Be Of Good Cheer

"What is planted in each person’s soul will sprout.” ~Rumi
“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” ~Rumi

Magnificent Male Kudu

"Joy is the ultimate insurance for life. To be happy is not the ultimate aspect of life. It is the fundamental aspect of life. If. You are not happy, what else can you do with your life? Only if you are happy, can other great possibilities arise in your life.” ~Sadhguru

If you have been studying with me for any length of time, you know my love for Chapter 15 from “The Untethered Soul” by the Buddhist author, Michael A. Singer. Chapter 15 is a transformative chapter exploring the possibility of ‘unconditional’ happiness. Happiness without conditions or happiness despite conditions.

“The Untethered Soul” is such a great title for a book and an incredible idea. Can you imagine your soul unfastened, disconnected and free from the restraints of your past, conditions in the world and our own limited thinking!  I know we get to do this when we lay these bodies down --- but wouldn’t it be awesome to do it now?  I read this chapter almost 5 years ago and I would say that my over-arching commitment to persistent and unfettered happiness has proven worth it --- Happiness despite losing my job during covid, my sisters health challenges, euthanizing both of my animal companions, my own health challenges, and so on and so on. The world did not stop being what it will be – but something in me shifted my perspective and capacity to hold adversity without losing my stride.

Singer says, “You only have one choice in this life and it’s not your career or who to marry, or whether you want to seek God.  In the end, you can throw all of that away and just make one underlying decision.  Do you want to be happy or do you not want to be happy?  It’s really that simple.  Once you make that choice, your path through life becomes totally clear."

He goes on to clarify that the question doesn’t include conditions.  ..  For example, I want to be happy if nothing bad happens.  Or I would like to be happy but I lost money in the stock market today. 

 He continues:  “Do you want to be happy or not…. If you decide that you are going to be happy from now on for the rest of your life, you will not only be happy, but you will also become enlightened. Unconditional happiness is the fastest path to awakening.”

Several of the spiritual teachers that I have studied over the years emphatically express the idea that happiness is the path to higher consciousness. How can you live fully, with an open and generous heart if you are mired in sorrow, anger, resentment, low self-esteem, or any kind of mental, emotional, physical, or spiritual unhappiness. There are many  occasional life circumstance which bring normal and unavoidable temporary sadness, grief, mourning or malaise. Our predominant state of being can be contentment and happiness anyway.

 Most of us have been taught that there is something unnatural or ungodly about being so happy. We have been trained by well-meaning people to lean more into unhappiness than happiness as we navigate our lives. Not merely unhappiness, but dissatisfaction and discontentment. We are slow to acknowledge the state of having, doing or being enough. Always wanting more, better or different. The media has been working on us since we were babies, convincing us that more is better, bigger is better and that we are not ‘okay’ without ‘their’ deodorant, beer, and pharmaceuticals.  It is not a mystery why we are so heavily dependent on outside resources having no awareness that our inside resources are sufficient unto all things – health and happiness. We really are okay just the way we ware.

Imagine a spaceship landing on earth in the United States and the aliens learning all about us by watching 24 hours of prime-time television. Can you imagine the stories they would take home to their people? After those 24-hours the conclusion would have to be that as a people we are violent, sick, angry, constipated, and depressed!

  You and many others might pose the argument against the possibility of ‘unconditional’ happiness by providing evidence of a miserable world. Who would have the audacity to claim happiness when there is so much that seems wrong? Everywhere we look, people are suffering from not enough money, love, friendship, food, or possibilities. There are so many of us that live in miserable and truly awful situations.

But there is a metaphysical problem with the argument. It ignores the relationship between us and the world.  Does the world reflect misery because we are miserable or are we miserable because the world is inevitably miserable? I would submit based on my knowledge of metaphysics, consciousness, and the creative power of our minds, we cannot separate what is happening on the inside of us and what is reflected on the outside of us – true both individually and collectively. The idea that our inner state is wholly dependent upon outer circumstances is living from the ‘outside in”. This orientation to life and living will keep happiness elusive as we wait for the right person, amount of money or circumstances.

Innate happiness and joy are qualities of the Spirit, and these qualities are imbedded within us.  A change in how we experience the world and ourselves in the world, requires an internal adjustment not an external one. Living from the “inside out” affords us the greatest possibility of living an authentically good life.

Think about the people in your life. Can you spot the ones who lift you up, enhance your experience of well-being, cause you to feel glad to be around them? And can you spot the ones who drain you of energy, having nothing good to say about anyone or anything, worry about everything and then spew all that negativity and you find yourself wanting to run away – even if that someone is your mother or your spouse?

Abraham-Hicks said, “In your pain you offer the world pain. In your joy, you offer the world joy.”

Jean Huston, author, and human potential worker says, “You are not just an encapsulated bag of skin dragging around a dreary little ego.  You are an evolutionary wonder, a trillion cells singing together, an organism; a symbiosis of cell and soul.”  This quote strikes a chord of jubilation inside of me.

Our path as ones who seek to live a good life, , is a path of transcending the ego’s way of viewing the world and rather practice dominion over our capacity to create our lives using the power of our minds. It was Abraham Lincoln who said, “I reckon people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

I am not really a bible person, but I love the quote from John 16:33

“In the world you shall have tribulation but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Tribulation means trouble and suffering. I don’t think there is an argument that living in the world does provide its share of trouble and suffering. Your cat dies, the world experiences a pandemic, you lose your job, your wife leaves you, or you have a bad hair day. “I have overcome the world” simply speaks to the idea that there is within us, an omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient something that is the Spirit of life and is that which makes us whole, perfect and complete regardless of that which occurs in the world. We are built with the capacity to rise out of diversity.

This striving for your life to be happy, content, excited, accepting, generous, peaceful ----- is not only good for your life – it is crazy good for your health – and crazy good for serving others as a generative and generous force in the world. This means we can be among the side of those who uplift and make glad, rather than one who sucks energy and happiness out of a room. Let us each be a positive influence on those around us. Doing so over time will establish new patterns of being together on this dust-ball hurling through space. It is the part each one of us can play to make a true and lasting difference. Commit to and practice “unconditional” happiness and see what happens for you as well as the people around you.

These ideas are not about turning our backs on suffering and pain. They are not about pretending life is better than it is. It is about choosing where to focus our attention. We always choose one thing over another thing. Love or fear. Happiness or unhappiness. These ideas merely acknowledge the awesome responsibility we have to direct the course of our lives – from birth to death. And as we do this with our eyes and hearts firmly gazing inwardly, we provide the foundation for being a living contribution to the raising of consciousness in the entire world. Perhaps the entire cosmos. Remember the quote, “In your pain, you offer the world pain. In your joy, you offer the world joy.” Which will you offer?

“Unconditional happiness is the highest technique there is. You don't have to learn Sanskrit or read any scriptures. You don't have to renounce the world. You just have to really mean it when you say that you choose to be happy." ~Michael A. Singer





 

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