The key to happiness is to recognize where the river of your fate and try and align with it. If you’re in a raft and the river turns left but you just really wanna go right, you’re gonna hit a bank. Stay in the water, follow the stream. How you do that? It’s complicated, but don’t think reality can really fit in your head. We just have elaborate conceptual maps of reality in our head. But out there, in the wilderness, is the real real. And it is alive and trying to contact you. There is intelligent love in the universe, and you have a receiver for its communications called your brain and spinal cord.
It’s way better than Netflix or video games. It’s called the logos, the word, daimon, guide, etc. It has the answers to your questions, but it won’t tell you everything. It will tell you just enough to light the river in front of you. It is your lamp, but it is only a lamp. The idea that spirit will totally make you manifest everything you want is specious. It will give you crumbs, your daily bread.
The great all or God or Brahman or Allah cannot fit in your brain. Your brain is a God dissecting device. God is the totality, and every word is a dissection of that. Like the tao, it cannot be spoken. Words divide and section things apart. God can only be felt by the heart of the mystic, expressed in a joyous smile, or felt in the in the twirl of a sufi dancer spinning to experience rapture.
God cannot be communicated. The Tao Te Ching says “those who know do not speak, and those who speak do not know.” Our network cables called language cannot handle the infinite bandwidth of the totality which cannot be named. The teacher can only point at the moon, he cannot give you the moon. So I think it’s best to end this post with a big fat nothing, called…
The origin of my suffering was the pursuit of a life without pain. Acceptance of the element of chaos within every moment of my life taught me that I cannot build castles and towers of Babel to remove myself from pain. Pain is my teacher and should be befriended and listened to so that I might grow. A modest life in tune with nature seems to me to be the path or way. A life of poverty has been instructive to me.
One might ask “how do you know what is modest?” If you are not lying to get wealth through manipulation or directly stealing wealth, then you can do as much with your time as possible to build defenses against calamity. Unfortunately, our American lives are built on stolen wealth, and that wealth should be returned so that our lives are closer to Earth and closer to pain.
Our cultural notion that a “primitive” life, close to the Earth is a miserable existence is so baked into our collective consciousness here in the West that we cannot imagine a simple, anarchic existence of living in tune with nature. The very influential philosopher Thomas Hobbes described the primitive existence of humans as “nasty, brutish, and short.” And yet, now we have constructed lives that are nasty, mind-numbing, and longer.
Within our beings is a plant called wisdom. In order for that plant to grow, it needs to be watered by the tears of pain and lighted by the sunlight of humility or it will never mature. This is the present that we find ourselves in, a present without wisdom because we have vanquished pain and eschewed humility.
This life exists so that we might grow from children into adults. There is a seriousness that needs to be achieved in order to live a fulfilled life. That is my experience. Seriousness saved my life. Life need not be serious all the time of course, but until one can look life starkly in the face and have true acceptance for one’s part in what’s gone wrong and be able to make changes to correct the situation, you are not there. You can live without wisdom, but you will miss the point entirely and probably will need to distract yourself with shiny things until you die, unfulfilled.
“If you can empty your mind of all thoughts your heart will embrace the tranquility of peace.”
If you understand the limits of your mind, you will be free. Your mind is devious and always trying to prove how great it is, but knowledge from the mind has deep limitations. Laozi understood that all judgments are just paired opposites describing one whole monism. When you say that this post is boring, you only know that it is boring in relation to something in your head that is exciting. The mind is forever hobbled by binary thinking, and the sooner you realize that your mind is just a blowhard troll that won’t leave you alone, the sooner you can stop listening to it. And when you stop listening to it (by meditating for example), it will slowly start to leave you alone. We let our minds torment us because we take its missives so seriously.
Make no mistake, I understand that the mind is powerful, but it is limited by its nature. The heart, however, is unlimited. What is the heart? I don’t really know, but I know that in my chest, there burns a fire that I call God or Goddess or Elohim. There are a lot of things about my internal self that I can’t put into words, but that’s just a limitation of language and therefore the mind. Just because I can’t communicate something doesn’t make it unreal.
One of the most repeated lines in the Judeo-Christian Bible is to have no fear and yet fear is ubiquitous in modern society. We understand intuitively that fear is dangerous and yet we remain chained to it because we believe that fear is necessary. But can we act in our self-interest without fear? The mind and fear are conjoined twins that will never be separated. We must put value on the heart and body and move it away from the mind if we want to have peace.
Put your mind in its place. Stop listening to its directives. You will be fine. Don’t just trust me on this, try it for yourself. Sit down and do nothing. At first, your mind will throw everything its got at you to get you to do something. But if you just sit and do nothing, it will slowly give up. This will take time. It will not happen overnight. Ultimately, to defeat fear, we must have perseverance. This is a journey that will last a lifetime. But you might have peace where terror once dwelled.
I was highly doubtful of this kind of thinking years ago, but divorcing my self from the directives of my mind helped me to break up from fear. I’m not perfect, but I’m a lot less anxious than I used to be, and that is some damn good medicine.