There comes a time in most people’s lives when they look back. Perhaps after the kids are gone, or when their faculties are almost gone! Or when they are more inclined to surrender rather than put up the good fight anymore. We all have to surrender, eventually.

We might long for a sense of freedom from it all after we have courageously fought our battles. Battles that we cannot even remember but seemed so significant and meaningful at the time.

And we fought so bravely, against tyranny, oppression, enslavement. But these were superficial freedoms, as we look back, because even when we were supposedly free from these kinds of things, we found ourselves still caught in our personal prisons.

Prisons we could only call a result of our ignorance at the time. Not the ignorance that results from a lack of information, but the ignorance that results from a refusal to admit our delusions. We were, in a way, in a constant state of denial of reality. Too busy to even look around at what the realities of life were.

Why did we do this? Why did we continue to believe in Santa Claus long after our friends poked fun at us? What drove us to live such a fairy tale? Wasn’t it the naked truth of life, the reality of life that would crush us if it wasn‘t for our dreams and ambitions?

We couldn’t stand to glimpse life through a clear lens, but instead watched life through the rose colored glasses of our hopes and dreams, because we knew down deep that this life of ours, this life of light and love, was only being held together by the thinnest of threads, and we knew that the thread could break at any moment. So we hid ourselves and everyone we loved from those realities.

We saw what life was really like in S.E. Asia one day, in a jungle, where every animal, insect and plant tried to stay alive just one more day, as we did. Survival of the fittest. No light and love. No illusionary hopes and dreams.

The animals taught us well, how we rationalize life and convince ourselves that we are not animals, that we are somehow above all of that. But then the sex act reminded us of what we were. And the anger and hatred reinforced that reality.

And we came back and scratched out a living, raised our kids, somehow grew old without realizing it, became sick. Our great grandparents became sick too, and died, as did our grandparents, our parents, and now us. No escape from this except denial; that we will somehow sidestep it all and wake up in a promised land.

Is this freedom? Or is this being so confused that we actually believe the hundreds of different scenarios depicted in the thousands of religions? They can’t all be true. Yet we must strongly believe that ours is the real truth, down deep. But now at this time, when the breath is feeble and the hands shake, dare we look closer, dare there be questions?

We might courageously look back now at where our fondest beliefs and ideas came from. Where they a result of an exhaustive investigation of life and all its ramifications? No. We never had that kind of time. We were always in a hurry to get on with life, as if pursued by . . . something.

And now it’s too late. We barely have enough energy to get up every morning. Better to leave it all alone again. But then, what was life all about?

Was it no more than making enough money to keep our dreams alive? To simply participate in a never ending cycle? Should there have been more?

Did we, in our hurry to live life, abandon the reason for living? Did we fool ourselves into believing that this was all there is? Was there more?

Did we merely indulge an entire lifetime, unconsciously following our next desire and dream, only to reach the end of our dreams and realize the absurdity of it all?

It now seems so superficial, looking back. Those scarce moments of caring and love so rare in a whole lifetime. Why would that be? All the knowledge accumulated now gone. No longer necessary. But those moments; those moments of love and caring, they still matter. Why were they so few?

Why is it that we now want to find an inner peace? To go inward. Perhaps it’s the disenchantment with the excitement of life that makes us feel this way, the ending of passion. Just peace now, interior peace. That’s all that maters. If only we could have felt a moment of this years ago, when we could have made such a difference in many lives.

But we did the best we could. Nobody was there to tell us what would end up being important. We believed what everyone told us at the time. We always, in a way, never lost faith in Santa Claus. But Santa and all his presents took us away from the real meanings of what life is all about, and now in hindsight, we know that our lives could have been so much different.

We see a shift taking place within us, a freedom. Something that tells us that now we are on the right track. A cleansing of the heart where a part of us dissolves. No more fear. No more struggling.

Now, we somehow have the freedom to just be.

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.