To find peace, one must have a sense of security. Yet how can we feel secure knowing how many people are being harmed in this world? In the face of constant change, what is security in fact? What types of security can we rely on, which support peace of mind, and what types of security obscure it?
Obviously pop culture glorifies the so-called security that money can buy. Money and power pale very quickly when we contemplate what happiness really means. Money can help lessen stress in the world we live in today in an immediate sense, but it feeds stress overall. We also need a sense of power to operate with confidence in life, but power based in control lessens trust, leading to greater unhappiness and insecurity. We cannot separate our own happiness and sense of security from that of others. It’s easy to see that security does not increase by gaining more money and power. Having too much of them actually makes things worse, makes change appear more threatening. Nothing can make us secure unless we can let go of it and still be ok. We must let go of absolutely everything sooner or later.
Have you ever noticed that the people who appear secure are not the ones seeking security? What are they tuned into?
They are not thinking about themselves, or if they are, they are aware of being inextricably linked to all other beings. They are not deterred by trying to make the world a better place not by helping others either. There is nothing inherently wrong with these things of course, but it’s best for everyone to learn to be ok themselves. “Helping others,” and any manner of problem solving, is often a facade for not feeling good about oneself, using others as a defense against existential angst. This is unconscious abuse, stemming from paying attention to what is wrong, an underlying identification with inadequacy. Can you respect others enough to know they can help themselves? Can you accept yourself just they way you are right now, as if this were your very last day on earth?
That may sound really depressing, but it is actually a huge relief to free oneself up from trying to change the world, from trying to reach a future which is better, from seeking recognition from other people. Such intentions overlook how perfect life already is. If you are in a situation that is unsafe, by all means try and get out of it and create conditions that are un-harmful. If you are in a situation that is safe, but you find that you still feel insecure, that is because you are fortunate enough to be able to ponder these more subtle levels. You feel vulnerable, because you are in touch with truth, the wonderful and terrible truth that there is no security. Everything is constantly changing. We can only live this very moment. Our lives will soon be over, for real. As soon as we realize the glory of what we can experience right now, our identity will disappear from the only place it ever existed, in our minds.
Security comes from stepping down, from giving in, from letting go, from quitting the game, and from freeing others. Their supposed identities were never fixed either. We were never separate. Conditions are all that ever set us apart, and conditions are shared. They can be understood, cultivated, or transcended. Although it’s scary at first to realize the impermanent nature of conditioning, when you observe the trajectory of change, you may delight in seeing that the result of change is freedom, healing, and peace. Pleasure and pain exist as rightful consequences of past action. Even “problems” display the ubiquitous benevolence of this grace.
Whether we exert our will to effect change, or if change “happens to us,” all expressions of change reveal what is wise, what is unwise. Everything is included. Nothing stands in the way of this. The only thing that is endangered by change is the desire to stand out, to be superior to others, to achieve something that will last, to be remembered as a separate individual. To renounce trying to be special is the pathway to security where there is no competition, no punishment, no prize, no blame. What is unfinished at the end of my life, future generations will regain. To renounce trying to be better than anyone else makes life, albeit constantly changing, safer for everyone.
There it is, security from two separate sides, meeting at the heart of complete vulnerability, faith in others, and acceptance of how one is right now. Isn’t that what we most long for, to be content, and for others to have faith in us? Thanks to change, we are obliged to return the favor. We are all in this fluid mix together, deluded by the mind’s brazen frailty, enjoying any drops of pleasure we can as the enduring body forever heals, cultivating the sacred spark of faith in one another. Security, when defined as that, is a given. It is beyond death, beyond personal gain, beyond conscious volition.
This image is a portrait of security, a human being beholding nature with gratitude and reverence. Nature is not an illusion. It is not something inert for us to exploit. It is not a series of biological forces obstructing spiritual growth. Nature is the fragmentation of creation. Before and after this differentiation, we are secure, in essence we are informed by this ultimate wholeness. However, we must slumber to this fact for a purpose. We become enchanted by the marvels of our conditions to make freedom and love possible. It is not by individually aligning ourselves with truth, becoming aloof from others, that we discover happiness. Happiness is not found in a sense of personal wellbeing, but rather in sharing the blessings of one’s life with others.
Security is the understanding that we have plenty of time, even if we do die in an instant. Our additional time is the next generation, and the next generation will surpass us, finishing our work, learning from our mistakes, being inspired by fresh dreams. Insecurity comes from the biased attitude that certain traits are worse than others and must be eradicated. Security comes from the recognition that even all characteristics of nature belong. Diversity brings out the best potentials in us, especially the unfamiliar, challenging, and perverse. When we identify with aspects of us that are separate from nature, ie; different than the way things are, change represents decay, emptiness, and loss. When we observe more closely how change occurs, the veil is lifted. We see what is at stake. The face of Nature grows ever more beautiful with age.
Nature is a gemstone hewn of the cosmos, and human beings are the organ of consciousness nature has evolved to reflect upon itself. The purpose of life is not go be secure, it is to recognize the sacred nature of being human. If we put energy into giving thanks and praise to nature, rather than into seeking security, there wouldn’t be so much fearful greed and egotism to contend with. Simply being able to experience an inner and outer world is a gift for which we owe infinite gratitude. Noticing the qualities that stir in the human heart when it is grateful give rise to reverence. Gratitude and reverence are the parents of true security. They are natural results of contemplating the way things are.
Feeling insecure is not a problem. It just takes some getting used to. We are insecure because we fear letting go. The security we seek is always available to everyone, for free, as well, as long as we don’t cling to enjoyment. Don’t underestimate the power and abundance of life’s mercy and grace. Granted, a glimpse is so precious, it can seem almost too good to be true. It is tempting to hold on, to try and maintain it, to remember it and spread it around. That’s what makes security insecure, the tendency to cling to goodness. We are happy when unpleasant things pass, but knowing that we must release what we love can be disturbing. The good news is, while love slips away forever, there is so much more to come. It gets better and better. Like the smell of a rose, peace is all around, no need to make it last. Clasping one whiff inside the nose doesn’t enhance the smell, and holding the breath is stressful.
Humans differ from animals in our ability to decide whether or not to live as one with nature. Animals live in helpless harmony instinctually. We, in our ignorance, can opt against change by seeking security and individual recognition. Humans are called to surrender to the unknown once again, to move without limit, like wind moves through air. We are limitless, because even limitations free us. Thus the true self is secure; it can be aware of, while being subject to, the laws of cause and effect.
Physicality is a vessel for the qualities that inform matter. There is no difference between what we long for and what we experience. Beneath the hum of thinking and feeling, the inner world and the outer world unite. Pictures emerge in the imagination, where the senses and the glands communicate, rousing the heart, animating our blood, guiding the soul to act. The heart teaches, mainly through relationships with ourselves and others, how to return to safety, by entering the body impersonally, as a human being enters a holy forest to awaken gazing straight into the face of the beloved. Being human in an invitation to surrender to this giftedness which is innate, raw, irrational, and always new.
Security and happiness are impossible without loving ones’ neighbor as one’s self. There is only one way, and it is the way of the Bodhisattva, to sacrifice personal bliss to witness humanity awakening.