Being Happy

How happy are you? It’s a question that is difficult to answer. Are you really happy, or have you settled for something less? Perhaps a lot less and rationalized your dissatisfaction? Are your personal passions stifled? Are you frustrated with your work or your relationships?

Look at the people around you. How many of your friends are truly happy? How many of them have compromised their inner peace and are basically getting by? I would wager that surprisingly few of them are happy.

Thoreau wrote that, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Certainly we have more distractions than in Thoreau’s time, but I don’t think that things have changed a great deal since his time.

Certainly, life can be difficult and the path has many potholes. But if you consider the monumental expenditure of effort that we make toward healing, both individually and as a society, one would think that a great many people would be dancing on the hilltops like the Von Trapp family instead of suffering in pain and despair. This becomes especially confusing when you take into consideration all the affirmations that God loves us and cares about us. It would seem that life on earth would be a lot easier and more joyful than it is, unless of course, you are an atheist.

The answer, of course, is that it is your fault. You are inadequate and unworthy and if only you were a better person, or more developed or something, your life would be easier. Fundamentalist Christian sects have pushed that dogma for centuries. Unfortunately most people stop there. They assume that they are unworthy and simply never question the assumption. They allow themselves to become wrapped in mediocrity because they are reluctant to address the feeling that something is wrong with them.

It’s an interesting point if you consider it – we desire peace and bliss in our lives, and yet when it comes to something of such importance, we are willing to settle for so much less. Otherwise, why would we waste what little precious time and energy we have being held captive by anxiety, fear, anger, sadness, guilt, unhappiness and a thousand other emotions? Why would we choose to be in relationships where we feel frustrated and unsatisfied? Why would we remain in jobs where they are treated like robots, generally disregarded and dumped by the side of the road when the company downsizes or moves overseas?

I will submit that there is a larger, and more meaningful explanation than our individual or collective unworthiness. If the Creator is the omniscient and omnipresent being that we believe He/She/It to be, then everything that happens here on earth, whether you understand or agree with it or not (even the horrible stuff), must serve some larger purpose in the Creator’s plan.

This means that everything you do has an intended purpose. There is no such thing as a foolish or random act. If it happens, it was intended. Stupidity, chance and screwing up are no longer viable explanations. We may not understand what is happening, but that does not invalidate the premise. Certainly difficult situations can be created for our learning and to generate a reaction, but these are still purposeful occurrences.

Accepting that everything is purposeful will require a significant change in many of our beliefs and societal practices. Today we blame ourselves when things “go wrong,” but if everything is intended, nothing can be “wrong.” It is helpful to keep in mind that we are here to learn and that we learn the most when things are challenging. I have learned a great deal more from my failures, as much as I hated them, than I will ever learn from my successes.

Accepting the premise that nothing is wrong removes a great burden of guilt and shame from each of us. We can begin to see the challenges in life not as expressions of our failure or inadequacy but as opportunities for us to learn and grow. This view also encourages us to look more deeply into the things that we do not as yet understand. This is a view I will encourage you to accept not only because it makes life a great deal easier, but also because it is true.

The things most people worry about like careers, paying the mortgage, raising kids, relationship issues, the stock market and soccer practice are all-important, but they can also become distractions from our real purpose in being here. They pale in comparison to being at peace and knowing life’s deeper meaning. Yet, the answers to these fundamental questions elude us.

Well, they don’t really elude us; the truth is we elude them. We allow ourselves to be caught up in the daily concerns of life because the experiences of our past lives and our recent childhood have convinced us that we are unworthy. Thus, we are inclined to leave spiritual considerations to the mystics of India and priests of the Vatican not because these matters are esoteric or unfamiliar, but because we are reluctant to delve into them.

Living this way also allows us to avoid dealing with a God that we are convinced is not happy with us. We intuitively know that going into our feelings and our pain means dealing with the separation we feel from God. We have felt abandoned by Him in the past and we are afraid to let go of the substitute life structures we have created even though they do a poor job of giving us what we really need.

Most people would love to have a different or better life. The problem is in becoming different so that a different life can happen. Nisargadatta Maharaj said, “The search for reality is the most dangerous of all undertakings for it destroys the world in which you live.” Our attachment to the way we see ourselves and the world can be a significant impediment to moving into a new space. Even though it may not serve us well, the old way is familiar. We know how to work with it.

Our first response is usually to want the world to change so that we don’t have to. One of the biggest obstacles in one-on-one counseling therapy is getting the client to let go of the life structures they have created, no matter how dysfunctional they are, in order to make room for new behaviors and attitudes. In couples counseling one must address the attitude that “It’s his/her fault and if only he/she would change then everything would be fine.” We cling to our fears and egos like rats to a floating log. We resist challenging the beliefs that shape the way we see the world and ourselves.

Besides, we believe that our petition to be loved will be rejected. We fear that if we explore our relationship with the Creator we will be left standing naked in the awful truth that we are lacking. After all, what would you do if the Creator told you that you weren’t worth His time or trouble? But this is an expression of your old way of seeing things. How different life becomes when you accept that everything happens for a reason and that there is something for you to learn in every situation. That makes the Creator a teacher and guide rather than judge and prosecutor. We may not like the lesson, but it takes us out of the realm of being punished because we are unworthy or inadequate.

You see, you are here on earth for one and only one purpose. And it isn’t about amassing a billion dollars, finding peace in the Middle East or even finding a cure for cancer. It’s about what’s in your heart as you go through your day. Life on earth has been created to teach each of us how to live from the place of peace and joy and compassion that is known as The God Space. That is what life on earth is about.

What does living from the God space mean? The concept is simple. It means opening your heart and loving everything. After all, isn’t that what God does? Read The Ten Commandments: love your neighbor, don’t lie, don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t covet another’s wife, don’t worship false gods, etc., etc. In the Sermon on The Mount, Christ spoke of loving your enemies, forgiving people for their transgressions, not judging, being generous and by the way, not piling up earthly treasures (funny how that point has been glossed over). At the Last Supper He offered a new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

Before you start throwing up roadblocks to those ideas, consider a coupe of things:

SPIRITUAL TEACHINGS

If you boil all spiritual teachings down to their fundamental concepts, you will find that for thousands of years teachers all over the planet from a myriad of belief systems and many diverse cultures have conveyed one simple and profound truth. Over and over again they have said: “If you want your life to work, open your heart,” preferably in every moment. “Opening your heart,” means finding a way to not be afraid and live from a place of compassion. It means feeling safe enough to let go and surrender to something greater than your ego-based view of yourself. Opening your heart is the essence of living from the God space.

So, we have known about the road home for thousands of years. Shamanism is at least 20,000 and probably 30,000 years old. The Buddha became enlightened 2,500 years ago. Lao Tsu wrote the Tao Te Ching about 2,700 years ago. The Bhagavad-Gita is thousands of years old;  The Torah has been with us at least 3,000 years. Christ taught 2,000 years ago. Mohammed produced the Koran in 630 A.D., so that even the most recent of man’s major spiritual works has still been with us almost 1,400 years. And in addition, in all those intervening years, millions of preachers, teachers, healers, mothers, fathers, friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles have urged us to live by these principles.

The mystery is that with all that attention by some of the brightest lights in human history, we have not moved as much as one might have thought. But this is not a failure on man’s part. A much larger agenda is at work here.

We have been operating under the rules of The Age of Karma for the last 20,000 years. During that time it has been virtually impossible for us to move as we might have liked, but this also has been part of the Creator’s plan.

The Age of Karma did not support the kind of transformation that is becoming possible today. That age was designed to create ego-based behavior and its inevitable pain and frustration without resolution. The structure of that age was designed to generate feelings of separation from the Creator. And it has succeeded. Over thousands of years of struggle and feelings of failure, mankind has moved very far from the awareness of its God-self. That is why man’s history has been filled with so much conflict, strife and bloodshed.

During The Age of Awakening, which we have recently entered, we will make the shift from lives dominated by ego and fear to ones lived from soul. We will come home by making the conscious choice to accept our Godhood. Having been so far away from it, we will value and honor that state in a manner not possible in any other way.

So, that brings us to the only rule for life on earth, The Universal Rule, which states:

LOVE EVERYTHING

Like all good spiritual principles it is very simple, and rather difficult to practice. The Universal Rule means keeping your heart open, no matter what is happening. It means that when your partner is being cantankerous or the boss is being a jerk, that you remain in a place of compassion toward them. You may not like what they are doing, and that is perfectly fine, but the admonition is to love them and recognize that they are working through their own learning process.

So, when you are stuck in traffic and late for an appointment, when you are worried about not having enough money, when your kids upset you, or any one of a thousand other “problems,” take a deep breath and recognize that this is occurring not as punishment, or because you are unworthy, but because you need to learn to open your heart in that particular circumstance. This situation has been created specifically for you so that you can learn to do just that. That is how the system works. It is not a problem. It is an opportunity.

As difficult as this may be to accept, your life is exactly as it needs to be in order for you to learn to open your heart. It’s not about fairness or who is a better person. It’s not about having a silver spoon or being born under the right stars. It is simply about whatever you need to eventually bring you to the place that you will love everything.

When you realize that everything that happens is a part of the Creator’s plan for you and for humanity, then it is easier to accept everything (even the “bad” stuff) as purposeful. You do not have to like what other people do, and when you deal with them, even if you feel motivated to oppose them, the admonition is to do it from a place of heartfelt compassion. The point is to love the process. After all, when we read the teachings of the Buddha or Christ, isn’t that what they tried to teach us to do? Remember, “Turn the other cheek,” or, “love thy neighbor”?

Practicing the Universal Rule from the beginning saves a great deal of turmoil and tribulation. I don’t like the difficulties that come into in my life, but I recognize that they come to teach. The more I open my heart to what is offered, the easier and more joyful the process becomes, and that is a secret of life!

The soul’s job to create situations or opportunities (we call them problems) that encourage us to open our hearts. It cannot do otherwise. Take a moment and review some of the things that have confronted you in the past. Move beyond the emotion of the situation and consider how you were being asked to express your compassion in that circumstance?

AIDS is not just a disease; it is also an opportunity for us to learn to love each other. So are racial, sexual and ethnic differences. It is through resolving these “differences” that we learn and grow. Hatred and war are fed by unresolved differences. This brings us to a corollary of the Universal Rule. It is called Walker’s rule. Walker’s Rule states:

ANYTHING YOU DO NOT LOVE MUST BECOME A LESSON.

Every time you are given the opportunity to love and you choose otherwise, the universe must respond by bringing your adverse choices to your attention. It does this by making you uncomfortable. Your soul cannot simply allow you to just go on. You cannot come to the table with dirty hands. Either the situation will escalate, or a similar but more intense situation will be created to give you the opportunity (once again) to open your heart in this sort of circumstance. Depending upon your unwillingness to receive what is being offered, your contractive resistance may lead to the creation of pain.

A closed heart is fairly easy to recognize. Things get murkier when we think we are opening our hearts but are really operating from neediness. We see this a lot in relationship difficulties. People come together with love in their hearts, but also from a need to be loved, and that is a loaded prescription.

Since the connection these people make is not a true heart connection but is clouded by their neediness, the Universe is obliged to make each of them aware of their unhealthy motivations. It does this through the creation of relationship difficulties. As with any problem in life, a difficulty in a relationship is a mirror, encouraging the partners to look at how they are not truly loving each other or themselves.

We also see this phenomenon played out painfully in the helping and healing professions. It is called “burn-out.” People usually enter this kind of work with a sincere desire to help others, but also often because there is a hole in them that needs to be healed. This is something that they are usually reluctant to address openly. They project out their inner wounding onto their patients or clients, and unconsciously seek to help themselves through healing these other people. This allows them to not have to address their inner pain. The Universe cannot accept substitutes, and so it brings these people painfully back to their own original pain when the projection fails to give them peace.

Spiritual seekers often encounter a similar dilemma. They come to God or Buddha with a sincere desire to find the truth, but are also often filled with unacknowledged fear, anger, self-doubt and pain. True spirituality cannot be achieved in that state, and so as they reach for the light, the unresolved parts of themselves must be brought into their awareness so that they will have the opportunity to move toward their God-space.

Seekers often become frustrated because they feel that they have stepped on to the spiritual path and asked for help, and have only received more pain. Their already sensitive feelings of abandonment and unworthiness become even more exacerbated. It is only when they step out of their own skin and see the perfection of the process that they can see that they are being given an opportunity to find exactly what they seek. This is a good illustration of how the system works.

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