Wildfire, storms, earthquakes, pandemics—the list goes on and on. Racial tensions, shifting awareness of gender identities, political divisions, on-going issues related to poverty—the list goes on and on. Our appearing outer world seems to be falling apart. But this is only the outer appearance, a reflection of the mind’s perception. On an absolute level, it is business as usual—the business of impermanence. We only see things as falling apart because we assume things always stay together in a particular way. Human existence seems to crave an immutable form.

We could be more skillful in addressing the suffering of this time if we did not have such an interest in existing. Humans have a particular needed to exist. Buddha recognized this and taught a way to liberate the false notion of existence. The Heart Sutra states, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form,” but it could be reinterpreted as, “Things are always falling apart and coming together. As things come together, they begin to fall apart.” Finding a way to rest with this awareness is our most important task. 

In between coming together and falling apart, unconditional love peeks through. Notice how we respect and honor those beings who seem to have a facility with love and compassion. The great spiritual leaders who love in the face of overwhelming challenge, who love without thought of their own existence, stir us to become better versions of ourselves. Entire religions are built upon their inspiration. Yet we would rather build institutions pointing to the possibility of unconditional love rather than practicing that love right now.

It all boils down to this: When the will to exist overshadows the will to love, suffering ensues. When the will to love overshadows the will to exist, suffering ceases. Our practice is to cease clinging to the false notion of existing forever, as if that is possible—and spend our life energy through compassionate activity to benefit others. Everything becomes lighter when infused with the light of this awareness. The ‘I’ becomes lighter when our existence is transformed into an offering of compassion.

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