For the dedicated truth-seeker on the spiritual path, the journey will always demand commitment, determination, courage, confront and adaptability.
And yes, like everything in life, a positive attitude and approach IS important.
And this is actually a very empowering understanding, because your perspective and your attitude is up to YOU. You are the one who can, at any moment, choose to change your view and your attitude towards life.
Now, let me make this clear: I am not speaking about putting on your rose-coloured glasses and pretending that everything is just wonderful when it simply is not. Adopting a positive, constructive and self-empowering attitude needs to be grounded in a healthy desire and commitment to perceive and know the truth.
If your ‘positive attitude’ is based in deluding yourself, avoiding and denying the difficult areas that need confronting and working on, living a lovely illusion where nothing is ever short of ‘wonderful’, or where the issues are always someone else’s….then you are not in touch with reality. All your are doing is lying to yourself, and THAT is disempowering, not empowering.
The first step to empower yourself is to commit to loving the truth above all the comfortable illusions and glamours, all the lies that you may –consciously or unconsciously – have told yourself.
This process of embracing the Truth is a progressive unfolding. It is extremely unlikely that one day you decide to perceive all the Truth as it really is, and ‘BAM’ you have it! To be honest, all of us, no matter how far we have come on the spiritual path, still perceive such a small portion of the ultimate Truth of All. To open up to all of it at once would overwhelm all our faculties and coping mechanisms, and probably kill us. We simply could not face process it so fast.
The process of building illusions, avoiding and denying feelings or issues, is a coping mechanism. When we are either not ready or not willing to face the truth of a situation, we often limit our perception of what is happening in order to take only that which we feel we can safely cope with. This happens physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually. A very simply example of this is how people can pass out, ‘check out’ physically, when undergoing too much physical shock or pain. It’s very common. When things get too much, the person ‘switches off’. When it gets too much for us, we put up a sort of wall to stop us experiencing the reality of what is really going on, be it within us or around us. We avoid and deny the truth. Unfortunately, for almost everyone, once these walls are up, they stay up.
For example, if something emotionally challenged you when you were 5 years old, you put up a wall of denial around this particular issue or feeling. Then, for the rest of your life you keep shutting out this issue or any of these types of feelings. One problem with that is that what you could not cope with at 5-years old, you could probably cope with now. So you are needlessly shutting this part of your experience out.
Another problem with this process of avoidance and denial is that it becomes a bit like a funnel: The more we resort to pushing away painful or challening experiences – the more denial and avoidance areas we carry – the more limited our perceptions become. The more we deny our experience , the less we are in touch with who we are, what we feel. We end up almost blindfolded, with a very limited ability to perceive the truth about us or the life that surrounds us.
This is how we end up as an adult, having a sense of self which is actually such a small part of all that we are! We become like icebergs: who we are conscious of being, our conscious sense of ‘self’, is like the tip of the iceberg… A much bigger chunk of us has become subconscious, hidden under a reflective surface of denial. Most of us are not even aware it is there!
Another consequence of this avoiding and denying in order to cope is that the more you do it, the more you get consumed with trying to ‘cope’ and protect yourself from anything that threatens the safety of your comfort zone. The more you do this, the more you get caught up in fear and maintaining your avoidance in denial in order to ‘survive’, physically, emotionally or mentally. You become more and more invested in maintaining the lie and begin to defend your illusions and denial with the ferocity of a cornered animal. We become defensive, aggressive (including passive aggressive), aloof, manipulative or scared. We run away, point the finger… we get caught up in the fight of flight instinct of the animal self.
It is not a pretty picture, yet it is all too familiar. I am sure you have seen it, or felt it, before too.
So, one of the first steps in adopting an attitude for success on the spiritual path is to accept that you carry a whole lot of hidden ‘iceberg’ under the surface of your avoidance and denial, and to try and NOT be defensive around it. If you love the Truth more than you love your comfortable lies and illusions, then you will be willing to acknowledge the denial where it is, instead of attack those who point it out.
Of course, you need to be in discernment. Don’t just take anyone’s opinion at face value. Usually, a sign that you have an issues is if you have any charge around it. If you get triggered, however mildly, into judging, attacking, defending, justifying, being self-righteous, wanting to prove the other person wrong, rebelling, pushing away, shutting down, manipulating, overthinking to override feeling… and so on, then you most surely have some denied or avoided issue there that you need to look at.
Now, the other side of the coin here regarding this understanding is to see that the only way to return to a state of Grace and reclaim the truth of who you truly are is a lot more about unravelling than about piling on more things. It is a process of undoing, not ‘doing’. It is about melting the layers of false identity and illusion, not building on more layers on top of our personal iceberg.
And while we learn techniques, wisdom and develop certain skills and abilities on the way, you will never get anywhere by trying to pile new integrations on top of all your dysfunction and denial. In order to learn and grow on the path, you need to make room for the new knowing. Only by emptying some untruth in yourself, facing them and letting them go, can you make room for the truth to rush in.
Nature hates a void, so if you make room and stay aligned, attuned and connected to the highest Truth and love possible, the Universe will just fill the space with wondrous new knowing.
Happiness. A lovely concept… or is it?
What is happiness? Perhaps for you it is a successful career and a generous 6-figure annual income, or perhaps it is a white-picket-fenced dream with all the spouse-kids-and-dog trimmings, or perhaps a never-ending travelling adventure, or world stardom, or a bottomless stash of your drug of choice, or eternal youth and fitness…
The quest for happiness has become almost epidemic; yes I say epidemic! It is used by corporations and marketers to sell us an infinite string of products which are all – if you believe the hype – going to give us happiness. Does it though? Of course not. At best it will momentarily scratch the itch, but it won’t be long until we resume the ‘happy search’. The way I see it, the concept of happiness as most of us perceive it today could as well have been invented by these same corporations and marketing/advertising companies. Why? Because the pursuit of happiness has become the first and foremost motivator of our consumerist, hedonistic, pillaging society.
Like happiness junkies, we are constantly chasing our next happy fix. The more we buy, use, take or consume – not only in terms of products, but also from other people, relationships and from nature itself – the more we have an apetite for an even bigger fix! “Give me my next buzz of falling in love, or getting that hot guy/chick into bed, or my next dream holiday to get away from it all, or my next win at the money machine”…etc.
The truth is, happiness is a selfish pursuit. It is all about ‘what’s in it for me?’ and ‘how much can I take to make me feel better/happy?”. And this, when it becomes such a primary motive and intention of billions of people each with their own little happy fairy tale scenarios, can become a very destructive way of life. How do you think we came to be in such a dire environmental situation? Because we have been taking and keep taking and taking and taking in order to bolster our comfort and happy little lives. Almost everyone who has contributed to the mess we are in – which is all of us – has done it out of hunting for their definition of happiness. Whether it is becoming a billionaire or having great political power, feeling safe against the threats of nature or eliminating perceived ‘evil ennemies’, it is all about everyone chasing and defending their little piece of the cake.
Am I urging you to give up all your dreams and instead martyr yourself for some vague notion of the greater good? Absolutely not. Instead I am introducing here the idea of refining and realigning our dreams of happiness to be in harmony with the greater good. Yes, it is possible! This necessitates a radical letting go of certain base fears and limiting beliefs, and demands an expansion of the mind to embrace a deeper understanding of what true, lasting happiness is really about.
One foundational hickup in our current concept of happiness is that it infers an inherent lack within us. If you participate into the general obsessive happy hunt, you simply have to believe you lack something which can only be filled by doing or obtaining something or someone outside of yourself. This false happiness is not something you have and can experience as a birthright, or a god-given; it is something you must chase, search and find…for the illusion of a moment. Just like the idea of being born in sin, our chase for happiness has condemned us to feeling deffective right from the beginning and thank you very much! This in itself is a faulty premise.
The second misconception around this notion of happiness is that being happy is a constant, steady, flatline experience: always happy and smiling, never experiencing pain or loss. This is a nice little fluffy dream filled with pink bunnies and candyfloss which has little to do with life and – let’s face it – would be dead boring if experienced for more than five days! Just as light cannot be discerned without darkness, so our joyful moments cannot be discerned without the ecstatic agony of pain and sorrow. The key to transcending this faulty notion of happiness is to let go of the judgment of pain as something ‘bad’; to accept it as part of life and to cherish the wonderful learning and growth that comes from such delightfully and frighfully difficult experiences. Joy and sorrow need to be embraced equally and perhaps this in itself could be subject for another post.
The third faulty foundation is that true, lasting happiness can be obtained by possessing or experiencing something outside of yourself… I am sure you have heard about this one before. Nuff’ said.
In the end, the transformation of faulty happiness into genuine, healthy happiness comes down to asking yourself which part of you seeks a certain happiness: your deepest heart and spirit, or your little fearful, selfish, dysfunctional ego? True, lasting contentment and joy is an experience of the spirit. It is independent from the limitations of space and time or the phenomena of our daily dramas. The little negative ego -which is the sum total of all your fear-based patterns, beliefs and attachments – can only experience imcompleteness and the fruitless race to obtain relief (always momentary) from itself. It does this by triggering ‘happy’ sensations which are nothing but a lovely distraction from the sobering truth that ego/fear cannot transcend itself. Fear is not something you get genuine relief from, it is something you face, feel, acknowledge and let go. Fear is not something you act on, indulge or satisfy, it is something you clear and move beyond.
If you are honest with yourself – and I mean really honest – you will know whether your ‘happy dream’ is about the heart and spirit, or about appeasing the struggles of the little ego self. And please, do enjoy life, fall in love, buy yourself a spanky new car and get the dog that go with your children and white-picket fence. But do it because you choose to, not because you need it to feel better about your life. Embrace your life from a place of love and wholeness and heart-empowerment, not from trying to fill a hole within. Be clear on your motives and intentions, and life will gradually re-orient itself around your choices.
Remember also that this kind of happiness – real and true happiness – is often challenging and stretching because it has your best interest at heart. We live in a benevolent universe and love will encourage you to grow into more of who you truly are. Love is generally not the easy choice, and neither is true joy and contentment. It is not easy because it goes against the grain of your fear and selfish preservation patterns. It seeks to empower you and allow you to find your place in the world. To embrace true happiness, one usually has to let go of false happiness. This means letting go of all the fears and needy attachments that used to drive the search for false happiness.
What happens when you follow the call of the heart, with your courage in both hands as you face and release your fear? The Universe sucks you into place. Spirit guides your choices. What makes your deepest soul’s heart sing just so happens to also be good for the greater good! You don’t need to even know what the greater good is, let Mrs Universe manage all that. All you need to do is make sure you make your spirit happy, not your ego. This happiness is not always full of bouncy squeals, but it is however deeply fulfilling and meaningful. It knows the difference between doing what feels right vs. doing what feels good, and the results are a good feeling that reaches to the root of your being in a way only truth can.
Now, if everyone on the planet lived this way, I believe we would be a far way off from global warming and rampant warfare, the rat-race and growing social unrest. We would all be in the process of falling into place and allowing each of us to be our own unique version of happy.
I say yes!