(Chapter 6) “What is the Key to Lasting happiness? (pages 81.- 94.)
One that causes, creates, or initiates; a maker.
Behind the curtain of your intellect and emotion is your self-image or ego. The ego is not your real self; it is the image of yourself that you have slowly built over time. It is the mask behind which you hide, but is not the real you. And because it is not the real you, but a fraud, it lives in fear. It wants approval. It needs to control. And it follows you wherever you go.
There is a beautiful poem by the Indian poet Ravindranath Tagore, who is speaking to God: “I came out alone on my way to my tryst. But who is this that follows me it in the silent dark? I move aside to avoid his presence, but I escape him not. He makes the dust rise from the earth with his swagger; he adds his loud voice to every word that I utter. He is own little self, my Lord; he knows no shame. But I am ashamed to come to thy door in his company.”
The ego is the prison you have built around yourself, and now it holds you captive within its walls. How do you know this happened? You have to know that any time you feel discomfort in your body, your ego, which is e-g-o or edging-god-out, is over-shadowing your inner self. Fear, doubt, worry, and concern are some of the energies associated with your ego.
And what do you do? The best way to dissipate these energies is to feel your body. Just feel the localized sensations in your body, and keep feeling them until they begin to dissipate. And how do you break free from the captivity? You break free by choosing to identify with your inner self, the real you. You break free from the prison of conditioning when you feel neither beneath anyone nor superior to anyone, when you shed the need to control other people, when you create space for others to be who they are and for your real self to be what it is.
You break free when you no longer defend your point of view, when you no longer use stereotypes or harbor extreme likes or dislikes toward people you hardly know. You break free when you refuse to follow the impulses of anger and fear, when you act from humility rather than belligerence, when you tread gently rather than with swagger, when your speech is nurturing rather than scathing, when you choose to express only your love.
And how do you know when you are free? You know you are free when you feel happy and at ease instead of fearful and anxious. You know you are free when you are independent of the good and bad opinions of others, when you have relinquished the need to seek approval, when you believe that you are good enough as you are. You know you are free when you surrender to the moment, to what is, and trust that the universe is on your side. You know you are free when you let go of resentments and grievances and choose to forgive.
A Prayer in the spirit guidebook A Course in Miracles says that every decision we make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle. By letting go of grievances, we choose miracles, because grievances are the melodrama of the ego that overshadows the spirit. When you relinquish all grievances, judgements and resentments, you truly break free and find your soul
The soul is the source of creativity, understanding, peace harmony, laughter, and possibilities. It is a place of stillness, which is beyond labels. But as soon as we use a label, we create an image that overshadows what is real. Somebody once asked Rumi, “who are you?” And he replied, “I do not know who I am. I am in astounding lucid confusion! If you label me and define me, you will starve yourself of yourself. If you box me down with labels and definitions, that box will be your coffin. I am your own voice echoing off the wall of God!”
Rumi is saying that we create our self-image by all the labels that people give us. Without those labels we are the free spirit and the free flow of the universe. As soon as the labels come, good or bad, then the self-image, or ego, begins to overshadow the inner self.
The world of the ego is time-bound, temporary, fragmented, fearful, personal, self-centered, self-absorbed, and attached to the known. It clings to pleasure and recoils from pain. The world of spirit is timeless and eternal, free of past and future, whole, joyful, open and accessible to all. The world of spirit is the world of community, insight, and love. This world is real, undivided unshak-able, dynamic, creative, self-sufficient powerful, and free of limitation, expectation, and attachment.
The world of spirit is the source of all power. There never was and never will be any other source of power. What the world calls power is really fear that leads to manipulation and control of others which in turn leads to violence and suffering. Real power is the power to create, the power to transform, the power to love, the power to heal, and the power to be free. Real power comes from our connection to our deepest self, to what is real. That is why powerful people are self-referred, not object-referred. These two terms need a further need a further explanation.
As we have seen, abject-referred means that we identify with our self-image or the objects of our experience to understand ourselves. These objects can be situations, circumstances, people, or things but whenever we refer to objects to define our identify, we are operating out of object-referral mode. Object-referred individuals evaluate, understand, and try to know themselves through the eyes of others. The characteristic ingredients of object-referral are conditioned thinking and conditioned response, which means living under the hypnosis of social conditioning.
The first sign of object-referral is fatigue. Why? Because we have relinquished our power to the object of reference. Ultimately, this causes discomfort in our body or, even disease. Object-referral is the basic cause of unhappiness, and in the Vedic worldview, happiness is the most important factor in health.
There is an interesting fable from India that illustrates what object-referral is all about. There was once a man who had two things that he valued in his life. One was his son, and the other was a little pony. His whole sense of reality came from referring to these two objects. Then one day the pony disappeared. The man was devastated because he had lost half of what he truly valued. He was in the depths of despair thinking about his lost pony, when the pony returned with a beautiful white stallion. Suddenly from the depths of despair he was in the heights of ecstasy.
The next day, his was riding the stallion and fell down and broke his leg. So from the heights of ecstasy, the man was now in the depths of despair. He was wallowing in his misery when the government’s army came looking for all the young men to go to war. They took every young man in the village except the man’s son, because he had a broken leg. So from the depths of despair, this man was now in the heights of ecstasy. You can guess, of course, that this story of object-referral has no ending.
By their very nature objects change, and as long as we identify with objects, we will never know our real essence. When we evaluate and understand ourselves through objects, or through the eyes of other, our life is like a roller-coaster ride because the only constant about people, things, situations, and circumstances is that they change. If our identity is tied to these, then life is always going to be unstable.
The opposite of object-referral is self-referral. When we are self-referred, we identify with our inner self, the unchanging essence of our soul. We feel wonderful regardless of the situation, circumstance, or environment we are in. And why do we feel wonderful all the time? Because we don’t identify with the situation; we are the detached, silent witness of the situation. We are secure in who we are, and we have no urge to prove this to anyone. If we had the urge to prove this to someone, then we would again be evaluating ourselves through the eyes of others. Self-referral is an internal state of joy, and this is different from happiness for a reason.
Of course there’s always a reason to be happy. Somebody says, “I love you,” and that makes you feel happy. You win the lottery and make a million dollars; that makes you feel happy. This kind of happiness is an expression of object-referral: Your happy because of this; your happy because of that. But inner joy is independent of the situation, circumstances, people, or things. When you experience inner joy, you are happy for no reason. Just the mere fact of being alive to gaze at the stars, to experience the beauty of this world, to be experientially alive in the miracle of life itself is your happiness.
Everything in life is transient and changing because that is the nature of this world, but when you are self-referred, you enjoy the change instead of resisting it. People have asked me, “What about situations that are difficult to accept? If something bad is happening in my life, how can I be happy instead of negative and depressed?” Well, by going back to your source, by recognizing that whatever is happening, it comes and goes. You don’t need to look positively or negatively at a difficult situation. To always look positively at a difficult situation is artificial, isn’t it? If I were to positive all the time, first of all I’d be terribly boring. Second, I’d be terribly unnatural. Third, nobody would want to be with me. To always look negatively at a difficult situation is also unnatural. I’d just become exasperatingly negative and a total bore. To be natural is the best state to be.
I once had a patient with a serious disease, and I had never seen her in a mood that was not so-called positive. She was exasperatingly positive, and finally I asked how she could do that. She broke down and said she was petrified of having a negative thought. But isn’t being petrified of having a negative thought a negative thought in itself? Of course it is, so we don’t need to manipulate our thinking. To manipulate our thinking is an artificial thing, and one which the Vedic tradition calls mood making. It’s better to be spontaneous, and in the spontaneity is joyfulness. It’s better to be natural, and to let the universe play itself out through us.
What is a negative mind? It’s an interpretation. What is a positive mind? It’s also an interpretation. And the difference between a positive mind and a negative mind is sometimes quite superficial. If you ask me if preferable to have a positive mind, I’d say, “Of course. A positive mind is preferable to a negative mind,” but both a positive mind and a negative mind can be a turbulent mind, and sometimes one can switch to the other very quickly. Courage can become fear in the twinkling of an eye. Love can transform into jealousy in the twinkling of an eye. There are turbulent minds. More important than a positive mind is a silent mind.
We have to learn to go beyond both a positive mind and a negative mind to become a silent, nonjudgmental, nonanalytical, noninterpretive mind. In other words the silent witness. In the process of silent witnessing, we experience inner silence. In the purity of silence, we feel connected to our source and to everything else. The tendencies that emerge from this connection are evolutionary and spontaneous. In silence, we just flow with the tide and spontaneously become nonjudgmental, nonanalytical, and noninterpretive about situations, circumstances, other people, and ourselves. In silence, inner energies spontaneously wake up and bring about the appropriate transformation for every situation.
There’s a saying that goes, “The river of life runs between the banks of pleasure and pain, and one bumps into both.” That’s not the problem. The problem occurs when we cling to the banks, either the positive one or the negative one. When we quietly reconcile ourselves to all the contradictions that life offers, when we can comfortable flow between the banks of pleasure and pain, experiencing them both while getting stuck in neither, then we have achieved freedom.
Joy and sorrow, happiness and suffering, are the play of opposites; they are transient because they are time-bound. Spirit, the essential you, is independent of the play of opposites; it dwells in the silent bliss of the eternal. And when you know yourself as this field of pure consciousness, then you are living from the source, which is bliss.
That’s why the key to lasting happiness is to stop looking for it, and to know that you already have it. If you look for happiness, you will never find it. If you think it’s around the corner, then you will keep turning the corners. The real key to happiness is to live and play in the field of intelligence that is beyond positive and negative. That field is your source, and it is magical, holy, joyful, and free.
Happiness and sadness are different faces of infinite consciousness. Both are transient, and you are neither because you are not a state of consciousness. You are consciousness itself expressing all of these states. Why would you want to identify with a wave on the ocean or a mere drop of water when you are the ocean? you are not the ever-changing behavior of the ocean. And this water-i-ness of the ocean? And this water-i-ness doesn’t change.
The real nature of a person is Being, which is not thought. To experience lasting happiness, you have to go to a place beyond thought and experience inner peace. It’s not that you have to have a positive attitude. It’s not that you have to shed your sadness and bring in happiness. You have to go beyond both; otherwise, it’s just another version of positive thinking. You have to go beyond the world of duality to the field of pure potentiality and live from your source.
Rumi in one of his eloquent poems says, “Out beyond ideas of right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.” This field is not in the realm of thought. It’s beyond all ideas, and all concepts, ideas, and interpretations. In this field that fear and Rumi is talking about, there is power to manifest your desires, there is freedom from and limitations, and there is that good-luck factor known as grace, which is the fulfillment of desire through synchronicity and the support of the laws of nature.
I thought this particular Chapter was very thought provoking and I want to practise the the principles Deepak Chopra talkes about. It especially enthralled me when he stated:
“LET THE UNIVERSE PLAY ITSELF OUT THROU US”
I would really like to get to that point where I can enjoy seeing that happen in my life and on regular basis.