No matter where you look for it or how desperately you want it, it cannot be found. You feel it and then it slips from your hand, like a fish, and then you have to chase it again and again.
By chasing happiness or contentment in external circumstances, objects, persons, goals, one can taste it momentarily but, in the end, seeking will never stop, nor happiness will last.
No. I didn’t wake up in a bad mood today, nor I want to be “negative”. I am just being realistic and, as most of the time, I try to save you from unnecessary effort. So, if what I said is bad news for you. Here’s the good news. You do not need to look for happiness, because you are already it.
There’s a Zen story where a seeker, after having finished with his social life, wants to find a master, in order to get Enlightened. So, he heard about a Zen master, rode his horse and went to visit him. The master came out of his hut and asked “what do you want?”. I am looking for Enlightenment, said the man. The master replied “why are you not looking for a horse?”. The man said “because I already have one”. The master replied “oh, I see” and returned to his hut.
The point it that you cannot get something which you already are and you cannot achieve something which is already the case. You cannot achieve your hand or your leg, because you already have them.
But why would someone care about Enlightenment? Most people just want to live their lives and be happy. Well that’s the tricky part. The happiness part. People look for happiness and try to achieve it by doing things. I say that the only way, is Enlightenment.
Imagine that happiness is like honey and that there is a jar of honey and that from time to time the honey leaks and lands on our lips. If the jar is invisible and we do not have any cognition about its existence, then the only evidence about it, is the sweetness we taste. We all crave for this sweetness. We all want to be happy. Even people who say that they don’t care about being happy and they care about doing other things, they do the other things in order to be happy. If the jar is invisible, we do not have a clue why we feel the sweetness, from time to time.
The common assumption is that we feel this happiness because of something we did, or someone we interacted with, or because something happened. In other words, we associate this happiness with the phenomena that accompanied this felt sense. This case is no different that the one of a lab rat who believes that cheese appears because he pulls a lever.
Happiness can appear and disappear. Same goes for love or peace. Same goes for the sense of beauty. What is of crucial importance is to make a distinction, a discrimination between those and the phenomena that accompany them. This is called “viveka” in Sanskrit. Peace, Love, Beauty and Happiness, is about the Experiencer and never about the experienced. They are the fragrance of our Self. Who and What we really Are. When we feel those, it is because we are “resting” in this recognition, of who and what we are, and not because of whatever is happening. When they disappear, it is because we stop resting in this recognition and we get identified again with the body-mind. I repeat. These arise when one is dis-identified with that they are not and identified with what they truly are and they “go away” when the miss-identifications return.
The only way for this to stop is to dissolve the “I-thought” the primary habit of identification. The false sense of being a distinct and separate entity.
Coming back to what I was writing above, there are experiences that are conducive, in making one to slip into “resting in the Self”. These experiences must have a naturality and a spontaneity and cannot be reproduced. Hence any attempt to reproduce them will be a dead end. People who “do” spiritual practices in order to have these experiences must understand that the experiences will come by Grace alone and not as a direct result of the practice. A famous Zen master said that Enlightenment comes by accident, but meditation makes you accident-prone.
The experiences that are conducive can be experiences of deep understanding, experiences of beauty, experiences of love and others. They lead to a dissolution of the limited entity and they give glimpses of the Self, which can be short or long. I believe that everyone has felt an experience of deep beauty, looking at nature, or a painting, or a film, or a person. This Beauty is the Self being pronounced in that very moment. Same goes for a deep aha moment, when something is realized. The Truth element of the Self is being pronounced. In the experience of Love, there’s love so deep that the personal “I” disappears and the ultimate Freedom is felt. In Truth, all these are the same thing and all these are the Self, you. You are That.
There is no freedom, without love and no love without beauty and all these do not exist if there is no truth.
I hope that it is clear by know that all these are about the subject (what we are) and not about the object (what we can perceive). What we are, is already free, perfect, infinite, indestructible, beautiful, complete and joyful.
Nowadays, the self-improvement business is flourishing in a great rate. There are so many people that teach others techniques to get better, to improve themselves, to reach their goals in life etc. Although this perspective and this way of living can be more fruitful and can make one achieve more, it can also lead to great inner misery, regardless of the achievements. This happens because, many people, who teach and preach self-improvement, are ignorant about our very own nature, the nature of the Self.
When someone achieves a goal, there is a time period that they experience, happiness, joy bliss, etc. This can last from seconds to, perhaps, weeks. What happens then, is they get back to square one, in terms of how they feel, and they conclude that they should start another project, chase another goal, in order to feel fulfilled again. Continuously chasing goals for feeling fulfillment is like living in a hamster wheel and getting some bites of cheese from time to time. This is true regardless of what the self-improvement mafia wants to sell to you. If the experience of the Self is not as natural as breathing, no course or technique, or way of living will fill the gap. This gap is there, in order to fulfill this (non)accomplishment, which is the greatest and the most important thing that can happen. If this doesn’t happen, the gap will still be there and the seeking will never cease.
Sometimes, people ask me, what should I do. What is the way? There are a few things that they can do and a few paths to take, but, there an ever-greater question that this.
Do you want this with all your being?
Is this something you just want, or is it your FIRST priority?
Is Truth, Love, Beauty, Happiness, Freedom your first priority?
Article is republished from https://tasosnakis.com/blog under the permission of the author Tasos Nakis.