The primary reason people are not as happy or fulfilled as they desire to be is that they do not know exactly what they want. Sometimes, even when they think they know what they want, they fool themselves because the object is desired for the wrong reasons. If this is “the first day of the rest of your life,” ask yourself exactly what you want to do with it. Your subconscious mind can then assist you in manifesting your desires.
Everyone wants happiness, but what that usually mean is that they want to end the unhappiness or conflict in their lives. That is certainly within their power, too, if they have clarity and are willing to act. But it’s not the same thing. True happiness is found internally, not externally. It is generated by a healthy attitude toward what happens in your life, by pursuing meaningful goals and by believing in yourself.
It is my belief that you must have goals or a strong general direction in order to take control of your life. When you don’t plan a life direction, you are making a choice, but inaction is no choice! Your subconscious mind generates the events in your life. If your thinking has been negative, you can be assured of moving toward potentially negative events. Thoughts are things—they create circumstances by programming your subconscious mind.
If you don’t have goals or lack clarity of intent, start exploring what you would really love to do—something so enjoyable that you’d be playing rather than working. Don’t even be logical in your search. When you become clear about what you want, everything will fall into place. Once you have pledged this direction, things begin to happen almost magically, as if you were a magnet drawing into your experience whatever is necessary for manifestation. The key to success is to have great emotional desire and no indecisiveness at all. The greater your emotional desire, the more energy you will generate to fulfill the goal.
You may want to meditate upon the clarity of your intent regarding your primary relationship, friends and family, career and level of success, spirituality, civic service, and any other area that is Important to you.
Peace and light,
"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain, and most fools do." - Benjamin Franklin
My wife’s guide has said to her many times over the years, “Try never to let others change who you are.” Like many of us working to become self-actualized, Roberta does her best to be calm and not to over-react. We are living in some very polarized times and we are both working at not responding to what is happening on the political front. It’s difficult not to become upset, but just as Roberta’s guide points out, if you don’t believe you are an angry, hateful person, then don’t become one to defend your position. It’s not worth it. You don’t want to become what you revile.
Holding a copy of my book, “The Oracle Within,” Roberta reminded me of my own words regarding what she is experiencing.
The Oracle Within
THE LAW OF RESISTANCE
What you resist you draw to yourself. As long as you resist something, you are locked into combating it and merely perpetuate its influence in your life. Resistance is fear, something you need to karmically resolve. You must let go of the fear by encountering it until you learn to consciously detach from what you view to be negative.
You must learn to yield to an oncoming force in such a way as to render it harmless and, at the same time, change its direction by pushing it from behind instead of resisting it from the front. A Master of Life doesn’t oppose things, nor does he attempt to change circumstances by asserting himself against them. Instead, he goes with the flow, yielding to its full force and either pushing it slightly out of direct line or moving it around in the opposite direction without ever encountering its direct opposition. This is the principle of controlling life by going along with it.
You need to understand that what you deny to others will be denied to you. What you deeply believe defines your experience. What you feel strongly about and what you say creates your reality. For example, if you resent wealthy people, you’ll never be wealthy. If you are irritated by other people’s success, you will be denied success. If you’re jealous of someone else’s loving relationship, you will be denied an ideal relationship.
Negative emotions work against you because you can’t attain that which you resent. Your negative attitudes program a cause and effect response in your subconscious mind—karma. The purpose of karma is to teach and in this case, to instruct you by denying you what you would deny others. Karma is trying to show you your attitudes are based upon emotions you need to transcend.
"Open your arms to change, but don't let go of your values." - Dali Lama
You live in a world of your own creation.
Your life continues as it has been, not because that’s the way your life is meant to be, but because you continue to make the SAME CHOICES.
Insanity has been defined as doing the same thing over and over the same way, but expecting a different result.
Choose to do things differently. Choose to change.
For starters, what about beginning to get out of old ruts by changing some of your routines? Little routines, big routines -- find new ways to do things. Scheduling routines, driving routines, dressing routines, sexual routines. ROUTINES ARE ANTI-LIFE!
Little changes in routine can lead to larger changes in relationships, lifestyle, career and the way you do business. We fear change because we cannot know how it will influence the future. It’s safer to maintain the status quo. But is it?
There are times when real change is necessary, IF YOU WANT TO AVOID STAGNATION AND DEGENERATION. When faced with such a time, The “I Ching” advises you approach change gradually, improving the situation a little at time so you can judge the results as you proceed. It warns of being hasty and behaving excessively, thus assuring a “careful calculated transformation.”
In addition, the I-Ching advises that you establish clarity of intent, remove discordant elements as they appear, and throw out what is “outmoded or stifling.”
The I Ching is one of the oldest books on the planet. And although I regularly consult it for guidance, I don’t agree that all change should be gradual. Sometimes change is most effectively implemented with bold action. In any given situation there is always one move that will produce substantial results.
The other side of the coin: A more enlightened Zen view says, we can choose to be happy, whatever the circumstances in our life. By attaining “detached mind” we can rise above negativity or the need to make things different than they are. “Don’t waste your time trying to change anything,” say the unnamed authors of “The Key,” published by the Center for the Practice of Zen Buddhist Meditation in Mountain View, CA.
“If you think you can feel better by doing something else, or being something else, or being somewhere else, then feel better. Don’t be confused by thinking you need to do something else, or be something else, or be somewhere else. JUST BE CONTENT TO FEEL BETTER. (It can save a great deal of time, energy and money.)”
A famous Zen story is about a man being chased by a tiger. To avoid being eaten alive, the man leaped off a cliff and grabbed a vine where he hung precariously. As the tiger swiped at him from above, he looked down and saw another tiger far below waiting for him to fall. To make matters worse, a mouse began chewing on the vine. At this moment, the man spotted a luscious wild strawberry growing out of the cliff side. So holding the vine with one hand, he picked the strawberry and ate it. “Delicious.”
What happened to the man? Obviously he died a moment later. The Zen point is, the man had a choice of wasting the last moment of his life or appreciating it. He chose to appreciate.
Shouldn’t you live each moment of your life as if it were the last moment? That’s what you’re doing if you manage to live in the ever-present NOW. Every moment is the last moment. There is no other moment than this.
I know, I know, living in the NOW is a lot easier said than done. But we exist NOW and NOW is all that is. NOW is outside of time. There is no past in which you were incomplete and there will never be a future in which you will become complete. Until you accept that you can only exist NOW, you will believe that fulfillment awaits you in an illusory future if you take the proper actions. This belief destroys the experience of NOW and you continually live in illusion.
This very moment is it. Nothing is hidden. All of your calculating and hoping and planning about how it will be someday ... all your dreams and plans ... THIS IS HOW IT ALL TURNED OUT. This is all there is. You’ve been planning all your life for the future, but you will never be aware of the future in the future ... you will only be aware of it in the NOW. We do not exist in time. We exist in self.
A Master of Life uses the time component, but he never accepts it as a reality that entraps him in actions to achieve fulfillment in an illusory future. He is always, at this moment, fulfilled, perfect, at peace and in balance.
I’m certainly not claiming to have accomplished this level of self-actualization, but I’m working on it. When I catch myself worrying about the future, I tell myself, “Be here now.”
Another Zen story helps to make the point a little clearer. A man staying in a small temple got up at 4:30 AM every day to clean the temple, but the monks all remained in bed until 7 AM. He cursed them as he swept, and despised them as he washed the floor. He hoped that the Master would get up and catch them slacking, but it never happened. The Master was in bed himself. The man judged the monks to be indifferent to their duties. He thought of nothing but their idleness and begrudged both his own labor and the monk’s slumber.
Upon hearing of this, the Master asked, “For whose sake do you clean the temple?” Then he answered the question himself. “For your own sake. When you work, work for yourself, not for other people.”
If you want your life to work better, when you work, just work; don’t worry about whether others are working, or whether the temple will be burned down next week or not.
On a personal note, Roberta and I send out thoughts and prayers to all the survivors of Hurricane Harvey. Peace and Light, Dick Sutphen
Here’s a concept to consider:
Everything that surrounds you is an extension of you. Your mate, children, home, furniture, car, pets, yard, office, and career are all physical expressions of your belief system and attitudes. Your environment is a manifestation of your energy and core beliefs, expressing your self-image and cultural overview.
And what mind has created, mind can change.
Change begins with the acceptance of new beliefs. Beliefs generate your thoughts and emotions, which create your experiences. If you aren’t happy with your current life and want to change it, you need to change your core beliefs about allowing yourself to experience what you desire.
Your disharmonious beliefs are like a cage, restricting your potential and your life. But if you want to escape from the cage, you must first recognize that it exists and you’re not free. YOU CANNOT CHANGE WHAT YOU DO NOT RECOGNIZE.
Sadly, most people are unaware they exist in a self-created prison.
What can you learn about yourself by examining your key life areas as an extension of you-- a manifestation of your energy and core beliefs:
Let’s say, as an example, your yard and office are a mess. This may be a manifestation of a lack of control in your life. You would be served by cleaning up these areas as first steps of taking control of your life. Explore how this lack of control is reflected other areas. What do you want? Begin mind programming with techniques that follow in the next example.
If your primary relationship no longer reflects who are, explore your part in creating the way it is. Who have you become? Then consider what you desire to happen--be honest. Once you have clarity of intent, you can begin to program new beliefs in keeping with your desires.
Programming: Behavior wags the tail of feelings, so act in keeping with your desires and new feelings will follow. Visualize what you desire as if it were already so. Create vivid mental movies in which you’re living the life you desire you to live. Leave personalities out of the visualizations. If you visualize your mate doing something you want them to do, but it isn’t in keeping with who they are, you’re using black power and creating karma. Instead, visualize yourself living the life you desire with a loving (faceless) spouse. That way, if it’s your karma to bond with someone new, you’re not programming yourself into a corner.
Also, in meditation or self-hypnosis, give yourself positive suggestions worded as if what you desire were already accomplished. Self-talk--positive affirmations spoken out loud while you’re driving or home alone, is also powerful programming.
Use Dick Sutphen mind programming CDs. (You could have predicted that.)
Do you know someone who thinks they’re always right? No matter the situation, they are the final word? It will help you to understand they were programmed to be exactly the way they are. And you can use the knowledge to your advantage.
Your subconscious mind is a memory bank and operates very much like a computer. It’s programmed for survival and for you to be “right.” Everything you consider saying or doing is quickly run through your data banks, comparing the present to related past experiences. Your computer then approves your actions as compared to the past, for in the past you “survived.”
Computers are logically programmed machines and cannot be wrong. To be wrong is a malfunction. If your subconscious computer allowed you to be wrong, its survival is threatened. So, the only way it can work is to make you feel correct. It does not reason and it does not care if you get what you want out of life. It just needs to be right to protect itself, even if you lose the game.
To rise above this programming, learn to be aware of your programming so you can detach from the buttons that cause you to act like a robot. A robot has no choice in the way it acts. It has wiring and circuits that are set so when a button is pushed, it reacts according to programming. In many areas of your life you’re programmed the same way. When your button is pushed you need to be right. Even if you’re not right, you’ll find some way to justify yourself. Only those with enlightened awareness of how human beings work understand this. Winning the game is far more satisfying than getting to be right.
Years ago I had the following discussion in one of my seminars:
“Can the need to be right come from past-life programming?” asked Anita, a pretty woman in her mid-twenties.
“We are all programmed to need to be right, just as we’re programmed to stand and walk on our feet,” I replied. “But an excessive need to be right might go back to a past-life cause.”
“But what do you do? My fiancé has to be right about everything, all the time. No one else is ever right. It’s enough to drive you nuts.” She rolled her eyes at the ceiling.
“Do you want to remain with him?”
“Of course, I love him.”
“Then you’d better develop an enlightened attitude allowing him to be right while you win the game. You have to learn to override your own ‘rightness’ button. Knowing how he is programmed to function, you can let him be right. Remember, unless you allow him to be right, his survival is threatened and there is going to be trouble. So you can quickly allow him to be right with a phrase such as, ‘I understand how you feel.’ In so doing, you learn to override your own ‘rightness’ button. Knowing how he is programmed to function, you can let him be right. You’re not admitting he is right, you’re just taking him off ‘tilt.’ His survival will no longer be threatened and he can concentrate upon the problem.”
Winning the game is far more satisfying than getting to be right.
Those who have read many of my words know that I often talk about accepting what is. It’s the Zen idea of accepting reality (what is). In so doing, life gets easier. And one more time let me quote Buddha: “It is your resistance to what is (reality) that causes your suffering.”
We resist the way someone else is, and get upset by their actions or inactions, their words or deeds. Just when I think I have learned this lesson, I seem to come face-to-face with a new test, often resulting in some form of suffering. Someday, I am going to “get it.”
If every time you touch a hot stove, you burn your finger, eventually, if you have any intelligence at all, you will learn to stop touching hot stoves. The idea is to learn through love and wisdom, not through pain.
And if the base premise of accepting what is were not difficult enough to deal with, there is a lot more to the concept that I do not normally communicate. Accepting what is, is a matter of living in reality -- not in a world of assumptions, interpretations, judgments or conclusions.
To live in reality allows you to become aware of what you want and don’t want. You would no longer get together with friends out of any feeling of obligation -- only because you would truly enjoy the time shared. You would not allow what someone else thinks to keep you doing what you are drawn to do.
In her book, “If The Buddha Got Stuck,” Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D. says, “When we live in reality we simply hear what people are saying without adding or subtracting any interpretations or meanings. We take note of those nagging feelings that say, ‘don’t do it,’ or the bright feelings that say, ‘why not, it could be a great adventure.’ If someone is harming us, we don’t make up excuses or reasons; we see the harm. Conversely, we also are open to the incredible care, beauty, kindness, and love that is all around us.
“Being in reality helps us make wise decisions about jobs, relationships and lifestyle changes, as well as all the little decisions that pepper our lives. We feel an internal resonator instead of a critic and censor. Rather than being confused by thoughts such as, ‘I don’t deserve something so good,’ or ‘What will my parents think?’ we ask ‘Is this job realistic for me, does it fit with my relationships, my goals, desired lifestyle?’ It feels much simpler.”
Living in reality is also a positive force for loving relationships. Krishnamurti says that when we look at each other without the barriers and screens of our prejudices we come into true communion with each other -- heart, mind, and spirit.
If you want something new to happen in your life, look at life without the filters and accept what really is. Kasl says, “You can ignite the spark of fresh ideas and aliveness within your body when you step out of the shadow of the past. You take off a veil of tired old reactions and patterns and step into the reality of the moment. It might be to see unhappiness; it might be to see a new possibility or realize someone cares about you. It will definitely broaden your view and free you to experience awe and wonder at this incredible universe.”
Good things can have bad outcomes. Bad things can have good outcomes. Rather than panicking or rejoicing, wait and see.
When a man won the lottery, his wife decided her share of the windfall provided the money to leave him and start anew. Although the man was devastated, he ended up finding the love of his life and he and his first wife both had the means to be comfortable and happy.
A corporate officer attained a major promotion and a big raise, but her new responsibilities gave her ulcers and gray hair. She quit and decided money did not bring happiness. She's now a counselor to inner-city youth and feels no regrets.
Twelve years ago, a man contracted a severe form of arthritis. He was in bed for a year, but the disease strengthened his immune system and he recovered. Although he has been HIV-positive for ten years, his strong immune system has protected him from any T-cell decrease or the onset of AIDS. He is alive and loving life.
A woman who had a car accident met her husband while recovering in the hospital.
After spending most of his adult life working as an electronic specialist for a major corporation, a man lost his job when the company closed down. He moved to Prescott, Arizona and started a home-security alarm business. Today he makes a lot more money and prefers his life in the quiet, mountain town.
Don’t try to second-guess the Universe. Things often happen because they are destined to happen--to get us from here to there, so we can resolve our karma and fulfill our dharma--our earthly purpose.
An astrologer recently reviewed my chart, marveled at some of the planetary comings and goings, and said, “You’re being taught to live with uncertainty.”
“That sounds about right,” I said. “But aren’t we all living with uncertainty all the time?”
Pema Chodron is a very wise American Buddhist nun who lives in Nova Scotia. A few years ago I reviewed her book, “Comfortable With Uncertainty.” Here are some words that stood out:
“A warrior accepts that we can never know what will happen to us next. We can try to control the uncontrollable by looking for security and predictability, always hoping to be comfortable and safe. But the truth is that we can never avoid uncertainty. This not-knowing is part of the adventure. It’s also what makes us afraid.”
She completes this short discourse with, “If we find ourselves in doubt that we’re up to being a warrior-in-training, we can contemplate this question: "Do I prefer to grow up and relate to life directly, or do I choose to live and die in fear?’”
Pema speaks of a warrior as a bodhisattva -- not one who kills but a “warrior of nonagression who hears the cries of the world.” The warrior’s sword of wisdom cuts through delusion.
I also looked up Osho’s words on the subject: “Life is basically insecure. That’s its intrinsic quality; it cannot be changed. Death is secure, absolutely secure. The moment you choose security, unknowingly you have chosen death.”
It follows that the moment you choose life, you choose uncertainty.
Continuing on the subject of security, Osho adds, “The moment things are secure you will feel bored because there is no possibility of any exploration.” (“Theologia Mystica”)
So no matter what the planets are up to, life is always moving from the known to the unknown. The crossing point from the known to the unknown is where uncertainty sets in. Looking to the positive, if we choose uncertainty and insecurity, at least we won’t be bored.
Dennis Genpo Merzel tells the story of a man named Mullah Nasrudin who frequently crossed the Turkey to Hungary border with only a donkey and pack on it’s back filled with hay. The guards at the border were sure the man was smuggling something, but they were never able to find a thing. Every time Mullah crossed the border, the guards searched more thoroughly. They sifted through the hay, looked down the donkey’s throat, but never found a thing.
“One day one of the old border guards, who had by now retired, walked into a bar and there was Mullah drinking and having a good time, so he decided to find out the answer to the mystery. He went up to Nasrudin and said, ‘For fifteen years you have had us bewildered. We know you have been smuggling. Now listen, I am no longer on the border patrol. I give you my word of honor that I will not turn you in, but for my peace of mind, you must tell me: what in the world were you smuggling?’ ‘Donkeys!’ Mullah replied.”
So often in life, the truth is the obvious thing, but it is so obvious we can’t see it.
We search for truth in an attempt to understand why we are experiencing emotional pain. We consult psychics and astrologers to learn the truth in the present and to tell us about the future. We want to know why our lovers and mates do what they do and not what we want them to do.
But knowing the truth won’t change a thing. Everything is just what it is. Mountains are mountains and trees are trees. People are who they are and they’re not going to be anything else.
THE TRUTH IS, WE CAN ACCEPT WHAT IS AND RELAX, OR WE CAN FIGHT WHAT IS AND MAKE OURSELVES MISERABLE. Remember, “It is your resistance to what is that causes your suffering.”
Merzel quotes Maezumi Roshi who once said, “I can’t believe all the suffering and frustration people go through only to realize that a table is a table, a chair is a chair.”
Or ... Mark your husband is just Mark and he is what he is ... or Mary your lover is just Mary and she is what she is.
(Dennis Genpo Merzel is the author of “The Eye Never Sleeps” (Shambhala) and a Zen teacher of Rinzai and Soto schools of Japanese Zen Buddhism. The donkey story is from that book.)