Living With Difficulty in Meaningful Ways

If we can learn how to live with difficulty in meaningful ways, our lives will move forward in a purposeful way. Since the only thing we have any control over is our own experience, the more we understand how to live creatively with whatever arises, the happier we will be. Worry and anger won’t change the outcome, and possessiveness doesn’t make anything permanent. Unfortunately, we have been trained to worry about the future, to fight with difficulty, and to try and manipulate outside circumstances. We are sold on the big lie that outside circumstances and “results” determine our happiness.

When we come to understand that it is our response to difficulty that determines the impact these situations have on our lives, we’ll naturally experience a more meaningful engagement with our lives as they are. When we choose to focus our energies on the experience before us and live from within, our life expands to the extent we open our hearts and minds in this way.

Living life from the zero point makes for a meaningful life, right up to the end. . .

Daiju visited the master Baso in China. Baso asked: What do you seek?

“Enlightenment,” replied Daiju.

“You have your own treasure house. Why do you search outside?” Baso asked.

Daiju inquired: “Where is my treasure house?”

Baso answered: “What you are asking is your treasure house.”

Daiju was enlightened! Ever after he urged his friends:

“Open your own treasure house and use those treasures.”  

–Paul Reps and Nyogen Senzaki, Zen Flesh, Zen Bones

In the story above, Daiju comes to understand that what he seeks is carried within. He understands that his innate curiosity is a treasure in itself. He comes home to himself but cannot contain himself; he must share his gift in service to others. He finds his treasure house. Daiju comes full circle, as each of us can—we begin by wondering where our treasures are. Where is yours? What, up until now, have you been searching for? Where have you been looking for meaning? It’s human nature to want to make our lives fulfilling personally, vocationally, and in our relationships. We all want to feel good about what we are doing with our lives. Most of us, however, are in one of two camps: those searching for meaning, or those who have given up the search. But there is a third option that is reemerging, a new myth as it were, which is to give up the search for meaning in order to make meaning within all the circumstances of one’s precious life.

There is an underlying science to living an inspired and meaningful life. The zero point agreement is a template for those ready to fully engage in making meaning from all of life’s situations. The zero point agreement and the techniques within this book are reliable methods for awakening yourself to the world around you and to your fullest potential (to your treasure house), no matter your circumstances. These methods offer an interior science of transformation that is established and proven, a spiritual technology for meaning makers. We can only discover the truth for ourselves by living life from our side (the zero point). In living life from your side (from within) you not only find lasting happiness and satisfaction but personal awakening.

No one else can run the race, enjoy the fine meal, write the novel, or love our partner in our place. This life is ours to live. Too often, however, we rely on outside circumstances and resources to bring us happiness and fulfillment. Many wait on the sidelines of life for that opportune moment when circumstances will be just right for them. However, external conditions never bring us lasting happiness (as we will see in the discussion of the focusing illusion beginning on page 166.) This search outside ourselves only strengthens our feelings of separation and dissatisfaction as we search for our happiness in this way. And our religious institutions and leaders, pop gurus, spiritual and economic con artists, big box chain stores, pharmaceutical companies, and many politicians depend on your search for meaning—for they will happily supply it to you.

“As an adult, you must discover the moving power of your

life. Tension, a lack of honesty, and a sense of unreality

come from following the wrong force in your life.”  –Joseph Campbell

Life happens when we realize that we are the meaning maker. Life isn’t meaningful until we bring the meaning to it. Our happiness, creativity, and success all come down to living life from our side no matter what the circumstances. When each of us realizes that we are our own meaning maker and that we participate in the world from our place, we will find the meaning in making the meaning. Life then becomes a series of inspirational moments, bursts of insight, eruptions of creativity, and even personal revelation. Each moment becomes alive with opportunity, possibilities, and rewards. As Daniel Kahneman writes in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, “When you analyze happiness, it turns out that the way you spend your time is extremely important.”  –excerpt from the introduction to The Zero Point Agreement: How To Be Who You Already Are

Join me in making meaning at one of my retreats. See my calendar for details.


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155 thoughts on “Living With Difficulty in Meaningful Ways

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