Life is beautiful but to fully enjoy life you need to be awake. Or also called Aware. Many of us go through life day by day walking around half-asleep. They are not present. They don’t “see” anymore. They lost sight of what is really important. They don’t look up at the sky. They don’t see how the colors of the leaves change every season. They do not appreciate Life.
To fully understand and appreciate life you have to accept and appreciate death as well, as they go hand in hand. It is said that those who know death also learn to understand life. Not the other way around. When you know death you will know what is really important. You will be aware of the things that truly matter.
We are obsessed with what others think of us, obsessed with the media and we let advertisements hypnotize our thoughts but your career, your salary, your status, your achievements and so on, they do not matter in the end. They mean nothing when you die. However, there is one thing that lives on after your death. That is the most important thing in life. It is Love.
Love is everywhere and for everyone but you need to be able to see it. We have to learn what is really important and how to let go. How to forgive others and very important: how to forgive oneself. Only when we become aware we can enjoy the smallest things in life.
If we weren’t so greedy we would be much happier, as greed is a form of suffering. Why are we so greedy? It’s because we already have so much. We are blessed with a good live and because we do not appreciate what we have, we keep asking for more and more. When I walk outside the temple I see little children who live on the streets. They have nothing. Who do you think would be happier with a simple sandwich? The kid who lives on the street or one of us? We do not appreciate a sandwich so much because we can eat the sandwich whenever we want. We can just buy it but the kid on the street does not have that luxury and would be very grateful. To be grateful leads to happiness not the other way round. In the end the kid on the street will be happier than us unless we learn how to appreciate things again.
I have a wonderful Mother. Even though she did not study Humanistic Buddhism, she has raised me as if she had. Being here has made me aware of the fact that my mother has already taught me most of the things that I learn here. And to get back to “appreciating small things in life” I would like to share a story with you.
My mother loves sport and nature, so she would often take my little sister and me out on long bicycle rides. We would ride our bicycles through the forest and around big lakes and fields for hours. I very well remember one particular day when my Mother took us for a ride again. We woke up very early in the morning and rode our bicycles through a beautiful nature park and forest for hours. After a whole morning of riding the bicycle we arrived in a little town. My Mother bought us all a sandwich, but she did not let us eat it yet. First we had to ride our bicycles even further so we would have the perfect spot to sit down and relax while eating the sandwich. Once we arrived and sat down she finally gave me the sandwich and I was so happy, because the long trip had made me hungry. It was the best sandwich I ever had. On this day I can still remember the taste of that particular sandwich. And the long hours we had to ride back home again after the sandwich. My Mother has taught me how to appreciate the small things in life. I would never have enjoyed that sandwich so much if I just got it without putting any effort in it.
Stop for a second. And truly open your eyes. What do you see around you and who do you see around you. Have you ever paid attention to the small details? Do you appreciate them? Are you grateful today? And last but not least. What is LIFE for you?