Like this image with the old hag and the young woman, there is an optical illusion in the mind of man – one way of seeing gives reasons to justify and see meaningless thoughts, pain and sadness and the other sees happiness, it sees only the garden where we have weeded and only sublime flowers grow. So what we put our attention on is what we see and we may see either deceptively or with the eyes of a healed attention.
Life is a school. It never stops. Perhaps few graduate or appear to right now, but that is inevitable for all. The blocks to “graduation” or a deeper happiness is because we mistake learning for manmade knowledge and, while, there is nothing wrong with ‘manmade’ knowledge – it isn’t where happiness resides.
Happiness, sustained, unmitigated and ongoing happiness lies in uprooting fear and dropping it completely. And fear is lodged, or maintained, in beliefs that are negative and that reside like bacteria on the teeth, until we “brush” them away with the focus of a healed attention.
Wisdom is about understanding the human imagination and fully and deeply embracing happiness. There is a way to outgrow sorrow for ever. You don’t have to be like Buddha who walked away from the world and lived on a grain of rice a day.
You don’t have to be a teacher or go to a teacher, you just have to see how to live and love wisely, or put plainly: how to prune out the weeds of fear and negativity from the garden of your mind, how to see with gratitude and mindful of abundance (rather than inadequacy and lack).
The problem with teachers like Buddha and monks and holy people is that we believe, falsely, that to attain peace and to go beyond sadness, we have to leave the world, give up sex, all this nonsense. That we need all these holy books and regimens and spiritual egos, all the garb and pretention and prejudice. I’m not judging any of that as bad or wrong – but it’s utterly irrelevant to what matters. The form is not key, rather the functionality is key.
And it is nonsense to put fearful conclusions and “gurus” on pedestals in our minds, it creates the followed, the following and so followers. Wisdom starts, and ends, with oneself and how you see. And it is our emotional attention that wins the day.
If we fixate on fearful thoughts, on the ego and its manifold reasons to be upset and sad (whether in ourselves or an apparent other) and if we justify judging ourselves or another, we get that. Or to follow the metaphor of the image posted, if we see the ugly old hag, if we believe in death and decay, we get that.
And yet, there is another way to be, it is rooted in gratitude and loving and harmonious human relationships. It is rooted in seeing the best in yourself and others. It is grounded in love and kindness and it is not abstract, not fake, not formulated, not coerced or negatively manipulative. It is natural and intrinsic.
And when the mind is trained that way, to see in that manner, there comes a point of no return. A place within us where resistance to happiness and the beauty in man is gone.
Fear may be defined as “false evidence appearing real.” Love is real. Kindness is real. Gratitude is real. And, like a muscle trainer, when we focus only on these “muscles” and see beyond all apparent inadequacies in ourselves, and others, there flowers a world within us freed of judgment and blame.
For when judge another we actually only judge ourselves.
That is perhaps the most important sentence a human being can read. If he or she fathoms it fully and understands it, his world is going to bloom and sadness and upset is going to disappear from the sphere of their experience. Maybe a fraction of people get this. But it matters not. Only you have to get it. No one else.
One can observe fear and talk about it – talk about judgments that others make – and the right approach to such things can be helpful to growth – for example one judgment might be:
“Happiness is not perpetual. To be sad is human. To say you can be freed of sadness is an expectation that is too much to place on yourself – and if you have kids – it’s ok to be sad sometimes.”
Where is the judgment in that? Well, it concludes that sadness is inevitable. It rules and judges that we all must be sad sometimes and that that is ok.
But what if that conclusion, that judgment is plain wrong? What if it’s based on a projected premise rooted in a belief in lack and a fearful self-image that is actually false? And what if one sees the false as the false – is that a judgment, or something else, that does not condemn, not undermine or judge, but rather discriminate at a deeper and simpler level?
These are very important questions – how you answer them shapes the life you live, because if you look at the world and yourself and each other with fresh eyes, moment to moment, then you are freed of the past, freed of sadness and upset and a different way of being, based on gratitude and patience, on love and wisdom and meaning flowers in you.
And when you give your whole heart to that, your full emotional attention, the wasteland within you where the weeds of negativity and meaningless thoughts, of sadness and upset once grew and ‘nurtured’ a victim mentality, that wasteland is replaced by happiness and meaning and a garden filled with beauty and dynamism.
And there are no victims in that garden. There are only celebrators. For that is life: at its core, in its essence, it is to be celebrated. And there are no losers there, no winners either. Only happiness and connection. But it takes honing ones emotional attention and repeatedly not giving credence to the “false evidence that appears real.”
And that, that takes courage and guts and determination to know and live in gratitude, gratitude for beauty and harmony and abundance that is nascent and real in man. When we train ourselves to see that way then the wellspring of your authentic self is tapped and that is a treasure indeed.
That is when the Phoenix rises from the ashes of your old way of being. And we can ALL choose to live in such a way; choose to celebrate life.
In fact, that IS living, the alternative is evasion of fully celebrating this life and what is real and uplifting about it. You should not settle for the alternative. Not because I tell you that, but because you have a very happy song inside you that wants to sing. Let it sing. The world will thank you and you will be grateful for living that way.