British author and Buddhist teacher Stephen Batchelor writes in Confession of a Buddhist Atheist (2013):

Rather than seek God – the goal of the brahmins – Gotama suggested that you turn your attention to what is most far from God: the anguish and pain of this life on earth. In a contingent world, change and suffering are inevitable. Just look at what happens here: creatures are constantly being born, falling ill, growing old, and dying. These are the unavoidable facts of our existence. And when I am honest with myself, when I drop all my stoic conceits, this is unbearable.

To embrace the contingency of one’s life is to embrace one’s fate as an ephemeral but sentient being. As Nietzsche claimed, one can come to love that fate. But to do so one must first embrace it, though one instinctively recoils at such a prospect. To steady one’s gaze on the finitude, contingency, and anguish of one’s existence is not easy; it requires mindfulness and concentration. One needs to make a conscious shift from delight in a fixed place to awareness of a contingent ground…

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