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Saṃsāra, this reality, this world, can be seen as a relationship. She’s the romance of your life, the first and last woman you’ll ever love. You can only leave her through death or enlightenment. Most of us have a bipolar relationship with her, loving her at her best and scorning her when she shows her dark sides.

We have all marvelled at her beauty. Words fail to describe her magnificence. She floors us with the things she shows us: mountains and stars and great sweeping plains. We fall down in front of her, weeping, professing our love, vowing to spend more time with her and less time in our houses and in front of our screens.

I felt this way the night the sand lit up under our footsteps, mirroring the million stars in the moonless sky above us. We ran down the beach leaving footprints of blue phosphor behind us. She was magnificent that night.

Likewise, words fail to describe the divine beauty of watching the sun set the evening sky ablaze over a purple sea. For 5 days we sailed on indigo before reaching azure coastal waters. Great behemoths of tankers and cruise liners silently slipped past us in the twilight in the great shipping lanes of the Gulf of Mexico.

Like the body of a lover, afterwards we spit adjectives and flail our arms to try to express the beauty we have seen, but none of it comes close to describing her. Even though we cannot describe our experiences, they can be understood by others because we have all had indescribable experiences of this sort.

Our affections are soon forgotten when she shows her other sides: death, brutality and suffering. When she causes us pain, anger or sadness we forsake her, scorning her existence.

This analogy serves to illustrate that our relationship with this world is unhealthy. If we are to love Saṃsāra we must embrace all aspects of her and love her at her worst, not just when she is good to us.

Our fear of losing her also needs analysis. Yes, to lose her means to die. However, our fear of death destroys our ability to experience her fully. Like an insecure lover, if we spend our time trying to hold on to her we will create a relationship based on fear. She is a gift. We can never control her. We must not be needy or fearful.

PS The Sanskrit word “Samsara” is the root for the Malay word “sengsara”, which means suffering.