No society wants you to become wise: it is against the investment of all societies. If people are wise they cannot be exploited. If they are intelligent they cannot be subjugated, they cannot be forced in a mechanical life, to live like robots. They will assert their individuality. They will have the fragrance of rebellion around them. They will like to live in freedom. Freedom comes with wisdom, intrinsically. They are inseparable, and no society wants people to be free. The communist society, the fascist society, the capitalist society, the Hindu, the Mohammedan, the Christian — no society — would like people to use their own intelligence because the moment they start using their intelligence they become dangerous — dangerous to the establishment, dangerous to the people who are in power, dangerous to the ‘haves’; dangerous to all kinds of oppression, exploitation, suppression; dangerous to the churches, dangerous to the states, dangerous to the nations. In fact, a wise man is afire, alive, aflame. But he cannot sell his life, he cannot serve them. He would like rather to die than to be enslaved.
You can enjoy life here and now, where you are and whatever you do. Apart from taking a break from your work, going on vacations, spending time with your loved ones or doing what you love, you can experience the joy of living here and now. For that you have to bring your mind back to where you are and pay attention to the life that happens around you.
You do not have to tax your brain by examining every detail for 24 hours. The monks will do it as part of their spiritual experience because they have no worldly obligations. You cannot do it when you have bills to pay and obligations to meet.
However, you can bring mindfulness and present moment awareness into your life selectively to enliven your perceptions and enhance your awareness. Using this approach, you will learn to drive through life skillfully using both your instincts and intelligence, knowing where to slow down and where to speed up, and what to observe and what to ignore.
Apply present moment awareness while eating, walking in a park, spending time with your friends or family, practicing a hobby, talking to someone over phone, exercising, taking a bath, washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, relaxing, etc. These are simple tasks that do not hamper your speed or style or your professional obligations. They actually minimize the possibility of negligence and carelessness.
Whenever you are disturbed, feel anxious, angry, worried, stressed, distressed, afraid, bring your mind to the present moment and observe your breath, feelings, and body sensations. When you are caught in the web of life and feel oppressed and depressed, you have an opportunity to change your thinking, acknowledging that whatever scope you may have to enjoy life or experience it lies in the present, not in any distant future when you resign from your job and want to live differently.
I can assure you that if you have not learned to accept your present conditions, you will not be able to accept your future conditions either. You may strive all your life to create favorable conditions and a life of your dreams. But all that may vanish in a moment, if you are not prepared to accept life’s uncertainties and vagaries.
When you experience pain and suffering, observe which part of your body is affected by it and from where it is coming. Surrender to that pain and feel compassion for yourself and your body. Pay attention to the things that matter, people that matter, actions that matter, and feelings that matter.
Pay attention to what disturbs and upsets you and know why they have such a power over you. Your suffering is your solution if you know how to observe and understand. Your suffering is a gift if you know how to receive it.
Your life is what you experience consciously. The rest is what happens in your sleep or sleep like states. Thus, with discretion and wisdom, you can use this wonderful quality, which was taught by the Buddha thousands of years ago.
Observe life with love and compassion whenever you find time. Just be here and now when life demands it. Give yourself the gift of observation and be blessed by it.