with useless insurances against the inevitable. We could, instead, be here in the now, taking pleasure in life’s abundances.
Living life to the full doesn’t require vast changes in our lives and lots of money. Living fully can be achieved in minutes, seconds even. All that’s needed is just one look from the window, when we’ll see what’s being gifted to us today, right at this moment, by Nature.
Just one look as I write gifts me the sun streaming in through the window. Outside, there are trees. A baby squirrel is giving chase to a sibling who has disturbed its snooze in the sun on a thick branch. The giant rhodos are covered in sun-haloed flower buds. I can enjoy the gift of the sun on the buds and more than that, its significance – the promise of future beauty that the buds hold within them.
This promise makes me ‘full’ and all at once, what is out there becomes in here, I mean in me. I become the promise of future beauty. That’s even though I’ll be 60 next month. And by the way, 60 is a number; it signifies quantity, not condition. It doesn’t mean old and old is a state of mind we choose to accept or reject. Old age: another societal lie revealed!
Might living life to the full begin with the realisation that we are not in or amongst Nature, but part of Nature? It’s a realisation that doesn’t require bloody revolution (and vast sums of money on weapons of mass destruction). All that’s needed is just one look. The look pulls us out of our dismal, insured life into a life which promises we will become beautiful.
The realisation – or recollection as I always feel that revelation is a re-remembering – that I’m part of Nature radically shifts my perspective. I’m not just myself, my own eye and limb, but also Nature’s eye and limb. Therefore, if I despoil the countryside, I’m despoiling, diminishing myself. I have to eat as I’m presently in this embodied state defined as human, but I have to eat in the consciousness that in eating, I’m destroying something living, which paradoxically destroys something of me. I therefore eat in such a way as to do the least damage I can to myself (Nature). That’s one reason why I’m vegetarian (another is that I love animals).
Meister Eckhart, was a 13th-14th century German mystic and theologian during the time when the papacy was based in Avignon, France. In later life he was charged with heresy, dying before any verdict could be pronounced. He is purported to have said that if you’re frightened of dying …you’ll see devils tearing your life away. But if you’ve made your peace then the devils are really angels, freeing you from the Earth.
Stop what you’re doing right now. Stop wasting your time reading my half-baked philosophies and instead, take just one look at what Nature is offering today.
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- Meister Eckhart and the Core of the Soul (footnotes2plato.com)