Re-framing Right and Wrong

1294 Relax and Succeed - When we know how to listen

This weekend (and for as long as we can sustain it), we would all benefit by engaging with any form of media by challenging and questioning our immediate reactions to it.

Every time we feel compelled to agree with an idea as being ‘right,’ we should reconsider our internal language. We should view the consistency between our view and a person we’re listening to, as being ‘in alignment,’ rather than describing them as ‘being right.’

Likewise we should do the same thing with statements we hear that we disagree with. Rather than defining the speaker as ‘wrong,’ we should see them instead only as differing from our view. After all, when we’re truly wise we realize everyone is a guru. If our judgments mean we decide someone is foolish then we will make no attempt to learn from that teacher.

After all, when we’re truly wise we realize everyone is a guru. If our judgments mean we decide someone is foolish then we will make no attempt to learn from that teacher.

Rather than others being wrong based on our disagreement, we should skip the judgment and meditate instead on the simple question, what life experiences would lead someone to see things that way? In doing so we expand our empathy, our wisdom and our interconnectedness and those things all benefit us even more than others.

This is a very useful exercise, but it demands a lot of consciousness on our part. Even if we’re not that good at altering our narrative, we will all surely gain by paying more attention to what we’re doing with judgments made within our consciousness.

peace. s

The Pursuit of Happiness

This is where the earnest get lost. We think they’ll reach enlightenment first because they’re so dedicated. They moved to a temple or shaved their head or studied theology in university. They’re invested in their pursuit. And yet in the end, you never know who will find it when. Because the problem with trying really hard to find your way to where you’re going is that you’re ultimately not going anywhere.

565 Relax and Succeed - Do or not doThe point is that you started exactly where you should be, so you can’t go find where you already are. So all the effort in the world won’t get you there. You have to relax into it. It’s why I call this whole thing Relax and Succeed. You don’t relax after you’ve succeeded. The relaxation is the success. That’s why it’s got names like going with the flow or in harmony with the universe. It’s because we imagine that there is a current to find or a direction for us to follow. We feel like we have to earn our peace when the truth is we’re born with it and it is never outside of our reach. It is a place that goes wherever we go. It is a place within our own minds.

The Happiness I discuss here is not necessarily you being happy every moment. It’s that you’re happy with your life. Including the dramatic bits. So you want to see your life more the way you would see your favourite TV series. You don’t expect it to be 100% happiness every minute of every episode. There wouldn’t be an episode if it weren’t for the conflict. The Greeks figured that out ages ago. No conflict, no drama.

So you sit down at your TV expecting conflict. You expect drama. And you’re good with that. You’ll invite friends over and spend money on fan gear. All so that they can torture you with sadness, fear and anger (among other things). And yet if you experience those very same emotions in your regular life, suddenly it’s “bad” and we have to make the go away with a pill or a doctor or a relgion? It’s the exact same set of feelings you experienced watching your favourite series. Why do you suddenly mind them now? It doesn’t even make sense.

565 Relax and Succeed - Now and then it's good to pauseHappiness is being okay with whatever’s going on. If we don’t personally like what’s happening we can have that experience and still not think it should be the world’s experience too. That sort of openness leads to the emotional effects being fully experienced, and yet as in the case of watching a show on TV, somehow the non-personal aspect to the experience makes it interesting rather than agonizing. But if we’re sharpening the point of that personal aspect—if we’re telling ourselves a story about how we’re not happy and how we have to get happy—then we can’t be happy if we need to become happy, so any argument in favour of happiness is also a barrier preventing us from actually fully achieving it. So rather than discuss happy vs not-happy, we are better to simply Be. We can always be that ego kind of happy later, after the fact, when we stop being and our ego starts judging our past again.

Sure, work toward a better life. But don’t become so religious about happiness that you become all ritual and phrase instead of being open and alive. Remember, you’re not trying to acquire a skill. You’re trying to enact an unrestrained core sense of being that is the basis of the most fundamental parts of you. You aren’t trying to reach something or get somewhere. You’re only trying to consciously recognize your own role in shaping the universe you live in.

Don’t give yourself reasons to be happy. Just be happiness itself. Leave the naming of it to others. Do that and you will have created a very special and worthwhile day. Enjoy.

peace. s

The River of Life

Your ego is racing around trying to figure out how to fit in. It is striving and pleasing and explaining and convincing and arguing and otherwise struggling to be accepted. Meanwhile your spirit sits passively by, watching you chasing drama like you’re in a play. The real you is unperturbed by thoughts of non-belonging; it knows that a character in a dream fighting with another character in a dream is not something to be fixed, it is something to be understood.

115 Relax and Succeed - People may love youImagine a river filled with ice cubes. Differences between people are like the cubes jostling together as they make their way down that river. Yes they make a lot of noise and some might even fracture or break apart, but in the end does that really matter when the ice is made from the same thing as all the other ice? And that also means your cube is made of the same thing as the river itself.

Some cube-lives will melt much sooner than others because their path naturally takes them into the heat of the sun. Others will be kept cold and hard by their surroundings and they will not melt until the river meets the sea. But even then, all the cubes will always be made of water and they will always return to the sea. So why so much drama over the jostling on the way down?

Can you see that you are battling in a vain attempt to stop the flow of life? Saying I don’t want to be jostled by other ice cubes is to say I do not want to exist. Living is the act of being jostled by the flow of the river and the other cubes within it. You’re not supposed to escape it. You’re supposed to accept it. Because in the end, it’s all just water anyway. In the end, the river is is really the the motion of the cubes. People are other cubes, the slope is time and the length is life. When you relax into that it’s a fun ride. Even the scary parts.

115 Relax and Succeed - We are all onePeople criticizing you or teasing you or even hating you is nothing more than the click clack of cubes in the river. It shouldn’t surprise you that the currents and eddies of the larger river would naturally cause individual cubes to regularly meet each other sharply as they travel in opposing directions. But do we really think the river is doing something wrong when that happens? Should the river change its entire flow for the sake of one particular ice cube? Or are the cubes just doing what they would do given the forces acting upon them? And what’s it all really doesn’t matter because again: it’s all water in different states anyway.

Your consciousness will occasionally be low and you will feel the cold harshness of being an ice cube. The hard edges of your beliefs will clash with the hard edges of other people’s beliefs and life will feel cold and hard. Despite that sensation, the river is still the river and the flow is still moving steadily forward and you are always okay–none of these cubes are really any different than any of the others you’ve faced and all of the cubes will eventually melt back into the river to eventually evaporate and reincarnate as a rain or snow or fog and then do it all over again. So why worry or battle or fight or argue your way through it when it ends the same way regardless? It’s a smoother more rewarding ride if you simply go with the flow.

Other people’s views of you are created by the happen-stance angles of your interaction. They do not need to be fixed or repaired or cleared up or prevented or stopped. They are truly meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Accept that you will feel these impacts when they happen. They will cease to matter as long as you stay conscious of the fact that what you are experiencing is not actually your life. What you are experiencing is simply the flow of the river itself. Enjoy.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations around the world.