Perhaps it is the temporary nature of a sunset that makes it so beautiful. Within a very short period of time, we see the western sky brighten and deepen intensely before the sun slips behind the horizon, drawing down the indigo cover of night. People who live in coastal California watch the spectacle in awe. It is more than the beauty of the shifting colors that draws attention. Perhaps it is a reminder of the temporary nature of everything in our human Lives.
Eckhard Tolle reminds us that as human beings we face the paradox of enjoying both ‘human-ness’ and ‘being-ness’; in the midst of this duality we find the challenge and the potential of living our lives most fully. We are familiar with the human side of our lives— the world under the control of egoic mind, that keeps up a constant chatter of past memories and future expectations, all that prevent us from experiencing each moment. And the one thing we are guaranteed with everything we know and understand about our humanness is that it is all temporary— the very fabric of our lives, wants and experiences. In every instance, the adage “this too shall pass” applies.
The other side of the equation is our ‘being-ness’ that we access most easily through the largely unfamiliar right-brain avenues open to us. We have not been trained to understand this reality as valid. It is the place of the present, of dreams and images rather than words and ideas. Where the realm of the left-brain seems so solid and provable, the right-brain opens to us all that eternal, ephemeral and true. It is a place of spacious, silent oneness. Unlike the dualistic nature of the human world, here our state of existence has no opposite. It is from this interconnected ‘being-ness’ that we begin our human journey and to which we return when our temporary sojourn is complete.
In Jewish wisdom literature we find the suggestion that we each carry two slips of paper in our pockets each day. On the first is written: ‘It is for me the Universe was created’ and on the other ‘I am but a mote of dust in the Universe.’ Such a practice acknowledges the universal ‘I am’ of which I am a part and at the same time reiterates that the ‘me/mine separation’ in which I believe I live shows the insignificance of my temporal story.
Each time we watch a sunset and feel ourselves deeply moved by its beauty, let us recall and revel in both our own temporary human nature and at the same time the eternal spirit in which we live.