You think you’re so important. You’re waiting for the universe and all of its secrets to be revealed to you. You want to know. You want to be sure. You want to be able to predict when and how and why the good and bad things happen so that you can align yourself with the good things and avoid the bad things. That’s what you want.
At least that’s what your ego wants. It thinks it wants to know everything. It thinks it wants all happiness and no sadness, but that is like saying you would like all happy songs and no sad ones. You know that’s not true. In fact, if you got that, eventually you’d grow to hate the happy songs. You’d 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 you can still find it depressing. You can still judge it as bad. As we know, most Western teens go through a dark period where they absolutely love songs that are all about death and anger and morbid things. So happiness and sadness are like a filter you place over the world. The world is the world.
The filter is what the Buddhists call The Illusion. The point 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. Do you get it? There’s a great lesson in that. Why are some of the destitute people happy when the rich ones aren’t?
It’s not that the rich people got the sad songs. 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 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 you want your life and the world to be different than it is then you are doomed to live an emotional roller-coaster of dissatisfaction, frustration, anger and sadness. But if you accept that your life will include some mystery, and some sad songs, 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 you can instead immerse yourself in it. And in doing so we realize that we never needed all of the songs to be happy ones. We just needed to be happy there were songs at all.
You don’t need to figure a bunch of things out. Not how to be enlightened, nor happy. Instead, just listen carefully to the world. It’s singing to you every day. All you need to be is quiet enough to hear it so that you can add your voice to the music that is the universe.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.