Life. How do we want to see our lives? Like undisturbed music which flows from our hearts to our souls. However, life is not easy and does not go as we want it. From the moment of birth to the inevitability of death, human life is intertwined with various forms of discomfort, dissatisfaction, and pain.
The reason? Life is like an earphone, and if you don’t observe it, life will not be easy – it will be tangled, and untangling the untangled is tough. The easier thing to do is to ensure – it does not tangle.
Life and Earphone
Connect your wired earphone to your phone (or computer) and put it in your ears – the music starts to flow. The phone is the heart that transmits soothing music to the soul (via ears). In an ideal scenario, when you are at peace, you hear the music and understand the lyrics. However, we are not perfect human beings – we are driven by emotions. So either we are sad, or we are happy. When we are happy, we enjoy the music (only). When we are sad, we understand the lyrics. The soul does not get what it looks like – the perfect combination, and we don’t get the peace that we want in our lives.
Don’t let your earphones tangle
The notion that life, like an earphone, can strangle when not given due attention is a contemplative analogy that resonates with fundamental Buddhist teachings on mindfulness, impermanence, and the art of being present. To learn more about Buddhist teaching and practice it at home, you can check –
When does your earphone tangle? When you stop paying attention to it- when you keep it in your pockets and stop noticing it. The same happens with life – when you stop observing your life – it strangles. When your earphones tangle, even though you have your phone, you won’t be able to play music.
If you are too determined, you may pluck the tangled earphones in the phone and put them in your ears, but the experience won’t be comforting. When it happens, your focus is neither on the music nor the lyrics. The focus is only on keeping your head close enough to the phone so you can continue to listen. You live but in discomfort.
At this juncture, there are two options – untangle the earphone or continue to listen in discomfort.
Option 1: Continue listening with tangled earphones
If we look at our lives, most of us have access to music (comfortable life), but we are not enjoying it (living in comfort). The first thing we need to do is to acknowledge the fact that we are listening with tangled earphones. The dangerous thing: you have been in this situation for a long time, and now you are too used to it. You are in discomfort, but you don’t know the reason, or even worse, you don’t know you are in discomfort.
Buddhism teaches us impermanence – the understanding that everything is in a constant state of change. To make the change, you need to put in effort. To understand it in detail, visit –
The knots in an earphone will eventually come undone but with little effort. Embracing the impermanent nature of life’s problems allows us to approach them with equanimity, knowing that they too shall pass. You don’t lament looking at your tangled earphones but acknowledge that with little effort, you can change the situation.
Option 2: Untangling the earphones
The Buddha has said that mindfulness is one of the crucial aspects of life. It is the practice of being fully present in the moment. To untangle an earphone, our attention has to be wholly engaged in the task. If not, we may continue to untangle it, but it won’t happen. Similarly, life calls us to be present in every aspect, every experience. By approaching life with the same focused awareness as we untangle an earphone, we can free ourselves from the burden of past regrets and future anxieties.
Untangling an earphone reveals the clarity and simplicity that were obscured by the tangle. Similarly, Buddha teaches that untangling the complexities of existence leads to a clear and uncluttered mind. As we disentangle ourselves from the knots of attachments and illusions, we discover the inherent wholeness and interconnectedness of all things.
The Best Option: Be in the Present
If your earphones are not tangled, congratulations – you are a lucky few. However, you have to ensure that you remain in the same state. For that, you have to continuously observe life. The earphone metaphor underscores the significance of embracing the present moment. In Buddhist teachings, the present moment is where true happiness and peace reside.
The tangled earphone serves as a symbol of the messiness that arises when we don’t direct our attention to the “now.” By immersing ourselves fully in the present, we can prevent life from ‘strangling’ us with unnecessary worries and regrets and instead experience life’s harmony.
Abhinav Mishra (writer)
Abhinav Mishra is a professional author/writer and has written a lot of articles on spirituality. He has published his book on Karna (The Unfortunates) and one on his view on life (Life, Death and Beyond). The books are available on Amazon.