Chasing your tail

“All you want is to be happy. All your desires, whatever they may be, are longing for happiness. Basically, you wish yourself well…desire by itself is not wrong. It is life itself, the urge to grow in knowledge and experience. It is [the] choices you make that are wrong. To imagine that some little thing — food, sex, power, fame — will make you happy is to deceive oneself. Only something as vast and deep as your real self can make you truly and lastingly happy.” ― Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

Are you tired?

I don’t mean in the physical sense — it’s not always a bad thing — but psychologically?

The reason?

You’re constantly seeking happiness in, through and across the material and/or experiential plane. You find it occasionally but it never lasts. It’s like will-o’-the-wisp.

I’ll give you some examples from my past where I’ve tried to find happiness:

the unconditional love of my parents
passing exams
getting rid of my anger
finding a career
fulfilling my potential
finding love
making friends
building a business
making partner in a law firm
pleasing my family
not falling out with my family
being a good dad
not upsetting my wife
earning enough money.

Can you relate to these?

As a reflection point, you might like to write down the things you’ve sought or sought to avoid over the course of your life.

Why have you pursued or undertaken them and not something else?

Or better still, who, if anything, has willed you to pursue them?

(The key question is to ask yourself is if you have free will and choice.)

Even if you’re struggling to relate to what I’m saying, if I ask you to consider the apogee of your life, I can almost guarantee the answer:


But we’re rarely happy. There’s always something that gets in the way.

(Psst: it’s you…that gets in the way of finding happiness.)

And, societally, it’s getting worse, despite the fact that we’re richer now than at any time in history.

As I’ve said many times before, we’re an ‘out there’ society. What I mean is that we think, mistakenly, if we pursue and obtain pleasure(s) or material success and/or avoid pain that we’ll make ourselves happy.

Arguably we might if it were not for the thinking self.

For most people, and I don’t say this to be flippant, they might test the personal development water — e.g. Think and Grow Rich — but they quickly discover that no amount of willpower resolves their situation. They might then look at some form of therepay; and if that doesn’t work they seek out a guru or spiritual teacher. Trouble is, if they’re not careful, they substitute one change-of-behaviour paradigm for another. I don’t mean to ridicule, say, mindfulness or spiritual attachment, but it’s easy to let enlightenment become another thing in a world of things.

On the other hand, if you go to your direct experience, what you know instinctively is that there is a knowing-awareness of your thoughts, feelings, sensations and experiences. It permeates and is everything. To say it’s infinite is contradictory because there would have to be limit for something to be unlimited. I prefer to say it just is; namely, everything that arises.

But knowing this I-am awareness isn’t much help when you’re in the thick fog of emotion — e.g. anger, despair or even an artificial high.

Actually, that’s not true. My experience (and I mean this more a verb, not a noun) is that in the place of knowing-awareness there is no need to do anything, to go anywhere or even to argue with our thoughts. If we can see that then the knowing-awareness slowly permeates our field of awareness, generally making life a lot easier.

I know this language often impenetrable and that’s why the process of self-enquiry that I’m talking about needs to be experienced and not just read about. But here again, there’s nothing to do but instead to direct your attention to your individual experience.

As a reflection point, for one second sit with your thoughts and ask yourself what is it or who is it that’s aware of your thoughts.

If you’re willing to do that then you may discover that rather than talking about your thoughts as something concrete and determinative of your life, you’ll hopefully understand that they are a figment of your imagination. The only thing, and I mean the only thing that you are aware of is self-knowing awareness.

“Listen Sariputra,
this Body itself is Emptiness
and Emptiness itself is this Body.
This Body is not other than Emptiness
and Emptiness is not other than this Body.
The same is true of Feelings,
Perceptions, Mental Formations,
and Consciousness.” — The Heart Sutra

In resting in that place I hope that you’ll begin to realise the pointlessness of chasing another faux, imagined dream of self-realisation.

Why would you need to do that when, as I’ve said many times, you are the very thing (knowing-awareness) that you seek.

Have a wonderful Sunday.



If you’re interested, I record a daily micro.podcast and a longer monologue where I explore in greater detail some of the issues in this post.

If you’d like to know more about my work and how I can help, please feel free to check out the archive and my services page. At the moment, I’m able to take on a few more coaching clients, and if you’re interested all you need do is email me or telephone using the details on my contact page.

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