The deception of happiness

When you ask someone what they want in life, they default, always, to the ‘H’ word.

“I just want to be HAPPY.”

And I get that.

First, though, you need to define happiness.

Do you mean a life devoid of difficulty? Or one where everything is taken care of? Or where you get everything you want?

After that, you might inquire about who is it that desires happiness.

And I don’t mean to suggest you lead with your name, but your foundational personhood — i.e. who are you at the deepest level?

“Well, I’m just me.”

But what is ‘me’?

Your thinking?

“Cogito, ergo sum” — I am what I think — Descartes

Or your seeing, sensing, touching, smelling, hearing and awarenessing?

The truth is that happiness or your current version = control.

Control of what?

Your external circumstances?
Your mood?
Your feelings?
Your relationships?
Your work?
Your money?

Good luck…

Fundamentally, how can you control something that’s not under your control? (Again, this raises the question: Who are you?)

Not that I’ve anything to offer in these blogs, but if happiness is your driver, you may want to look again at your actual experience before you become too ensconced with the regnant label.

Idea #1 – everything changes

Everything is a moving shifting experience, including or more especially your thoughts, feelings, seeing, sensing, hearing and witnessing. Even something as apparently fixed as a mountain will, in time, move on to something else.

But of course, even this idea lacks clarity. If something is in a constant state of flux, it can not, therefore, be fixed — despite what our mind might otherwise tell us.

All you can you say is that there’s a moving, shifting, energetic experience.

“The appearance of form is not the reality. The altering is. That’s the basic fact. There is no coming or going, no birth or death, no decisions being made, no matter how much it seems like that. There is only motion. Anyone can see that if they watch it long enough.” — Darryl Bailey, Dismantling the Fantasy

“Emptiness is form
Form is emptiness.” — The Heart Sutra

Idea #2 – labels are not the form

Imagine yourself as a newborn baby, being presented to the world and asked to describe what you see and/or experience.

It’s impossible to know, but I’d wager that for the baby there’s just this moment, this experience. There would be no labels, no this or that, no way of describing things.

Of course, this quickly changes (through being told, of course) and we come to label everything.

But who says ‘X’ [a chair] is ‘X’ [a chair]? And, certainly, if you live somewhere where English is not your first language, it will be called something different.

The point is, in our dualistic minds, we like to concretize. We like to label everything but that doesn’t make it anymore real, particularly when, as principle number #1 says, everything is unformed — i.e. it’s always moving on to something else.

And, yes, I accept day-to-day neither principle seems apposite to the pursuit of happiness. It’s all too spiritual.

But then again, is it?

Is it too spiritual to call into question that the thing or experience you seek is no more than a faux construct?

Perhaps, instead, ask this question:

what is there when there is no thinking?

Surely, there’s only this moment — a moving, shifting, dancing, energetic experience.

Of course, at the end the end of the day, I, like you, know nothing more than my experience. And that tells me: (a) it’s impossible to control my thoughts, feelings and sensations; (b) I’m not my thoughts; and (c) when I argue with the reality of principles #1 and #2, I lose every single time.

Now, it’s your call.

Will you carry on chasing the elixir of happiness or take time to consider what’s really going on?

Take care.


Photo by Jurica Koletić on Unsplash