Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Feeling Good All The Time

I completely understand the longing and desire to feel good all the time. After all, we are wired to pursue feeling good and avoid feeling bad as a mechanism of survival. Of course we will choose comfort, safety and feeling good over discomfort, unsafety and feeling bad. It's the only reason why we are still around - because instead of choosing to stay in the freezing cold, we chose to seek temperatures that allow us to remain alive. Instead of choosing foods that taste awful and are poisonous, we chose to eat nourishing foods that taste delicious. Instead of choosing... well, we all get the point.

Fast forward a couple thousand of years and here we are. In a world were all of our past choices as a species led to the present times. A time when our desires and drives have remained the same, just that are completely different in content. Now, it's not a choice between staying in the freezing winter that will kill us due to hypothermia, now it's a choice of whether we want it to be 70 or 74 degrees according to our heating unit or air conditioner. Which will it be? Now it's not a choice of whether to go for that suspicious looking berry and that tried-and-true apple. Now it's whether we want a chocolate chip cookie or a slice of tiramisu. Our choices have changed a ton, wouldn't you say?

The answer is an obvious yes, and the irony is that studies have shown that the more choices we have, the more overwhelmed our brains get and the more stress we experience. Things were definitely simpler and easier when our choices were two and one was the obvious right one and one was the obvious wrong one. When we have hundreds of choices, our brain panics a bit and freezes a little. "What should I choose?" "What do you think?" "Which one is the best?" Questions we have all been asked by friends. 

But, shouldn't we be experts at choosing? Shouldn't we just KNOW what we want? Especially now that we have all this generational and collective practice? Seems like not. And THIS is EXACTLY WHY I love the ancient tradition of Zen. Because it brings me back to the beginning of time, where no phrase is wiser than something as simple as "Chop wood, carry water."

A very different message from the promises of spiritual enlightenment that I imagined as a tween that was just beginning to dive into spirituality. Back then, if someone tried to sell me Zen, I would have rejected it as quickly as I would have rejected anything that made any sense back when I was in my twenties. "Screw anything logical, rational, reasonable and true," covertly said the resistant and self-centered voice in my head. Why have Zen when I can have infinite bliss and happiness?

And here's the answer: because there is no such thing as feeling good all the time. Because that simplistic and reductionist view of what is possible in life is nothing more than a pipe dream and an utter fantasy. And although I can completely understand the innocent belief in its possibility, I can completely see that it's just not true or possible.

Now, spirituality is not about seeking to feel good all the time. Now, spirituality for me is about acceptance of the reality of life. Now, spirituality is about paying attention to everything and believing nothing. Now, spirituality is about allowing life to be what it is and has always been. Now, spirituality is about embracing and being intimate with. Now, spirituality is about letting life speak to me and dictate to me rather than the other way around. Now, spirituality is about surrender and not about control. Now, spirituality is about taking responsibility and not about dreaming and hoping that magic will save me. Now, spirituality is about saying saying thank you for all blessings rather than asking for more. Now, spirituality is about receiving my life openly rather than resisting and fighting the love that I am.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Being Alone

It's funny how often, when I write, I have this silly illusion that I am possibly writing for somebody else. It's never true, yet I often fall for it. Why? Probably because I want to believe that someone out there will keep me company as I write. I imagine myself and the reader, both together, happily ever after.

What's actually happening, however is that I'm leaving breadcrumbs for my lost soul to follow. And I feel a good little trail about to make itself on the way to the screen.

Being lonely and being alone are two completely different things. Being lonely is another way of saying being empty of awareness of one's majesty. Being alone is another way of saying being completely whole and at peace within oneself. Being alone is like being all one. Yes, all one in the sense that there is no referencing a supposed second or third within one's being. There's no looking for a reflection of one's image, there's no attachment to being accepted, loved, embraced or any of that. There's no ATTACHMENT to it. Read that slowly, my imaginary reader. There's no ATTACHMENT to being accepted, loved, embraced or any of that. Again, read that slowly, my imaginary second.

Human life has its way, its game, its rules, its modus operandi. And regardless of what those parameters are, freedom lies in not being ATTACHED to any of it. Yes, I know this may get annoying and even worse completely incomprehensible, but perhaps you can sense what I mean. It's the relinquishing of ATTACHMENT that solves the mystery of human suffering. And when we relinquish ATTACHMENT, we discover what being alone means. We discover what being all one means.

I know how annoying reading something, connecting deeply with it, sensing it and even deeply understanding it, can be. But it's only annoying when we feel so close and yet so far from what our deepest essence registered. That so close but yet so far can be a tiny split, but it's enough of a split to cause one to go insane. Yes, especially when we try to push and force, like this guy that's writing this karmically tends to do. It must be all the zeal.

Luckily the thirties have arrived. There's less naivete, less immature energy and less confusion. And that can be a saving grace.

Maybe aging is all about coming to terms with our inherent aloneness. Maybe aging is all about making peace with a truth that we're conditioned to not see, even though it's blatantly obvious. Maybe aging is all about growing into sensing the great alone that we are. And maybe that doesn't mean that we have to be lonely and maybe that doesn't mean that we have to be alone. Maybe that just means that we relinquish our ATTACHMENT to not wanting to be alone and to wanting to be alone. Maybe this is a great part of the letting go that humans have to go through in order to arrive at peace. Letting go of ATTACHMENT.

And what is attachment anyway? The obvious answer is fear. Fear of loss, fear of life, fear of death, fear of fear. Fear of not having control. And what is fear? Confusion. And what is confusion? A lack of insight. And what is insight? Seeing what is. And what is? You're it.

Funny, I'm alone while I write this and you're alone while you read it. And even though there's someone a few feet away from me, that still holds true. And even though there may be a bunch of co-workers or whoever around you, you're still alone. How do you react to that? It's a good question because it's a good measure for how at peace with yourself you are. How being alone makes you feel is probably the way you really feel most of the time - except for those moments when you trick yourself into believing you're not alone. Because the fact is that you are alone. You are alone with your thoughts, emotions, feelings, ideas, beliefs, opinions, notions and all the rest. And this is why those of us who do not enjoy our inherent aloneness become ATTACHED to any of these - because if we don't, we'll discover the truth that we irrationally fear so much. It's just the way we've trained ourselves for whatever reason - and so what? It's not a problem if we're not ATTACHED to it. Right?