Brisbane – Australia – June 2021
“So, why don’t people feel happy?” asks Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, P.H.D. (in psychology from Stanford), who has been featured on CNN, in the N.Y. Times and many other renowned news networks.
In answer to her own question, she said, ‘Because our lives are clouded by our individual stuck patterns of thinking… because of getting caught up in the drama of life… because of the turmoil of negative emotions… because of being obsessed with possessions and wealth… and fear, distractions, limiting beliefs, toxic relationships, grudges, judgement, self-doubt, and craving.’
We all know that it’s true and that, too often, the thoughts that spring within the moment underfoot throw us off-course and dump us unnecessarily on rugged terrain.
Thoughts can do that because we have not tried hard enough to align with our heartfelt intentions.
They can do that because we have not kept them soul-fully neutral.
They can do that because, a few millennia ago, long before we were born, our early ancestors chose to think that human life, such as they perceived it through the senses of a physical body, was the real stuff, the only real stuff there was.
At least for as long as our human body keeps being breathed.
And so, the endless succession of generations that have followed one another, if only for the past 12,000 years, was not inspired to align the body and its spirit.
However, back then, as is often the case today, political leaders adapted their pursuits to the popular religious beliefs active in their area. Their ability to speak in the name of the highest entity referenced at the time bolstered their power considerably.
This sort of political tactic is still rife in the 21st century.
Of course, ancient spiritual traditions have always existed but, then as today, too often, what heartfelt coherence was felt in the temples stayed … in the temples.
Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Indian and Vietnamese religions, and their understanding of non-violence, non-attachment and non-absolutism, and the Torah’s ten commandments have tended to remain separate from mainstream living – not just in the Europeanised’ west’.
More recently, within the current generations alive today on planet Earth, the awareness that only the body and the mind working together as one can bring us to a state of joy and contentment is finally, very slowly gaining some momentum.
That understanding is assisted by the findings in the relatively recent field of neuroscience made widely available to the public.
As an aside, modern science also confirms that, however briefly it might be sustained, fervent praying, even religiosity, accompanied by a deep sense of bonding with a congregation, produces an increase of dopamine in the brain.
As does social bonding over a football team of our choosing, intense group-togetherness evokes a feeling of love, loyalty and solidarity.
As does feeling one with many in the intimate bubble of a cinema; that of the shared experience of a concert.
Or that of an exhilarating dance party.
Reality check #1: up to a point, we like being close to others.
We love energising loudly the language of the bond that boosts our self-esteem.
As long as we remain awake and aware throughout the process, what’s not to like, huh?
For now, let us breathe in/out consciously, slowly, as we settle on a thought from Pema Chödrön, the inspiring Buddhist nun and author. ‘You are the sky,’ she wrote. ‘Everything else – it’s just the weather.’
Reality check #2: our aim as evolving beings is not so much about cancelling emotional pain and suffering.
It is about taking the suffering and the pain out of our psyche.
It is about breathing through it.
It is about transcending it.
It is about turning it around so that it works for us like a motivating force – no longer against us.
Bottom line: generally speaking, we can conclude that the ‘impact’ of our thoughts and actions speaks louder than words.
Thus, any resulting impact matters a lot more than ‘intentions’ do.
And the impact of what we feel, think and do daily should never be underestimated.
Good news: unsolicited thoughts, we know, always hail from past experiences. Thus, time is always upon us to control these gate-crashing fragments and amalgams from the past by allowing them to vanish into the past where they truly belong.
Reality check #3: as the neutral observers that we are intended to be, we can always limit the contamination of brand-new moments as they present themselves underfoot.
We can do that by ‘pausing’ our thoughts between moments.
Any easier flow through tense moments helps build up our resilience.
It helps balance our energies.
That is one way we can choose to become differently aware of the choice of responses available to us in any moment underfoot.
Encapsulated in the time it takes to consciously breathe in – and breathe out, is where we find each new moment.
‘To react or to respond, that is the question’, Hamlet might have whispered if he really wanted to question the value of life, the meaning of his existence, instead of contemplating a premature exit from life on Earth.
Plato wrote the well-known Allegory of the Cave in 375 B.C.E. (Before our Current Era).
That’s a very-very long time ago, but there are times when we are like the cave dwellers of Plato’s Allegory.
Shackled from birth in such a way that limited their movement, these beings could only ever face a stone wall. The moving shadows cast by the wood fire behind them represented life … beyond the cave.
As neutral observers, we might conclude that, perhaps in a similar way, we are galvanised by the plethora of celebrities strutting their stuff via our screens, often oblivious of the life happening behind us and within us.
As these people move and speak on our screens, we, too, think this is ‘the’ life.
Heads up: beyond brief moments of euphoria, success is not what we think it is.
Fame in one’s chosen field, earning more money than one can spend in a lifetime, being seen as one of the generation’s geniuses, being known for having the hottest of looks, enormous power or charisma.
We know none of these attributes brings sustained happiness into anyone’s life.
Benjamin Franklin, too, knew it was true when he said, “Wealth is not his that has it, but his that enjoys it.”
We nod in agreement.
We understand this.
We really do.
To Benjamin Franklin’s quote, we could add, ‘Confidence is not his (or hers) that projects it, but theirs that carry it within’.
Having said that, while on our life-long search for happiness, millions of us choose to covet a life that, karmically, is not ours to live – one that we are not intended to co-create with the universe.
At the same time, we also engineer for our selves and others a life based on conditional love/approval – a life that lacks heart-based coherence.
No pressure, right?
Pressure is what happens when we perceive a ‘crisis’ in the moment underfoot. Instead of operating from the framework of abundance, gratitude, and the ability/freedom to enjoy what we do have and do well, we immediately operate within the framework of lack, of deficit.
It triggers a killer mindset for most of us.
It keeps us stuck in an operating mode that is released from the shadow of our selves.
From our bruised ego.
In this, we are all equal.
All the while, the fundamental nature of ‘life’ keeps going through and around us.
Just as it does within and through us.
We know that more awards, accolades, millions of fans – more bling and more stuff won’t ever fill in the actual gap.
The love gap.
The love deficit.
Heads up: if we remember that our biography is our biology, we should also not forget that no life thrives where nothing changes.
In other words, dear Reader, we stop judging our selves.
We let go.
We breathe consciously.
We trust the truth of our selves.
We trust that we are much more than our bodies and out’ valuables’.
And now, dear Reader, we are ready to jump into the flow of coherent possibilities – the flow that is always in motion through and around us.