A Meditation master once said that the purpose of life is the expansion of happiness...
Human beings have always sought happiness (pleasure) over pain. Most spiritual philosophies warn us of the pursuit of pleasure (desires) and its consequences. Some suggest that we must wait for happiness; it could be the coming of a savior, after we die, or after we accumulate certain merits or karma. The world of spirituality and new age doctrines package the pursuit of happiness in colorful wrapping paper offering a variety of methods and practices that propose to reveal or deliver the experience of happiness in the here an now.
While the narrative changes somewhat from century to century, philosophy to philosophy, speaker to speaker, the search for happiness continues to be the driving reason detre for most of the population of the planet. We want to be more, do more and have more. The words may be elegantly phrased or camouflaged as verbiage, but at the end of the day it's still a choice for greater levels of pleasure and less pain in life.
On the surface we may qualify our choices as missions, visions or quests; sanctifying the noble pursuits, while demonizing our addictions. Of late, over the last ten years or so, we have been spammed to death as certain selective teachings of antiquity are now being disseminated to mainstream population. Dangerous precedents are being established, wrapped up in packages of various sizes that focus on expanding the level of happiness, success and good fortune we can experience in life by providing us with various strategies that purport the idea "we can create our reality", for the most part it's all about being more, doing more and having more; a form of spiritual materialism.
Don't get me wrong, I've spent all of my life pursuing, clarifying and trying to improve my game and to some degree the game of others in our ability and quest to realize the perfect dream. In fact, my new book explores specific insights on the quest of dreams, inspiration, passion and change! But this is only one factor that will contribute to the experience and expression of happiness in life. Unless we discover Who We Are happiness will continue to be a fleeting flirtation, entertainment for a mind that will alway want and need. The best case scenario for "superficial teachings" that explore the being, doing, having paradigm is that they will somehow open a doorway for the reader/practitioner to explore deeper aspects of who they are.
What I'm really interested in, is the details in the intonation of the narrative itself. What needs to change for the most part is the focus of the story which has not changed in centuries; a conditioned belief that our happiness will be found in "things'. They could be material things or spiritual things but they are still things! What has not been clear is why we have been coached, coerced and commanded into the belief that pursuing happiness and desires, passions and pleasures at a "carnal" level can lead to a life of destruction.
With the regurgitation of "we create your reality" teachings the line of ambiguity has become very blurred. The spoken word of what can be gained has become more important than the unspoken word of what is potentially lost, unspoken words that contain the essential ingredients towards an integrated experience of happiness and Who We Are. What is significantly missing in many teachings is the importance of having detachment while in the pursuit of those "things" and more importantly the "hidden truth" that there is ultimately no "I" that can attain or gain, that there is no "I" who can achieve or receive.
Most people want to live in an up universe. A place where there is no suffering and pain, where sickness, poverty and war have been eradicated from our existence and for some, the experience of others. Failure of the mind to rectify the juxtaposition of opposites is the source of suffering for many spiritual seekers, the concept of inner perfection is not enough. For most, outer perfection is denied on the basis of a phenomenal world that expresses distinction and the mind which has in it an irreconcilable formulae of misunderstanding that will never see perfection in the coexistence of opposites.
The gift is not the experience of perfection, but in our ability to perceive perfection in the midst of diversity and distinction, in the up and down of life. Our obsession with happiness, heightened only by the degree of unhappiness that is rampant in the world, often overshadows the need for detachment and the examination of the validity of an "I" that will get more, be more and do more. What needs to be recognized is that the pleasure/pain dichotomy, the quest for happiness is simply a subtle expression of our nervous systems "drive to survive'.
Left unchecked,one might begin to believe that it is the "I" that creates ones reality, that it is the "I" that will gain more, do more, have more and be more. What needs to be recognized is that as long as we continue to identify the "I" as our essential being, we will cap the level of potential happiness available to us in the moment, and in most cases, suffer. We need to move beyond the "drive to survive" way of thinking, feeling, acting, doing, regardless of how "deserving" or "noble" the story may be.
No "I" has the power to create, be or do things. No "I" can ever hope to secure the kind of happiness that is so freely offered for meager prices. Happiness is not a destination. The be more, do more, have more trance seductively distracts our attention into a vacuous smorgasbord of delight and we lose our self in the mirage of the phenomenal world.
I'm all for improving the quality of our life; I teach and attend courses that serve to create awareness around such things, but there is much more to the picture perfect life than ones ability to simply repeat affirmations with the hope that we will attract the perfect relationship or abundance into our life!
Every one of us craves inspiration and happiness in life, but are we willing to explore the necessary ingredients that make up a wicked recipe for an integrated experience of happiness that includes all dimensions of awareness, that is defined by and grounded in Who We Are? Are we willing to do the homework that clearly suggests that the "source" of life is beyond what we think, feel, be, do and want in life?
To do more than scratch the surface of happiness, we must be willing to examine every idea, every notion, every belief and every projection we have ever learned about happiness. We must be willing to embrace the authentic Self while we sample and embrace the pleasure and diversity of life that has been so abundantly provided.
The quest for authentic happiness will never be found in things. Happiness cannot be found until we discover more of our authentic Self, a Self that lies beyond the trinkets, bells, and whistles that so easily distract. We will never quench the thirst for happiness until we first quench the idea that by doing more, being more and having more we will cultivate a happiness that brings the level of fulfillment we have been questing for.
Here are some questions to help you scratch and dig a little deeper:
How do you define happiness?
What influences you in this definition?
Has your definition of happiness changed over your life?
What made it change?
What are your top 10 symptoms of experiencing happiness?
What three experiences in life would you consider to be you're most important, memorable, or valuable experiences of happiness?
Who is it that is seeking happiness?
Who is it that defines happiness?
Who is it that is being influenced?
The most important question...
Is there a who?
" Pleasure is a freedom-song,
But it is not freedom.
It is the blossoming of your desires,
But it is not their fruit."