Are you willing to live fully with the darkness of the future? Are you willing to deal with the truth of life? This may sound like a stupid or trite question, but I discovered a lot about myself by grappling with its ramifications. In the early nineties I spent a long time in retreat, and for several months I looked into this question of my deepest willingness to be a human being. My central practice was this mantra:

Anything that can happen to a human being may happen to me, and I accept the truth of this.

I would repeat it silently, while countless images and scenarios flitted across my mind — cancer, blindness, amputation, my wife or son being murdered, and so on. With each image, I silently, often with frightened surrender, bowed in acceptance of the possibility. It wasn't macabre or perverse at all; it was a quieting and deeply humbling process.

Obviously, I don't want any of those things to happen. But to be fully alive, to meet your life as a full human being, unafraid of reality and with both eyes wide open, you must accept the simple truth that anything that can happen to a human being may happen to you. You are a human being, so the statement is a literal truth. No way around it.

The practice helped me see countless sides of my relationship to life and, perhaps most important, discern the intricate balance between responsibility and surrender. There are many things we have control over and many things we have no control over. Spiritual practice gives us the opportunity to refine our understanding of which is which, and then to live accordingly.

Bo Lozoff in It's a Meaningful Life