Day 7 – How I found happiness today or ‘keeping it real’
Well, I was pretty unhappy yesterday – stressed out, overwhelmed and wondering how much more I could endure. So much so that I nearly ran into another car on my way home! Fortunately this gave me enough of a shock to stop and think ‘I’ve got to snap out of this. This is certainly not the direction I want to be taking.’ And yet the stress lingered on somewhat, albeit it had taken on a different defeated flavour.
This morning when I woke I didn’t follow my usual sequence of meditation practice but rather just sat. I could begin to see the possibility of just being, without striving and expectation.The dots began to join as I considered the teachings that I had received on contentment last week from Sogyal Rinpoche that had such an impact on me. The essence of these teachings merged with the insight I had after hearing another of Rinpoche’s teachings on shamantha meditation when I saw how clearly I continually grasp at the future. ‘It will be ok when I…’ ‘I can rest when…’ ‘I’ll do that when…’ Shear torture. This sort of thinking leaves no one at home and puts a tremendous strain of the nervous system, always thinking, thinking, worrying, posing different scenarios about what could happen – repeatedly!
Yesterday the thoughts felt like acid on my brain and I could actually feel a physical strain inside my skull! This morning, however, I felt like no way, ‘I ain’t listening to you thoughts, something has got to change!’ And when they started creeping in again in desperation I made a heart-felt prayer for help not to fall into this discursive way of thinking again – I couldn’t bear the thought of another day being caught in the samsaric drama estranged from the spaciousness and clarity that I am beginning to become acquainted with – thank you Rinpoche and all the other amazing beings, circumstances and experiences that have brought me to this place.
Then things began to shift. I could clearly see what grasping at the future and my aversion to how things currently are look like. Just recognising them was enough to let them slowly dissolve. I also sat with some of those ‘worst case scenarios’ that had been savagely haunting my mind. I thought ‘ok, so what if I have to live with this?’ My first reaction was grief and despair but this was quickly replaced by a sense of well if this is how it has to be then this is it. If this is what I have to work with. I can see now that grasping after a future (even if it is a dharmic / spiritual one) is not the path to happiness – it’s a slight of hand of the discursive mind. ‘Yes, strive, work, try to gain. This is the path to happiness.’ Happiness can’t always be in the future dependant on things being just so. Let’s face it, life rarely follows a prescribed path.
In addition, this world is brutal and having some level of acceptance of that (as opposed to living in hope of ‘Hollywood on Earth’) is helpful. If I don’t expect that things will always turn out sugar-coated then I won’t be disappointed. I need to keep it real and see things for what they are. There is a lot of suffering. We are all struggling daily with one thing or another. Accepting this seems to allow space to have compassion for myself and those around me. I make mistakes. You make mistakes. We’re all running on the hampster wheel bumping into each other and stepping on toes. We’re trying to do our best but,let’s face it, we bugger it up frequently. I know I do or even, at times, I might have no ill-intention at all but someone else takes it out of context. What else can we do when we live in a world that has some serious flaws and contradictions? We can resist and repress it (or blame others perpetually) or we can face up to it and go ‘yes, things can be pretty shit a lot of the time’ – how could they not be when we see such high suicide rates, something drives people to that – ‘yes, I do have trouble getting my point across to others at times. In fact, I don’t even know what I want or what is going on for me a lot of the time – if I did I wouldn’t be pursuing happiness would I? I’d have it. Yes, I have no idea what my future will be. But, hey that is how it is and putting that aside, I am going to get on with it and find out what it really takes to find genuine, lasting happiness. Not tomorrow but today. Maybe even in this moment.’