Why our lives have only relative importance

I kind of like watching old films or TV shows that were made way before I was born. As I’m watching, I realise that I’m seeing a world that existed before I was born and, although I am the locus of my own little world – the centre of the universe as I perceive it – it’s really rather humbling to see that, shock and horror, the world, the universe – and life itself – really did just fine before I showed up.

The trees still grew, the sun still shone, the seasons still progressed and people still lived and loved and ate and sleep and endured all their own particular joys and sorrows. In short, the world did just fine without me, and I have no doubt that once the journey I’m on here ends it will continue to do just fine.

This might sound quite obvious to you, but if you think about it, it’s quite an important realisation. Each of us is the centre of our own particular universe and all too often we get unconsiously inflated with our own importance. Our problems, our difficulties, our fears and opinions, likes and dislikes, hopes and dreams are endowed with an ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE that, in reality, they simply don’t possess. We take ourselves, our thoughts, our beliefs and our determination to manipulate the outer world in a way that makes brings it in line with our personal preferences so very very seriously.

It’s one of those things that is sometimes easier to see in others than in ourselves. I’m sure you’ve encountered many people who take themselves and ‘their lives’ so seriously that they appear to live under the delusion that the world will spin off its axis if they don’t get their way, if they can’t resolve their particular difficulties or make life conform to the way they think it should be?

Living life with this intensity and seriousness can’t be good for our health, can it? And surely it also strips the joy right out of life? When we’re so busy trying to make things happen, trying to force life, the world and others to be what we think they ‘should’ be, we miss what life actually is.

Go out for a walk somewhere. Anywhere! I guarantee you’ll see lots of people walking about, present in body but absent in mind. You can just tell by looking at these people that their minds are completely elsewhere, no doubt worrying about various problems and constructing mental scenarios and re-running arguments in their heads. And it doesn’t matter how beautiful a day it is, or how gorgeous the scenery; that person isn’t taking in any of it. They are so busy worrying about their ‘life’ that…well, they’re completely missing life!

I guess what I’m saying is that we all need to lighten up. We tread so heavily upon the earth, always believing that the situations and difficulties we find ourselves in have the utmost importance. We struggle and fight against life, always trying to mould it to our opinion of how it should be. We unconsciously believe that our mental conceptions and fears and hopes have an ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE…when in fact, they have only a RELATIVE IMPORTANCE (relative to us, and perhaps a few people within our small sphere of influence).

I got caught up in mindcrap this week and it dragged me right down and triggered the kind of emotional chain-reaction that tends to perpetuate and feed it. Heavy, negative thoughts, when invested with an illusory ABSOLUTE importance and sense of ‘self’ generate painful emotions, including fear, anger, depression. The body can’t distinguish between an imagined threat or an actual threat, which is why it produces the same emotional responses in either case (to test this, start imagining that someone close to you has died – and you’ll begin to elicit the emotions of sadness and grief as if that person actually had died. That is the power of the mind!).

I kicked it, however! I recognised that all the problems and worries I was getting so anxious about were really all just in my mind – thoughts of ‘what if’ and ways of interpreting current situations in a negative light, forgetting that events in themselves are always neutral – it’s our interpretation of them that renders them ‘good’ or ‘bad’. This ability to step out of a heavy depressive state by questioning the mental content that is generating it is worth more than all the money and gold in the world. I hope that by sharing this, I might in some way help others to do likewise.

My basic message is to stop taking the content of mind so seriously. Recognise that all your thoughts, beliefs and interpretations of reality (including how you think things ‘should’ be) are a fabrication of mind. The ABSOLUTE IMPORTANCE you attach to your hopes and fears and your attempts at making life what you think it should be is also an illusion; these things have only RELATIVE IMPORTANCE and, really, in the grand scheme of life in all its infinite and eternal complexity – not much importance at all.

That’s why I like to remind myself that life ran quite smoothly before I was born (and proceeded to assume a role of supreme importance as the centre of the universe, as most people tend to do!). And there’s every evidence to suggest life will continue to do just fine once I’ve gone.

In the words of Walter Hagen:

“Don’t worry, don’t hurry. You’re only here for a short visit, so be sure to stop and smell the flowers.”

 

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3 thoughts on “Why our lives have only relative importance”

  1. Hehe, I did do a philosophy course at college, but it meant next to nothing to anyone, including the lecturer (he’d just had a breakdown and I don’t think he had a clue what he was talking about – or cared!). I just think about – or FEEL about (!) – things a lot and try to articulate it. I have thought about making a kind of philsophy/spiritual book. I definitely want my work to help or inspire others. Otherwise, what’s the point? Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. I particularly note your turn of the phrase: "…before I shuffled onto this mortal coil" playing off the Hamlet phrase of "shuffle off.Also, recent physicists describe the size and "shape" of the universe to be such that each of us IS the exact center of the universe, as is any point in the universe. So it's not that you're NOT the center of the universe, it's that we ALL ARE.Dan

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