There is a vast difference between being “happy" and finding a genuine inner peace that “passes all understanding" to quote the book. Happiness is often confused for inner peace. The two are not the same. One can be having a miserable experience and still be at the core “at peace. " You can be suffering through the loss of a loved one, career, belief or be in a health crisis an still have an inner peace. When you meet these unusual people, you remember them. The bottom line is tied directly to how one graciously accepts what is as opposed to demanding life be some other way for happiness to be. Happiness is that shallow and temporary fix one gets from stuff, position and comfort, while peace is that deep ability to not define the real self by such elusive qualities. Inner peace is the ability to say “is that so" when life does what it does and defeat the drama queen in all of us with presence.
Is it Good, or is it Bad?
I have a saying “It’s not good, it’s not bad…. it just is" on the wall in my workspace and many clients comment on it. They like it even thought they can’t quite say why they like it. I think the reason is that down deep, we all know that one can’t judge how something works out no matter how it seems at the moment.
A client knocked it off the wall accidentally and cracked the glass. She brought it out to me in tears and said she was so very sorry. I said read it……I told her she made it even more perfect a truth than before by breaking the glass. I thanked her for how good the crack looked going all the way through the saying. She smiled and said…"I get it…but Dennis, you ain’t right. " I hung it back up and now clients think the crack was deliberate for effect.
Who’s to say what is good or bad? So often what seems so good turns out to make a miserable experience. What seems so bad turns into the greatest teacher and opportunity. Doors open to better ways of being or an opportunity that never would have come any other way. Bad stomach cramps and a morning in the bathroom after an anniversary dinner the night before, gone bad, did , in fact, keep one business man from making it into work exactly where the first plane hit on 9/11. For him what’s bad certainly was good.
A “bad" experience can force one to let go of illusions, falsehoods and wrong concepts that will not serve one’s life experience. A “bad" experience can cause one to become more real, more humble, more compassionate and to possess an understanding . A bad experience, when viewed from the ego which is merely the mind’s false sense of the self can keep one frozen in time, bitter, angry and consumed with changing the unchangeable past. The ego is that unconscious and running mind that views itself as unique and separate from everything and everyone else. The ego views everyone and everything as a potential threat to itself and can only preserve itself with control, power, greed and attack. Ego runs and ruins organizations and sends governments off to commit genocide on those perceived as “them. " All conflict is a battle of egos, and the need to be right. Give up the need to be right and you will have arrived at a state few attain to.
Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now sums it up nicely
"When two or more egos come together , drama of some kind or another ensues. But even if you live totally alone, you still create your own drama. When you feel sorry for yourself, that’s drama. When you feel guilty or anxious , that’s drama. When you let the past or future obscure the present, you are creating …. the stuff of which drama is made. Whenever you are not honoring the present moment by allowing it to be, you are creating drama. "
"Most people are in love with their particular life drama. Their story IS their particular life drama…. When you live with complete acceptance of what is, that is the end of all drama in your life. …. YOU CANNOT HAVE AN ARGUMENT WITH A FULLY CONSCIOUS PERSON. "
The Power of Now
It has been my own experience that some need their drama to define themselves. I remember well one who was railing to me against a minister that had hurt them deeply in life. I was appalled and ashamed at what she said he had said to her. She was in her 80’s and I could not imagine who among my peers in WCG would be so cruel and stupid…well I could actually. . But she needed help with this. After listening for 30 minutes I finally asked who this minister was and when did this happen. She screamed at me…"Rev. Butler and it was August 12th, 1933!" It was 1978 or so when she came to me. Even in the ignorance of my mere 27 years I remember thinking “yikes. " Butler was long dead, yet he lived.
I certainly have played that game and sometimes still do, though less and less. I won’t let the past define me or others define me based on their perceptions of who or what I used to be. Perhaps not letting them is too optimistic. I should say, I accept it as something they need to do but not something I need to buy into and take personally. Every honest human being knows themselves better than any other can possibly imagine and get it more correct than others can with fleeting judgments or invoking their own accumulated pain to define others.
It is drama that freezes one in place spinning hurts and pain of the past in ways that merely lead to more spinning and pain in the present. The spinning and pain accumulate like so much stuff in the attic. It is the energy behind lives. It takes time and energy in the present to keep that of the past going. It is the false belief that if we don’t keep the past in mind and alive, something will be left undone or someone unpunished. It is what the ego needs for identity.
I remember a first time visit to specific church member mobile home where I found my mind going blank. It seems these people could not physically throw out anything including the garbage and so we sat at a small table with white garbage bags filled and piled from floor to ceiling, front to back, side to side. What did not fit in the home was under the home outside and packed all around this place where these two people lived. It was an amazing experience and in hindsight, a reflection of the baggage this man had crowding his mind. His home was a stark reflection of his inability to let go. His past garbage was his current décor. Of course he was mentally ill, but I would not have known then how to define it or perhaps recognize this outward manifestation of how the man thought. I might have shook my head then but now I see how we all have the potential to lose site of the life garbage and pain body we have stacked so neatly where we now are endeavoring to live. This man had literally tuned out what he was doing and it all seemed quite normal to him now. There was no sane reason for this man to do this physically, and there is no sane reason for anyone to do this emotionally. You’ll get sick or at best not have much room to maneuver.
This is not to say there is not a processing time of months or even some years of events past, but I am not speaking of that. Even an animal has to flap and shake itself off after a painful or tense situation to drain off the excess energy raised in the fray. But it is relatively short lived and animals have the wonderful ability to bring themselves back into the present.
I am speaking of creating an identity for oneself based on past pain. Take away the drama and the ego would not know exactly who it is anymore. It would have to get out of the past, which contains all the stories and drama that dictate the present , or resist projecting themselves into the future where fears can be imagined and cultivated, to be present and at peace. But then again, the ego lives in the pain of the past to define itself. The ego, the false self does everything it can to avoid the present, which is the only real thing any of us have to work with. We all know of people who left without their pain, illnesses, negativity, complaints and woe would probably have to go out and find a new batch or risk having to be likeable…and present.
Simply put, the sum total of all painful experiences, if cultivated and held on to into the present can ruin you. The mind and body were never meant to store psychological time, that is the sum total of painful experiences kept alive by the unconscious, running mind in the present. There is a vast difference between one’s life and one’s life situation.
"I have lived with several Zen Masters…. . all of them cats. "
A “good" experience, on the other hand. , can keep one way too comfortable, aloof and unreal. Sometimes we say “I feel so dis-illusioned. " What’s wrong with that? Sure, it’s painful but who wants to be illusioned? We should thank someone when our illusions are exposed. Easy to say, I know. I’m still trying to get over some of the illusions I had about the Bible itself and the implications of such illusions. Illusions are false beliefs about ideas and ways to be. Delusional is when one has false beliefs about themselves which do not stand up to reality.
"Don’t be so negative"
Hot button words those! Usually we say this when someone has pretty much pushed our last button or we are sending out a warning that we have had enough. It’s a way of saying that someone is bleeding their pessimism, anger or past pain all over and it needs to stop. It is a way to say “you are ruining my day, my moment and my desire to be around you much longer. " It’s another way of dividing people up into types. It’s also a way to live one’s entire life.
"All inner resistance is experienced as negativity in one form or another.
All negativity is resistance. In this context, the two words are almost synonymous. Negativity ranges from irritation or impatience, to fierce anger, from a depressed mood or sullen resentment to suicidal despair. Sometimes the resistance triggers the emotional pain-body, in which case even a minor situation may produce intense negativity, such as anger, depression or deep grief. The ego believes that through negativity it can manipulate reality and get what it wants.
Once you have identified with some form of negativity, YOU DO NOT WANT TO LET IT GO and on some deep level, you do not want positive change. It would threaten your identity as a depressed, angry or hard-done- by person. You will then ignore, deny or sabotage the positive in your life. This is a common phenomenon. IT IS ALSO INSANE. "
The Power of Now
Tolle goes on to notice that most neurotic behavior seen in animals seems to afflict only those animals that live in close contact with humans and so link into the human mind and this insanity. Be careful who you hang with!
The simple fact is and if you are screaming “simple my ass!", that’s the ego making every effort to defend and preserve itself. Acceptance of what is provides the way out of pain. All resistance is some kind of non acceptance and that is a bottom line reality in how life really works. Is it easy? Yes…. just accept what is. Stay present and not needing the pain of the past to define you or the fear of the future to justify you. Or No…it is not easy and it won’t be if one is left with only the false ego self running the show. The ego knows only one tune…"I will survive" even if you don’t.
We have ALL had quite an experience with religion and religious types whether sincere or supremely manipulative. All churches contain all types, from Pastors to members, from founders to administrators. If you know where to look, you’ll find both Old and New Testament accounts full of drama queens, liars and my-way-or-the-highway leadership. Even as a kid I wondered why the personalities of the Bible were so full of bluster and threats. Why were individual lives so cheap and power over others so evident. Even God, by his own admission was jealous, angry and insecure to the point of needing absolute control over people and worship. Come on, only human ego could get a rip out of twenty four of your best friends singing “Holy, Holy, Holy" to you day and night forever! And then not for very long I would suspect before we had to at least change the tune. Ego is also easily bored. Needing to be worshipped makes me nervous.
The Power of Now IS the peace that passes all understanding. Ego will argue this to it’s last breath because ego can’t live in the present. That’s too real and genuine. It has to derive it’s power from the painful past or the fearful future. The Lion lying down with the Lamb is another way of saying there is another reality here that can work.
Being enlightened or being conscious and present, is not some new age doubletalk. Jesus was enlightened by any standard. It simply means to be to be made lighter. At risk of angering the ego, lighten up. When you understand the terms, a mind , or that spinning thought factory for pain, anger and resentment is a terrible thing. . . waste it. If it is filled with negativity and drama. . . waste it. Get out of the unchangeable past and the unknowable future. Buddhism says that sometimes there is nothing left in life to do but have a good laugh. If you just said in your mind “that’s stupid" , it was your ego defending and wanting to justify itself.
"Surrender is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life. The only place where you can experience the flow of life is the Now, so to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation…. . It is to relinquish inner resistance to what is…It is precisely at those times that surrender needs to be practiced if you want to eliminate pain and sorrow from your life. Acceptance of what is immediately frees you from mind identification and thus reconnects you with Being. Resistance is the mind…. Surrender is the most important thing you can do to bring out positive change. Any action you take is secondary. No truly positive action can arrive out of an un-surrendered state of consciousness. "
The Power of Now.
Surrender, acceptance and staying present are the keys to good mental and spritual well being.