There are periods in my life when I just know I need to shift to a new way of seeing things because the old one is just too painful and I have a feeling that the new one will free me. Recently I went through such a period, which I call the period of the Three Insights.
Each insight was a small turning point, and the three together took me through to a new beginning.
The first insight that came to me was this: When I have both feet in this dimension, in other words, in the dimension of conventional reality, I am unhappy. When I have one foot here and one foot somewhere else, i.e. in the dimension of heart, soul, or spirit, I seesaw back and forth. But when I have two feet in the other dimension, I am happy. Then I can enjoy everything in life because I am not seeking my deepest satisfaction there.
What does this mean? It means that for me, and I can’t speak for anyone else, if I try to find my contentment by having or experiencing or achieving things in this world, it doesn’t work except momentarily. Something new that I get or achieve thrills me, and then I fall back into a feeling of emptiness. But as I seem to believe that other people are happy with what they have, either though I know deep down inside that it may not be true, I look at them enviously and think, “Maybe if I had that (the partner, the achievement, the gardening, the social life, or whatever), then I would be okay.” If I do get that thing, the same thing happens.
This can be the cause of sleepless nights as I wake up unhappy and then think that it must be because I’ve done something wrong, and if I had got it right, then it would be okay.
But when I allow myself to recognise that my true contentment comes from grounding myself in the dimension of spirit, things change. Then I find that the only peace that is lasting is what I think of as “the peace beyond all understanding”, which means the peace that has nothing to do with the temporary content of my life, but is what I come back to each time I’ve felt bad, gone through some process or other, and come home to myself.
When I say “I allow myself” I mean that some bit of me thinks that this must be sour grapes because if I only I had that or had done this I wouldn’t be thinking this way.
But it’s not true. As I look back, I realise that moments when I got everything I’d ever wanted were sometimes when I was most depressed. And times that I felt present to myself, even when life was a bit awful, I felt deeply peaceful.
So here I am. I am forced to admit that everything I have done in life neither makes me happy nor makes me unhappy. And everything I think that other people have that seems to make them happy might not be the thing for me and even if it were, I don’t have to have it. And the bonus is that no matter what I do or get or achieve, I still have a right to be happy.
And given that, I get the greatest pleasure from the smallest things. I don’t need to expect them to make me happy. So they do.
Perhaps it’s less like happiness and more like joy. Joy is really the gift of the soul.
And every morning, as part of my meditation, I look forward to the day, grateful that I have a day, to be alive, to be present, to meet life, to laugh. And I say thank you for that day, whatever it brings.
What a relief!