When somebody curses at me or calls me names, I remind myself that the epithets are just garbage coming out of the attacker’s mouth. The issue is not personal and it is not about me. The other person is having a bad day. He/she is having an energy release, and I just happen to be the nearest observer to witness it. I am then able to watch the torrent of words without emotion. I look at the other person with curiosity, even interest. The strange thing is that when I bring awareness into the situation, it begins to change. The energy turns from harmful to healthy. Why? Because I created an opening for the universe to dissolve the negative energy and transform it into positive energy. I am left with a fresh, powerful feeling.
When troubles arise, we seem to lose our balance. We are overpowered by our emotions and overwhelmed by the concepts in our head. We see no way out. The more we try to solve the problem, the worse things get.
But when we become still, we become aware of a power that is greater than us. This consciousness — which is omniscient, all-wise, all-loving, all-embracing — moves through us and connects us with all that is. This is when the right answer comes to us. We know it is right because it is for the good of all, not just for a few people. We realize that we are not separate from the whole, but are part of the whole.
Unhappiness is everywhere. It is embedded in our mind, which by its very nature is chaotic and problematic. It wants to control and take things. It is always fighting the present moment because it fears the dissolution of forms.
We are run by our mind so we look at life from a limited perspective. We see the procession of forms and not the space that allows the forms to be. As a result, we only see fragments of life, not the totality of life. Life, in all its glory, is benevolent, abundant, and helpful. Whereas each passing moment is subject to the polarities of life: good/bad, happiness/unhappiness, success/failure, and so on.
The way to be free from unhappiness is to de-personalize a situation. We look at a dilemma as if it were happening to somebody else. We put the situation inside a box and we watch the event from outside the box. For instance, if somebody calls us stupid, we put this person in an imaginary case and look at him/her from the outside. This person may yell at us and call us many names. But we remain calm and peaceful because we know that they are inside the box and therefore can not hurt us.
We discard our harsh judgments and rigid expectations about the person and the situation. We accept each moment as it is. This acceptance doesn’t mean doing nothing. It means we acknowledge this moment and do what is needed. We go with the flow of life. We become fully alive and enjoy the freshness of each moment.
This is when fear and desire lose their hold over us. We watch the play of forms and realize that there is nothing personal against them. It’s just the way of the world. We begin to play with them and even enjoy ourselves in the process.
Suffering is the fire that burns up our ego so our pure, true self can emerge. The ego is that voice in our head that is constantly thinking, judging, imagining, needing, wanting. Its needs are limitless and illusory. Everything that we can insert after the words “I am _____” or “We are____” is associated with the ego. We define ourselves by who we think we are. We are beautiful, handsome, rich, successful, educated, famous, etc. The list can go on and on. These are ephemeral things that are here today and gone tomorrow. Yet, we cling to them with every fiber of our being. We identify with the illusion of ourselves.
Suffering releases us from illusion. It brings us back to the source of all life by getting rid of all concepts that come after “I am” or “We are”. We are stripped of our ego, so we have nothing, like the rest of creation. We are then able to feel our true nature, which is “I am” or “We Are“. Nothing else needs to be added to our true selves. We are whole and complete now.
However, suffering is painful and excruciating so we often run away from it. Our ego is not ready to be burnt up. We don’t want to lose our identity. We dredge up thoughts, emotions, feelings from the past or expectations of the future to keep our identity in place. But if we allow the fire to burn us up, we create space for our true self to arise. How is this done? We don’t resist what happens; we let it happen. We watch events unfold without getting entangled with them. We watch people leave us and things taken away from us. We empty ourselves into God so He can come in and make us whole. We go beyond the boundaries of our limited mind and return to space, which is our origin. We become spacious, boundless, limitless.
We resist the world in two ways: we want the negative things to stop and we force the positive things to continue. We do what we can to avoid or get rid of the negatives and we search for ways to let the positives stay. This is considered normal. This is also insane. Why? Because this pattern of resistance is going against the flow of life. We pull one way and life pulls the other way. This friction causes disruption, unhappiness, diseases, stress. We believe that if only we can get rid of the negative situations and focus on the positive events that our lives will be better. But unfortunately this is not the case. The positive already contains within itself the concealed negative. We can not have one without the other. It is part of the dance of life.
So how do we deal with the fluctuating forms that come and go without going mad? The key is to allow things and people to be as they are. We don’t force our opinions and judgments on others. We permit events to happen without interfering with them. We create space within ourselves so forms can move the way that life intended them to be. We then notice that things magically improve. The negative that we once avoided, but were forced to accept, suddenly changes into something creative and beneficial. The positive that we clung to would have turned into excess and waste, had it not been curbed. It is only through non-resistance and surrender that we go beyond the play of forms and experience the beauty of life.
It often seems that the more we try to change something, the harder it gets. We try to get rid of an addiction but we find ourselves doing the same thing over and over again. We try to change our partner’s personality but he/she resists our efforts and we end up breaking the relationship. We try to be loving, responsible parents to our children but we are overwhelmed by the myriad things we have to do that we hardly pay any attention to them. We try to be a good worker but there is so much backstabbing in the office that the atmosphere is crackling with toxicity.
Why are things difficult? Why do we have to go through so much hardship to achieve our goals? And why do we fail so often? The reason is because we force the situation to bend to our will. We want something or someone to make us happy. We attach ourselves to the situation, every fragment of it. Our attention is focused entirely on the form of each moment (good or bad), and not on the formless (the space that allows everything to be as it is). And because every form is fleeting and ephemeral, we are in a constant battle to hold on to it. We further strengthen the situation with our negative energy and resentment. And when things don’t go our way, which is always the case, we resort to using alcohol or drugs to numb the pain. Or we find another partner who we think will bring us happiness. But once the effects of alcohol or drugs subside, or our partner’s flaws come out, the pain comes roaring back. Then we are really in trouble because we feel there is no way out.
But the truth is that there is a way out. The key is to allow this moment, good or bad, to be as it is. Instead of fighting each moment, we look at it without any judgment or comment. This is at first hard to do because our mind tries to take over our body. It wants us to do something, even if that something causes us harm. But if we continue to observe things, we are creating space within ourselves. We allow the universe to come in and work through us. And it does a far better job than what we, in our limited capacity, can ever do. Why? Because the universe is whole, whereas we are only a fragment of it. When we allow it to enter our lives, we let go of our fragmented views and become part of the whole totality, which has the fullness and richness of life. We feel an aliveness within us that is much more powerful that any potent alcohol, drug or person. We feel our true self, and are able to connect with everything and everyone. Out of this sense of awareness comes the solution, answer, or right action.
So if we want to change something, we start by accepting each moment as it is. Even if the present moment brings with it pain and suffering, we surrender to it. We realize that suffering is the fire that is needed to burn our ego so our pure, true self can emerge. We go beyond good and bad and experience the fullness of life.
The mind always tries to trick us into thinking anxious, toxic thoughts. Whatever we do is not enough. We hop from one job to another searching for the dream job in which our talents are recognized and we earn lots of money. We get ourselves deeper into debt to get a good education, a nice house, or an expensive car, in an attempt to gain admiration from other people. We go from one relationship to another seeking the perfect partner so we can be happy and fulfilled. We seem to be on a perpetual treadmill of chasing the next moment, hoping that it will bring us satisfaction. But when we achieve our goals, we find that we are not satisfied. That we should have done this or we forgot to do that. There is this infinite need for more that gnaws at our very existence.
Why is this? And why do we continue on this endless, useless quest for more? Because we look to the various forms—which are fleeting and unstable—to fulfill us. We look outside ourselves for the truth, when in fact, the truth is within us. But if this is the case, how come we don’t feel this truth? Why isn’t everybody looking within for the answer? Because our true self, that which is one with the truth, is covered up by our noisy mind. We feel the dysfunction of our mind all the time so we can not feel our inner body, our true self. We get taken in by the stress, the drama, the conflict. And we repeat this pattern of behavior every day.
What can we do to stop this cycle? We start by watching what is happening at this moment (inside and outside ourselves) without judging. This moment is all that we need and carries with it all the truth and answers that we seek. But we have to be still and quiet to know this. We are then able to let go of the past and future. We bring a fresh perspective and are able to do right action. But what if the the mind starts to think nasty thoughts again? We just look at it but we don’t judge it. We repeat this process again and again until we become free of our mind. We break the cycle that had held us in bondage.