Receive Life with open arms, accept its ‘suchness’.
Someone we know separated from her husband 10 years ago. She’s tried in vain to ‘settle’ down in all this time – but despite having been in three relationships, she hasn’t been convinced of any one of them being the ‘right’ one. She met an astrologer who told her that she would be single all her Life. Depressed with what she had been told, she reached out to ask me for my opinion. I said, “I am not going to advice you on what to do. But my view is that if you are not happy with any relationship it may well be because you aren’t relating to any of the men you have met.” “Learn to accept the suchness of Life and move on…not everyone needs to marry and ‘settle’ down in the conventional sense…be happy…if you can find love and companionship in Life, that’s more important than getting married,” I added.
She wasn’t entirely convinced with my perspective. She plodded on: “Why does this often happen in Life? That the most irrational things happen to people?” I replied, “I wish anyone had an answer to these questions. Because, such is Life!”
It was the Buddha who has talked about the suchness of Life. So, in Buddhism there’s this concept of tathata – the suchness of Life. It means, simply, like the title of that famous section in Reader’s Digest: “Life’s Like That!” Or, as the famous show on Doordarshan, that I adored as a teenager, was called: “Yeh Jo Hai Zindagi!”
To understand the concept of tathata – the suchness of Life, let’s pause to think about how Life plays out for us, around us. Almost everything that happens to us, or to anyone else, in Life is just an event. A mere situation. But we humans analyze it, we interpret it and we label it – as wow, good, bad, horrible, whatever! But our labelling a Life event does not change anything. If at all it does cause anything – it only makes us miserable when we think of it as ‘bad’. Life has no agenda. There’s no conspiracy to fix you, just as there is no grand scheme of favoritism to reward you. Life just keeps on happening from moment to moment, from event to event.
When the event in question meets or exceeds your expectations, you rejoice; when it does not happen the way you want it to, you grieve. Now, evidently, there are times in Life when what you want will not happen – no matter how hard you try, how faithful you are, how honest you are and how talented you are. This is when you must understand that talent and integrity do not assure you of a comfortable – defined per your expectations of comfort – passage through Life. Sadly, we often miss this clarity and end up pitying ourselves wondering whether we deserve to be treated so harshly, so unfairly, by Life. But such is Life. It never promised you any fair-play at all when you were born. It offered you no guarantees. So whose fault is it when you expect Life to treat you in a certain way? Understanding Life truly means understanding its suchness. That it is what it is. That what once was will never be forever. That there are no guarantees, nothing’s fair or unfair, that Life just keeps on happening to you the way it wants to. And yet, despite all your challenges and problems, you must go on living your Life, enthusiastically. This is what accepting the ‘suchness’ of Life means.
If you can’t see how you can wrap your head around this concept, think of Aarushi’s parents, the Talwar couple, think of R D Burman, the genius who died without acclaim and work, think of Nirbhaya who was brutally raped and killed, think of someone you know in your family who’s going through an illogical, irrational Life phase just now – all these people’s stories are evidence of the suchness of Life! So whether you are rendered immobile by Life or cashless or companionless or jobless – whatever it may be that Life has dealt you at this time, know that it is so because such is Life! The surest way, therefore, to be anchored in peace, despite your circumstances, is to accept the ‘suchness’ of your Life, unquestioningly.