What Is Most Important?

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The chimes on the porch sing a sweet song of breeze and spring. I am alone at my sister’s. The breeze settles and the counter song of the birds comes forward to complete the lyric. I woke from terrific nightmares last night to this quiet, humming, perfect day.

And so it is, our lives contain the whole of it—the spectrum of experience and wonder, contraction and expansion, fear and love. If we try hard to control our lives—and most of us do (as well as the lives of others)—we can limit the range of our experience as well as wreak great havoc around us. The result is often that we lose as well what we were so hoping to protect, our open hearts.

If what you want in your life is to loosen this that is gripping you, this habitual movement toward managing your life and the life around you, being driven by anxiety and fear and a deep sense of separation—one way to begin is by asking yourself, “What is most important?”

The question isn’t academic, there isn’t a right answer to find or defend. The potential of asking the question lies as much in the asking and sitting with the question as it does in discovering answers.

Resting with questions without trying to figure out answers is to be willing to sit with, and acknowledge what you don’t know.  If what is most important to you is not in part a desire to live with what is beyond your grasp—you may not want to begin the exploration.

Sometimes the clarity about what is most important to us, doesn’t come until we experience some loss of control or hardship: the end of a relationship, the death of someone close to us, a serious illness of our own or a family member.

We ask ourselves, “What have I been doing with my life? What have I been trying to protect and hold onto?”  Buddhist teacher, Pema Chödrön, says: “Death is certain. The moment of death is uncertain. So what is the most important thing?”


What is driving your life? Where are your actions and ideas coming from? What are you willing to give up? What is most important in this particular and unparticular life of yours?

And once we ask a question—whether to ourselves or another—the only thing left to do is listen.  To come into gentle awareness of where we are, to sit still and listen, and move about our lives and listen, and to make room for answers to come and answers to change in this way.

And to always be open to new questions.

What is most important to you?
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Marlene May 6, 2010 at 4:23 pm

Hi Jasmine-
I like this post. A very good one for me to read today having been surprised this morning to find the buoyancy i knew yesterday lost in a shocking tsunami of grief, so many years after. I thought i had navigated beyond the waves but was woken up to the truth. Spent the rest of the day with my friend’s little dog breathing on my lap, watching the spring green trees wave back to the wind. This is it. This is the gorgeous world, and yes, it does hum.
Thanks for posting..I am listening.


Jasmine May 6, 2010 at 8:41 pm

I came in from planting in the garden with the wind wild and fierce. The weather always moving inside and outside of us. It sounds like you were able to give the great wave the space to wash through you and the world was there meeting you in the green of trees and the dog on your lap. Lean on all this that is here right now with you.


kathy stewart May 6, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Beautifully said. The willingness to be with the question without knowing, that seems to be the key for me… Thank you.


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