Getting Real 10
Will I ever be happy?
is favourite question and is almost invariably put without much optimism
and with an air of resentment or self-pity, implying what has happened to
my handout? What has gone wrong in my case? It implies that happiness like
oxygen is on supply by courtesy of nature and that unhappiness is a
failure of the system rather than a product of the way we view life.
of the major causes of misery is the expectation of happiness. This is not
intended as an epigrammatic quip. It is a fact. In the West, where we have
now a considerable amount of padding between us and the bare essentials of
existence, the focus of endeavor has become our emotional well-being and
‘happiness’ the benchmark of attainment.
what is this happiness? The dictionary in my computer says it is the noun
derived from happy which means lucky or fortunate. The dictionary on my
bookshelf, a quintessentially British publication, makes it the noun from
feeling, showing or expressing joy.
the dictionary definitions, I know when my clients ask the question
‘Will I ever be happy?’ that what they mean is will there ever be an
end to their suffering. Happiness has become the antonym of emotional
pain; it means things coming right in the end.
and large, we are lacking in objectivity when it comes to our own
emotional states. We can accept the idea that organisation and application
produces results on the material plane but have not that same expectation
of mastery on the emotional level. And this is where we make things
difficult for ourselves because this is exactly what is needed, not to end
suffering but to end the control by and perpetuation of unnecessary
distinction is important: our emotional natures are reactive and our
emotional reactions are quicker than our thought processes. They are
designed to be: they have a job to do. They are agents in the process of
learning atonement and breaking down separation. They are agents of soul
consciousness. If physical pain gives warning of abnormal physical
conditions, then emotional pain gives warning of aberrant emotional
conditions. Could we, as individuals, afford not to hurt when we witness
or experience cruelty or see other suffering? Could humanity as a whole
afford not to? Where would be the incentive to progress? This pain is
designed to alert us to the existence of the ‘heresy of separation’.
All emotional pain, whether it is the suffering of non-requited love or
the pain of bereavement arises from some manifestation of this heresy
against the soul, which denies the connectedness of all things. Our
suffering alerts us to this and motivates us to bring about change. We
must conclude that humanity will continue to suffer until there is no more
separation in its consciousness.
expect too much - or is it too little? - Of ourselves when we aspire to
stop our emotional natures registering pain. What we have control over is unnecessary
suffering, i.e., suffering over things that do not matter to the real
person: that part of us which exists under the conditioning, the suffering
which is prolonged as a result of getting caught up in patterns, and the
suffering which results from a perceived inability to move situations on.
We achieve this control by applying the mind as we would if the task in
hand were the achieving any other kind of goal, with the aim of reducing
the amount of time and energy made available to and consumed by emotional
reactions. Where there is resistance to this idea - and there frequently
is - it is usually because we are so deadly serious about our emotional
reactions and treat them with a reverence which makes the thought of any
kind of intervention improper, and because our Western our emotional
reactions and our desire natures are over-stimulated, manipulated and
non-authentic, likewise our desire natures, we suffer like hell over
something for which we have no need or use but which has entered our
pantheon of expectation.
in the advertising industry are being paid huge salaries to ensure that
this remains the case. It is a fact of life in a consumer society and it
is a waste of time and energy denouncing it unless one is going to take
stand against it in one’s own life. Any one who wants to get free from
unnecessary suffering, however, has got to be prepared to re-appraise his
value system with the aim of eliminating those things which can be called
non-authentic: the standards and the expectations which are
‘imported’, which do not reflect his own personality but are the
product of conditioning. This is a basic responsibility we have to take
for ourselves if we wish to reduce unnecessary suffering.
import not only desires, but tastes, attitudes, moralities and
expectations which may be entirely contrary to our true natures and yet we
still hold out the hope that they will bring happiness because they have
been sold to us for that purpose and we are, more often than not, more in
touch with the ideas circulated by the media than we are with our true
our suffering is giving definition to that true self, just as the black
area on a photographic negative defines the object.
unnecessary suffering will be ended in the immediate term by ‘letting
go’ rather than ‘taking on’. Grafting a set of ideals and goals onto
an unreconstituted emotional base and/or an unrevised value system is
unlikely to have any lasting effect and this has been the flaw in so many
of the recent self-help methods based on positive thinking. They have
overlooked the extent of the investment in the old way of being. There may
have been suffering, dreadful suffering, but as long as there is the hope
that there may still be diamonds to be found amongst the rust, the old way
of being will be kept on standby. We are very afraid of giving things up,
afraid that we might give something away and then find it was about to
deliver, afraid that without this focus in our lives we will lose part of
ourselves and the thing which although it has caused suffering, has given
us an identity and our lives purpose and drama. This is particularly
evident in destructive relationships and in cases of where an addiction is
the principal cause of suffering.
this reason, the kind of suffering that brings us to our knees has such
value. This can be one of the roles of illness. When suffering brings us
to our knees we are more ready to accept the existence of the aberration,
more ready to accept that we may have to let go of what hitherto we have
refused to acknowledge as the cause of suffering and more ready to give up
on the hope that we can make two and two equal five. Then, a new approach,
a new way of thinking may well be able to give a structure, energy and
inspiration to the process of change. Until then, we may not be able to
afford to be without our suffering.
the past fifteen or so years, there has been every encouragement given to
evading the fact that in order to end unnecessary suffering we have to be
prepared to look honestly at ourselves and get rid of our negative
the adverts persuading people to buy relatively inexpensive stones and
aromatherapy oils to promote certain states of mind, to those inviting
investments of thousands of pounds in expensive courses designed to
promote a positive attitude to life, the encouragement and the products
have been there. The problem of these things is not one of validity, but
of proportion. How much can these things be expected to achieve in our
lives if we continue to behave opportunistically and consider that it is
fair game to steal and cheat whether that is in matters or of money or
love, or if our yearning for something is so strong that, in our heart of
hearts, we view learning to cope with out it as second best? Spirituality
may be being offered as a consumer product, but there is a limit upon what
‘buying in’ can achieve unless it is to encourage effort, which is
rooted in a sense of purpose.
have to start with what we have and we have to be prepared to let go of
what our own suffering is telling us is the problem. This requires
developing the habits of self-honesty and of learning to call things by
their correct name. So much suffering is prolonged because we hide our
true motives from ourselves by the way we explain things to ourselves and
to others. We mask confusion or fear of the consequences of taking action
behind a show of principle or high-mindedness. It is love, we say by way
of justifying inertia, it is worth the sacrifice! Is it?
and large we are not sufficiently in touch with our own motives and our
own limitations when it comes to sacrifice and giving unconditionally.
There is far more merit in honestly stating that one cannot do something
than in going through the pretence of giving but with an ulterior motive
or giving what one does not have to give. In the longer term, honesty is
likely to involve less suffering for all concerned.
go or giving up on a situation may produce its own kind of suffering but
that does not invalidate it as a course of action. When one is painted
into a corner, strategy and maneuvering may be required to get out. For
example, the choice of profession could be the source of considerable
discomfort but the parental disappointment, which might result from giving
it up, may also be a source of acute emotional discomfort. A marriage may
be the source of great unhappiness to one of the partners but so too is
the prospect of breaking up the home and disturbing the children.
are the dilemmas which people are facing every day and they are a source
of huge suffering. In the final analysis, each of us has only so much
time, so many opportunities and so much energy and two and two never will
make five. When confronting a dilemma we have to make a decision about how
best we stand to redeem what remains of our lives and this includes the
potential remaining in those lives, and to trust that whatever hurt and
damage we might cause by taking one course of action, we stand to be able
to make a repayment. That repayment may not be to the people we have hurt
but to other people whose lives we may touch if we are more positive about
our own lives. The chances are there will be more merit in this than in
remaining in a stagnant situation generating negativity and losing
interest in life. This is not at all the same thing as doing what one
pleases. This is to accept a responsibility for self and for others, for
the quality of life, and to make a conscious decision.
with dilemmas in which there is a promise of pain in all the available
options, it is not difficult to understand why a person so placed might
wish for happiness, for two and two to make five, and for a new year, a
new decade, a new century or a new millennium to bring about great and
miraculous changes. With these kinds of irrational expectations we set
ourselves up to fail and to suffer still more. What can a new millennium
do to help us if we cannot help ourselves?
there is to be less unnecessary suffering, both individually and
collectively, we have to work purposefully and intelligently towards that
end. Purposefulness brings its own kind of courage and its own kind of