The idea of progress, of self-improvement, of ‘sorting it all out’ and ‘getting there’: these ideas have such a hold on me. They pull me forward in my chest and head. Influenced by John Gray, and by Buddhists, I want to recognise that there is no progress. “It’s not looking good,” says James Finley. I am not going to sort out my life or achieve an imagined goal. What I can hope for is gradually to let go of the future and reappropriate the present, which is also to reappropriate myself and You. This is to sink down into the centre of gravity below my diaphragm.
Nevertheless, simply to be here, to let go of all wanting and striving, is not easy because it is going against a lifetime of conditioning and practice. It is also to accept death – the end of everything. The idea of progress holds out the illusion of immortality. If I can just sort everything out then I will live forever. Fully to live in the deathless present, which is to live in eternity, is also to know finitude, that I cannot escape death, that this is all there is, and one day I shall be gone. It is to accept a kind of ‘nothing’. It is to know that all my attempts to be ‘better’ or ‘more’ miss the point. It is to know that I do not know who I am, and nor will I ever know. To live fully I need to be less.