We think we’re so important. We’re waiting for the universe and all of its secrets to be revealed to us. We want to know. We want to be sure.
We want to be able to predict when and how and why the good and bad things happen so that we can align ourselves with the good things and avoid the bad things. That’s what we want.
At least that’s what our ego wants. It thinks it wants to know everything. It thinks it wants all happiness and no sadness. But that is like saying we would like all happy songs and no sad ones.
We know that’s not true. In fact, if we got our wish, eventually you’d grow to hate the happy songs. We’d be inclined to violently destroy them as soon as anyone tried to play one. But why? They’re happy songs?
Happy isn’t a thing unto itself. Happy is a judgment about something. So a song can have happy lyrics and a pleasant upbeat —and if we associate with a relationship gone bad, we can still find that ‘happy song’ depressing. You can despise its very happiness.
Most of us should remember this, especially the boys. Most Western teens go through a dark period where they absolutely love songs that are all about death and anger and morbid things.
Ultimately, the ideas of happiness and sadness are like a filter we place over the world. But the world is the world. Everyone gets to place their own unique filter over it.
That filter is what the Buddhists call The Illusion. The point of enlightenment isn’t to make the illusion go away. The point is to see through it; to recognize both its natural existence and its flexibility.
The world will cause existence to be, but we are the ones who are responsible for our reactions to that existence. This is why there are people who seem to have it all going for them and yet they are unhappy, while there are other people living in destitute conditions and yet they are gloriously happy.
Can we see it? There must be some great lesson in that fact. Why are some of the destitute people happy when some of the rich ones aren’t?
It’s not that the sad rich people got the sad songs to sing. No. They got the happy ones. They could afford to be safe and fed and pampered and luxuriated. It’s the poor people that got the sad songs. They got the fear and unfairness and the cruelty.
So why are the poor just as likely to sing joyfully as the rich? Because it’s not the poor or the rich or who are happy or sad. It’s the people that want who are sad, and the people who accept and show gratitude who are rich. Whether they have money or not.
If we want our life and the world to be different than it is then we are doomed to live an emotional roller-coaster of expectation, dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and sadness.
But. If we accept that our life will include some mystery, and some sad songs, then that acceptance will help create a great poignancy in the gap between the sad songs and the happy ones.
By not arguing with that reality –the complete one that needs those sad songs to form our other riverbank– we can instead immerse ourselves in the river of everything. And by swimming in that reality, we realize that we never needed all of our songs to be happy ones. We just needed to be happy there were songs at all.
We don’t need to figure a bunch of things out. Not how to be enlightened, nor happy. Instead, we just need to listen carefully to the world. It’s singing to us every day. All we need to be is quiet enough to hear it so that we can add our voice to the music that is the universe.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.