Monday, April 26, 2010

What's In Your Backpack?

I saw "Up in the Air" recently. If you haven't seen it, George Clooney plays Ryan Bingham, who flies around the country firing people who have been downsized. He also has a side business as a motivational speaker.

His standard motivational speech asks people to imagine taking all the things in their lives and stuffing them into a backpack, from knicknacks, to their house and car, to even their relationships. When you think about things that way, it can seem like we are carrying a lot on our shoulders. And there are many who would say that simplifying is the way to go.

Certainly, wanting and needing can lead to suffering. There is simply no way that we can ever have or do everything we want. It's a dead end path--though most of us take a long time to learn that (if we really ever do).

But there is a part of you that does not need a backpack, because it is not carrying anything. The concept of carrying things does not even apply to it. It is that which is before thoughts of carrying or not carrying. It is unconditioned awareness, true nature, just this, suchness, the witness, that which cannot be cut or burned or broken. It goes by many names, but it is always here. We only have to recognize it.

To rest in awareness, even for a few moments, is to realize that there are no burdens other than those created by our own thoughts. So yes, we can take things out of our backpack. But we can also simply discard the notion that we ever had any baggage.


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