In the shadow of happiness
the Dalai Lama says that happiness is the highest form of health.
is this true, or is it a contemporary dream?
The Buddha is also reputed to have said, “There is no way to happiness, happiness is the way”
what does happiness mean?
The last few Blogs in the Happiness series we looked at the negativity bias, positivity, discipline, brain entrainment and meta-learning and the deconstruction of the the self into selfing as a way of resolving selfishness and its consequence, suffering, dissatisfaction and unhappiness.
I talked about spiritual ego and what a trap it is.. simply because to create a super shiny spiritual ego you have to make it a superior ego, one that is right and preferably one that feels inviolate and indestructible. Such a self-construction is difficult to resolve. With such a monstrous creation it usually takes a lot of life-kicks to break the shells of such an ego, as Kahlil Gibran calls it in The Prophet.
“Pain is the breaking of the shells of the ego”
in Engaged Yoga the plan is to spot the developmental pitfalls
spot them and avoid them as much as possible. Spot them through through intelligent awareness rather than hurtle headlong into them and then try to apply medicine to sort out the monstrous mess. Prevention is better than cure. Arguably better be a monster of love than a monstrous ego!
what are some of these traps in ‘spiritual’ development?
the self-development trap…
I talked about this last Blog..it’s where we believe
- If I can just work out all my neurotic edges and become a superior person then maybe…
- If I can become a sleuth of psycho-pathology and spot mine and everyone else issues than maybe I can be safe and in control…
- If I do, say, be, think, feel all the right things and then maybe…
Ultimately dissolving the self is the way forward when we finally exhaust self-development.
the Embodiment trap…
Whilst full embodiment is a powerful and necessary aspect of awakening it is not awakening. Embodiment is a means to know the non-dual reality of consciousness as the flesh and the flesh as not separate from the earth. The body also has to be known as not your core-identity. To use embodiment as if it were somehow the peak human event is to miss the point of embodiment.
the Energy body trap…
Making the bio-electro-magnetic-body the ‘energy’ body the peak of our identity is a mistake. To solidify chakras and energy lines as if they were the most important and deepest part of us is to miss the point. Whilst in non-dual awakening we know we are everything, until that point we have to track our deepest core-identity. In this process we get to understand the energy body and finally see it as simply a more subtle version of who we aren’t! When we make our energy body inherently ‘real’ we trip ourselves at this level of development.
the Spiritual trap…
This is the creation of a shiny spiritual ‘self’ that is just a glorified ego as described above.
the Awakening trap…
Trying to awaken.. keeps you asleep. Trying is the egoic activity of seeking to get beyond the ego, a bit of a no brainer.
Effort in practice is simply a relentless invitation for grace. Keeping the channels clear and strong and relaxing the mind from creating more meanings and special spiritual narrative is simply an invitation for grace. Effort wont wake you up, grace will. Grace can be understood as simply the cosmos doing its thing, beyond your understanding.
the Happiness trap…
Happiness is not a thing, it cant be found or bought or made to happen. Real happiness is not a temporary state experienced only when all the contextual conditions are right, when we have the big house, the new car, the beautiful sexy partner, the good job…
Real happiness, or as I prefer to call it resilient-joy is non-contextual.
Grace pushes us into a place in ourselves where we see the stories of our mind for what they are, beautiful, personally meaningful and utterly bereft of deeper truth.
The only response to this paradox is laughter and tears, compassion for one’s own existence and thus for others. We can’t chase happiness, or resilient-joy, it’s what happens when grace wakes us up.
Meditation and mindfulness also have shadows when taught alone. Both practices offer fantastic stress relief, yet this is temporary. Rack up the context, increase the stressors and away we go again, spiralling down into the full road crash of STRESS.
Why? Because stress is a result of the experience of being a separate thing. As long as this illusion lives in us we will experience stress.
the trap of method…
Meditation and mindfulness are simply vehicles, methods that lead us towards the arising of grace that finally resolves the illusion of separateness. This waking up is the natural drive in all of us, the drive to actualisation as Fritz Perls and Abraham Maslow called it. In Yogic terms this drive is Dharma.
People have and can suffer severe states of over somatic sensitisation and hypochondriasis that can go with practices such as meditation and body scanning practices. People can suffer from difficulty dealing with powerful flows of emotion and highly sexualised thought when the super ego or conditioned controlling functions of the persons psychology are down regulated through meditation or energy practices..
These issues were probably always present in the persons psyche, masked by conditioning and control. They are still complicated for people to work with and when they arise people can get stuck in these states for long periods of time. The reason these arise is because they are underlying energies in the mind being uncovered through practice. Can this be avoided? Maybe not, but they can be reduced in complexity and duration.
This is a really important point about methods such as meditation and mindfulness which were taught along with embodiment practices, and held in an overarching contextual vision of what the self-construct is and the process of awakening out of this is like.
Practices such as meditation and mindfulness were held in the container of a path to achieve this awakening along with knowledge of the stages that occur in this process. Mindfulness and meditation are tools, misunderstood and misused, they can become problematic. With the broader spread into contemporary culture of these practices, the context and container probably also needs to be spread and communicated effectively, even if this is a secular orientation such as the one I am offering in Engaged Yoga.
- This context is the resolution of the self-construct and the realisation of inseparability in both systemic and integral ways, more on this another time.
- The container is the strong and open body-mind and energy field.
- On the path, understanding the vision of realised inseparability, living this vision through the behaviours of love and real wisdom and spreading the work of this freedom of service to the greater good is the evolutionary way.
When 1 to 2 billion brains working with states of presence, practising gratitude, contentment, fullness, joy, peace and gamma wave entrainment through the whole body-mind we will create the tipping point.
The tipping point is the leverage of action that will lift humanity out of this desperate crisis of primitive social constructions, negativity, dissatisfaction and eco-destructive consumerism. Consumerism and its peddlers have no power in the face of upward of 2 billion people being awake and practising mutual respect, contentment and resilient-joy.
Finally, through taking the great freedom that we have, of training our intention and attention, we could finally lift ourselves out of the barbaric states of grasping, greed, negativity bias and tribal warfare that are still so prevalent on planet Earth.
When one being is bound then all beings are bound. Happiness is not a solo sport, it’s a relational and community dance, it’s what we do together.
There is much more on this in my book Engaged Yoga – yoga woven into daily life which you can access here, one click away.
So is happiness the highest form of human health? Health is clearly just the slowest way to die. Happiness rather than an outcome of something to attain and hold onto is better understood as a natural arising of non-contextual and resilient joy
Let us see where the full catastrophe of life takes us all.
My books on contemporary yoga-tantra psychology, desire, engagement and more are all here for you..