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The “Silly Cycle”
The unfortunate thing about being a human is that we are endowed with this silly thing called the mind. This mind-thing is never satisfied for long. Maybe it seems okay for a while; when, according to its ideals everything seems to be going smoothly. But for many of us, this period of grace where everything seems okay does not last long. Before we know it we are back in the silly cycle.
The silly cycle happens when the grass is greener on the other side, then; when you get to the other side, the grass is still greener on the other side. This goes on ad infinitum.
The question is how can we break this cycle? Or more accurately how can we see it clearly? I say see it because this little habit is so ingrained that breaking it is like trying to break a mountain. By seeing this mind trick clearly we dismantle the power it has over our joy.
By seeking a better version of life we are avoiding the incredible greatness of the one we have now. Happiness is not “over there” but here right where we are now. A simple question to ask ourselves is where are we right now? Really and truly; and I don’t mean
the bus stop or beauty salon, that is only where your butt or your hair appear to be.
Our lives are wasted outside our own universe where we exist. We don’t actually live out there somewhere, but right here. We are here reading this article right now, not in some other less sexy article.
The comedy is that your universe has real potential to be joyful without changing a single thing. The problem is we don’t see the real universe, we see an idea of a better one. Calculate how much time you have wasted thinking about changing your circumstances
to something better; you probably have done more fantasizing than eating, walking and showering combined. How do I know this? I don't have a degree in greener grass, but have spent plenty of my own time thinking and looking for it.
The natural way of being without this grass-seeking mind is contentment. Really! While we may not destroy this tendency with one big smack, we can certainly gain freedom from it since it is merely a product of learned behavior. There is no reason why we have to continue to live our lives as slaves to the silly cycle.
The wonderful news is that when we see through it to the foundation of stillness underneath, we uproot its reach in every area of life. This is powerful since the grass is always greener. It is greener in finances, relationships, work, image, self-worth and my personal favorite—in the position on the ladder of consciousness. Everyone, if honest with themselves, will naturally place themself on a scale in one of these facets of life. And let me take an educated guess based on personal experience, it is not totally “okay.” No I am not a psychic, but a fellow human who is aware of my own mind and its tendency to see the grass is greener over there. Perhaps the only difference is that I no longer listen to it as much as the average Joan or Juan and therefore can rest right here knowing that this is all there is and all God has for me at this particular moment. Yes, there is that within me that would prefer some good ol’ junk food now, but a burger and soft drink on ice aren’t apparently at hand … waaaah!
Can I change it? Improve it? Can I get a better car? Can I become a better speaker? Get more money? Better girlfriend? Yes to all of those except for the girlfriend, because she can’t get any better or better looking—my mind is not that silly! So you can improve almost anything in theory and you should try, but not by thinking about it. “Thinking” about it will not make you permanently happy. That cycle does not work, ever. I understand this may seem difficult, but by moving towards clarity on this subject you can begin to see the reality that you do not need anything to be happy.
“My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I'm happy.
I can't figure it out. What am I doing right?” Charles Schulz
The mind might tell you that you can move onto better pastures, but that is not what I am talking about. Of course you can always move in a direction to success, betterment, higher consciousness etc. … But the point is, you will always be where you are right now and you cannot run away from that. So why not be happy with where you are? Aha! Now I see the problem, the mind says. I can’t be happy because I am stuck in the cycle. Don’t worry—seeing it and learning not to take it seriously is a great start and if you just continue to do that, it can unravel its silliness. The comedy starts now.
And guess what? If you can learn to be content through a path of joy you are instantly more conscious without even lifting a finger. This is the effortless momentum of awakening. It is happening now.
You wouldn’t take something silly seriously, would you? What we are talking about here is absolute stupidity of the highest (or lowest, depending on perspective) order. It deserves laughter. So go ahead and start laughing at its illogicalness and uselessness. It is a silly habit and nothing more than that.
What makes us happy?
So if finding the grass—no, not the smoking kind!—does not make us happy, what does?
Being content with what is in your universe right now is what makes you happy. This seems difficult because sometimes we like what is there and sometimes not. It is not the things or situations appearing in our universe, however, that determine our joy. This is the trick, because the mind will take a look around and see all the faults. My room sucks, my boyfriend sucks, my refrigerator hums too loudly, my eyebrows are way too bushy … my life sucks. The good news is that it’s okay that it sucks. I agree, it does suck, God did a terrible job at setting it up; if I designed it we would have far more water slides. The mind has evolved and been programmed to look at everything in this way; and let’s face it, the mind itself sucks.
Let me contradict myself here and say that there is nothing that actually makes you happy. Now, if I was to end the conversation here that might be a little depressing, but I have the greatest of all news for you, something very exciting to share with you. You are already happy without all those things. Wow!
The trick, if you will, is to see that you are already content and that the things that the mind evaluates its happiness on are irrelevant to what you truly are. What you are is the peace that is beyond the things and even the mind itself. Yes, the mind is a thing, after all.
You have done nothing to deserve this happiness nor can you do anything to earn this lofty contentment, but you can indeed see that you have it already. This is the invitation. Take a breath; you are exactly where you need to be. Go ahead and try to leave where you are!
I want to see you do it.
Having Goals … NOT the Goals of Having
Having a goal in life is wonderful because it gives a direction and a feeling that we are living with purpose. Without that, we can feel like we are floating around and lost. If you are like me however, and have no clue about where you are supposed to go or even have a particular passion, then let me share an observation that helped me.
Just pick something and move towards it. I am speaking practically now, not necessarily about spiritual practices. Of course if you feel passionate about becoming a monk, then by all means pursue that end. But what about ordinary life, like work, you may be thinking? We are supposed to do what we love. I have never really found a job that I love, I know many people have found one and I think that is great that they can live their passion. My passion is to teach people meditation, but as of now, I don’t earn enough money doing that to cover living expenses, so I have a full time job.
If I could pay the bills with closing my eyes all day I might give that a shot. Any sponsors out there? Actually I did try that for a period of time, but ultimately it appears the heart wanted a more complete life. Besides I was so blissed out that I started to just wander around smiling and staring at things for far too long. One day while I was in a “floating on bliss” state and I stopped and heard angels singing in a hill near the retreat centre. I listened to them in awe, it took me a few minutes to realize that they were also just bees buzzing. In that state it didn’t matter since they sounded angelic to me despite their bee forms. It was at that point that I thought I’d better go back to the “real world” and get a job. Putting me in a coffee shop where I would be serving hot drinks to people in that state would not be a good idea. First I would have had to stop drooling to be able to function. Of course, if your goal is to drool, then obviously that is okay; just make sure you have a towel and somebody to watch over you so you don’t fall over and hurt yourself.
So direction in life is valuable—especially when you are young and trying to find your way in the world. For me, like other young people, this was difficult. I was jealous of the kids that rushed off to university full steam ahead. Yet, also early on, I started to see that some of those people I was jealous of did not really have a goal per se but rather, a goal of “having.”
The goal of having is like an empty pit that never gets filled up. There isn’t enough to “have” that will satisfy anyone with this affliction fully. Of course we all know this deep down if we are honest. So this goal is not really achievable, but more a habit or a programming of the mind than a real goal. We are taught through experience in the world that by having things on the outside we will feel safe and secure on the inside, and ironically the opposite happens. Now we need to protect everything we have, argue about it with anyone that seems to threaten it, and defend our positions about it. It is like a constant carrot dangling in front of us and we get stressed-out living in this cycle.
The truth is that there will never be enough because that which is seeking it is born out of lack and cannot be complete; it cannot be complete because it is not based in reality.
At first when I saw all of this as a young person, I rejected the whole idea of goals and getting because to be totally honest, I didn’t want to be another sheep. I didn’t have the clarity at the time to see the whole picture; I threw the baby out with the bath water. Life did not improve for me and seemed only to get worse. Why? Without a goal, I became self-absorbed, lost, and apathetic. I saw the world as a hopeless maze of uselessness. In other words, it was depressing to see the meaninglessness of life.
From the perspective of clarity and openness—or spiritual maturity—seeing that the goal of having is meaningless is entirely liberating. Why? Because it loosens the power that the ego has on controlling our happiness based on external rewards. It doesn’t dissolve the ego necessarily, but redirects the attention inward to see that what we are is already happiness and that by having something else will not change what we already are.
Giving up goals completely before we understand our true nature can be inviting disaster. By giving up the goal of having, however, it is an invitation for joy and contentment in what we already have—both on the inside and the outside.
Now that we have re-prioritized our attention on “a” goal instead of on “the goal of having” the part of us that feels separate—aka ego—can still have anything it wants. By picking a goal, which could be literally anything we want, we give what we perceive as the separate individual with its separate mind what it wants. We give it something to chase. It then has a purpose. By giving it something to chase, such as money, a relationship, or a dream vacation—we can tell it to shut up while we enjoy our life. Here is your goal now: Shut up! In a gentle way we can focus now on where our true joy is located. It is located nowhere outside because we are already FULL inside now and this is the joy of discovering that you really do want everything you have right now.
This does not mean we don’t save for that dream vacation and enjoy the heck out of it when we finally go, but rather that everything we have is a bonus. Did you know that about life? Life as it happens when we are content with what the universe has given us is extra icing on the cake.
By focusing on the highest desire, spontaneous miracles can then shower all over your universe.
This does not happen overnight—unless you are really good at enjoying where you
are—but by having clarity on this changes how you will perceive your world. This is how powerful you are. You have the opportunity to see that you indeed are already “happy.” This is a fact. If it is not seen, then there is an investment/interest/seriousness/identification in something on the outside that will make you happy. Don’t despair. Welcome to the club! All we can do is continue to remind each other. Simply observe what really makes someone happy permanently. We all know what makes someone superficially happy, just go outside to Starbuck’s and see the faces light up as they get their iced latte, wait that includes me too, hello there!
The Way of Being
There is not really a way of being since whatever is happening now IS the way of Being. What we really want is to live like Being (Stillness/Silence) because if we do that, we are totally content and blissed out. By exploring the Silence this becomes inevitable.
The good news about the inward journey is that we are simply re-discovering how to be what we already are. As Anthony de Mello puts it, “our life is in a mess.” Once we stop denying this fact we can start to do something about it. This is easy if we have a path to rediscover what we are. Since obviously we are already what we are, how difficult could this be?
Logic tells us, it would be the height of simplicity and effortlessness. This is the only reason we don’t experience it. Our mind is complicated and confused with thinking and learned ideas about who we are. The wonderful news is that all your ideas are wrong. Yes even your most enlightened ideas are wrong. Why? Because what you are is not an idea. What you are is beyond anything you can come up with. How lucky are you … you infinite you, you.
The Art of Meditation in Daily Life
By having a practice that you can rely on to take you inward to discover the Silence within, you guarantee that you are moving towards freedom and joy. The Source has been called many things in the past, such as Stillness, Infinite and God. What is important is that this Source, which we seek out as the goal of meditation, is absent of all movement and change. This is why it has been called Nothingness and also why it is mistaken as a blank Void. This nothingness is actually fullness, completeness and requires nothing to make it more complete. So don’t bother trying to add to it.
Our experience of life and meditation—which are not actually two things—will always be perceived as having movement and change. The point is not to stop that, but to re-discover that which does not move. The reason why it is the Source is because it is the root of all change and movement. In its purity, it remains still, absent of all objects. Therefore, we call it pure subjectivity. It is the calm lake. Our mind is like the lake that is sometimes disturbed, distracting us from the wholeness underneath. Our focus in life is primarily on the surface trying to calm the waves and ripples on the surface, yet always we have the whole lake at our disposal. Dive in and explore!
To understand all of this is complicated and unnecessary. To live the aliveness of Stillness in daily life is what we crave. This is the whole point to a practice—whatever that may be. Going inward is the return to the wholeness of what is always our essential nature. It is simple, easy and available with the right tool to do the job.
When we take time to go inward—preferably two or more times a day, eyes-closed—we infuse our life with the fullness of what we are. This puts the whole power of the lake or ocean behind our little existence and the appearance of time on the planet. Suddenly our life gets easier as we can see through the drama and have the sight to see with clarity. The clarity has always been there, we have just had our awareness off in some strange direction, all entirely in our head.
So the bottom line is, going inward to discover the Silence is paramount. All good comes from this exploration.
What is Important?
By discovering what is important, we can line up all our ducks in a row. Our focus on what matters to us creates a priority in the universe to get us what we want. We can have it all, but not if we are scattered in our focus. Clarity is important because we can see where we are going. I don’t mean a mental picture of where we are going, but an easy and simple goal, like peace, joy or freedom.
The universe can more easily give us freedom than anything else because in truth, we already have it. The secret is that freedom is all that the universe wants to give us, which may explain why whenever we are unfocused things can tend to get messy.
Of course the universe will give you the car, the job and the sexy partner, but we must be clear with what is really ultimately important. What is eternal and what is temporary?
Don’t worry if you don’t understand all of this right now, because by simply starting to move towards your heart’s desire, everything good will come out of nowhere to help you on your path.
Lying on the Fresh Green Grass Looking Up
Have you heard the expression, “wherever I go I take my head with me?” Or how about, “wherever you go, there you are?”
This is true and you also take every “thing” with you. If you think about this for a moment or two, you will realize that this has always been the case. There is no escape. This is your universe. This is your gift. It is an invitation. To accept the invitation is to enjoy the grass you are lying on. Some enjoy the feel of the warm sun as they look gaze at the sky on a clear summers day. Others prefer the slight cool of lying under the shade of a big leafy tree, enjoying the beauty of the contrast between the bright green leaves and the bright blue sky.
This is the life—this is your life—why not begin to enjoy it?