“Peace is inevitable to those who offer peace. Peace is an attribute in you. The mind that wants peace must join with other minds, for that is how peace is obtained. The only way to have peace is to teach peace.”
From insane wishes comes an insane world. From judgment comes a world condemned. And from forgiving thoughts a gentle world comes forth.
“Be as simple as you can be; you will be astonished to see how uncomplicated and happy your life can become.” ~Paramahansa Yogananda
For over 200 years “the pursuit of happiness” has been thought of as a self-evident truth and human right. But what if happiness cannot be pursued? What if happiness is actually much easier to find once we stop chasing after it?
Buddhist psychology teaches that peace, love and happiness are mind states, that appear spontaneously when fears and desires dissolve, when we open our hearts (and minds) to the present moment- right here and now.
As the Dalai Lama put it, “happiness is determined more by one’s state of mind than by external events.” All the healthiest mind states and emotions arise naturally when we live in harmony with life, when we let go of wanting things to be different and instead appreciate the Universe just as it is.
What Buddha realized, over 2,500 years ago, is that our psychological states are a result of our interpretations of reality. Believing we need to acquire possessions, achieve something or change things (the world, ourselves, others) in order to “attain” happiness is a false belief that actually creates anxiety, fear, worry, distress and suffering.
Unhappiness means our hearts and minds are not at ease. We are off balance, don’t feel safe, complete, worthy or whole. People with PTSD experience this to an extreme, but for millions (perhaps billions) of human beings modern life generates anxiety and fear as a norm. It’s what feeds the consumer culture of our present age, as well as wars, drug addiction, crime and most of the conditions of human suffering.
The truth which Buddha discovered (and modern psychology now provides support for) is that happiness, love and inner peace will arise naturally when we are generous, mindful, compassionate and appreciate the present moment.
Being grateful for (and mindful of) what we are doing and already have (rather than anticipating getting what we want in the future) is the doorway to peace, joy and satisfaction.
When we believe there is nowhere else to be (but here), nothing in the Universe that we need to change (right now), our minds stop racing and calmness begins to rise naturally, by itself.
As we stop spinning thoughts and cravings its like removing heavy curtains that had blocked our senses, our soul’s windows to the world. By letting go of desires, fears and expectations our hearts and senses are able to shift attention to the beauty of the present moment, the magic of this Universe we belong to.
Many people meditate to cultivate serenity and calmness, but healthy mind states can also arise naturally during creative and physical activities such as dancing, playing music, cooking, reading, drawing, gardening, yoga, sports and playing with children. Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes these moments as flow, where mindful concentration and creative engagement help us feel connected to the world and happy to be alive.
When anchored in the present moment, we can more easily hear the sounds of birds, stop to smell the flowers, see leaves of trees waving with the wind, feel the life in the cells of our bodies, notice the smiles on children’s faces. As our senses open colors seem deeper, music sounds more clear and beautiful.
No longer pursuing some ideal future our hearts relax and we become aware of the sacred beauty of this moment, this place, this precious life we are living right NOW.
Experiencing the beauty and preciousness of life doesn’t mean we have to give up trying to change the world. War, poverty, racism, sexism, materialism all need to be dismantled, challenged and undone by the human family.
But if we don’t simultaneously understand how to be happy, peaceful and loving right now, we end up creating more suffering, fighting ignorance instead of transforming and healing the world with our wisdom, creativity, mindfulness and love.
The darkness won’t dissipate until we bring light to it. Realizing that happiness cannot be pursued provides the key to finding peace in our lives and sharing it. Understanding that life is about giving (not getting) we are better able to help others, setting a butterfly effect in motion, that can ripple out into the world.
This understanding, of the beauty of the Universe we live in, is what the Buddha tried to communicate, what Zen and Taoism are all about. It’s what Einstein realized, what Walt Whitman shared in his poetry, what Mozart celebrated with his music, what Van Gogh attempted to capture with his paintings.
The great thing about positive mind states is they’re contagious, growing in size and power when we offer them freely. Unfortunately, the same is true with negative mind states! Which is why it’s so important for us to choose our thoughts wisely. The more peace, love and happiness you are able to cultivate in your life the more you will have to share with others.
By being the change we wish to see in the world, as Gandhi put it, the world is changed, beginning with each of us, as we awaken to the simple everyday beauty of our lives.
“See simplicity in the complicated, Seek greatness in small things. In the Universe, the difficult things are done as if they were easy.” ~Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching
“If you see yourself in the correct way, you are all as much extraordinary phenomena of nature as trees, clouds, the patterns in running water, the flickering of fire, the arrangement of the stars, and the form of a galaxy. You are all just like that.” ~Alan Watts
“People normally cut reality into compartments, and so are unable to see the interdependence of all phenomena. To see one in all and all in one is to break through the great barrier which narrows one’s perception of reality.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
“You are not IN the universe, you ARE the universe, an intrinsic part of it. Ultimately you are not a person, but a focal point where the universe is becoming conscious of itself. What an amazing miracle.” ~Eckhart Tolle
“Free from desire, you realize the mystery. Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.” –Lao Tsu
* Glimpses of a Creative Universe * Paradigms are Made for Shifting * Yūgen (幽玄) – Deep Awareness of the Universe * Poetry Surrounds Us – Vincent Van Gogh * Children of the Cosmic Dance * Awakening from a Case of Mistaken Identity * Zen & the Art of Living Deeply * How Einstein Saw the World * Shifting Paradigms: Aligning with the Wisdom of Nature * How We Participate in the Creative Life of the Universe * How Wisdom Grows – Educating Hearts & Minds * Surrendering to the Paradigm of Love * The Creative Matrix: Awakening to Find Ourselves Home *
“The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside. Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things.” ~Jean Klein.
The following is a short excerpt from Who Am I? The Sacred Quest by the spiritual teacher Jean Klein (1912-1998). The wisdom here is deep, so best to read slowly. Also, to go from conceptual understanding to experiential knowing (as Klein describes) it helps to have a spiritual practice (such as yoga, meditation or tai chi), that enables your awareness to expand beyond the illusory sense of “I” that society feeds and the mind projects.
“To be human is to be related. As a human being we live in relation with the elements, the sun, moon, the stones in the earth and all living beings.
Generally, when we use the word “related” we mean a link of some kind between individual entities, object to object, or subject to object. The word relationship here presupposes separateness, the joining together of fractions. This fractional view of relatedness is purely conceptual. It is a figment of the mind and has nothing to do with pure perception, reality, with what actually is.
When we live free from all ideas and projections, we come into real contact with our surroundings. Practically speaking, therefore, before we can be related to our environment we must first know how to be related to that most near to us, body, senses and mind.
The only hindrance to the clear perception of our natural state is the forceful idea of being a separate individual, living in a world with other separate beings.
We have an image of ourselves. This image can be maintained only in relation to things and thus it makes objects of our surroundings, friends, children, spouse, intelligence, bank account, etc., and enters into what it calls a personal relationship with these projections.
The fanciful idea of a self is a contraction, a limitation of wholeness, real being. When this notion dies we find our natural expansion, stillness, globality without periphery or centre, outside or inside.
Without the notion of an individual there is no sensation of separateness and we feel a oneness with all things. We feel the surroundings as occurrences in unrestricted wholeness.
When our lover or children leave home or our bank account drops, it is an event in us. Awareness remains constant. All phenomena, all existence is an expression within globality and the varieties of expression only have meaning and relationship in light of the whole.
To be related is to be related within the whole. Since there is no meeting of fractions, in the whole there is no other. Strictly speaking, therefore, in perfect relation there is no relationship, no duality; there is only globality.
All perception points directly to our primal being, to stillness, the natural non-state which is common to all existence. Thus, in the human expression, to be related is to be in communion with the whole. In this communion the so-called other’s presence is felt as a spontaneous giving and our own presence is a spontaneous receiving.
There is no longer a feeling of lack and consequently a need to demand, because simply receiving brings us to our openness. When we live in openness the first impulse is offering. Being in openness and the spontaneous movement of offering is love. Love is meditation. It is a new dimension in living.
You live in contraction, thinking of yourself as an individual. Where do the terms ‘me’ and ‘mine’ find meaning? All humanity is in you. You are what you absorb. You eat vegetables, fish, meat, and these are dependent on light, the sun, warmth.
The light is related to the moon and the stars are all related. There is nothing personal in us. The body is in organic relationship with the universe. It is made of the same elements as everything else.
You must understand and co-operate with the body. It is ignorance of the mechanism that creates conflict. Inquiry can only be carried out in daily life. Your mind and body are reflected in your behaviour from morning until night. Your attention must be bipolar, observing the inner and outer fields.
Relationships are the mirror in which your inner being gets reflected. Be aware that you are a link in the chain of being. When you really feel this, the emphasis is no longer on being individual, and spontaneously you come out of your restriction. You do not live in isolation, in autonomy. In relatedness is the fore-feeling of presence.
The person is really only persona, mask, but it has come to be synonymous with the idea of an individual, separate and continuous entity. The personality is not the constant we imagine it to be. In reality it is only a temporary re-orchestration of all our senses, imagination and intelligence, according to each situation.
There is no repetition in life and each re-orchestration is unique and original like the design in a kaleidoscope. The mistake is to identify with the personality, to conceptualise it in memory and then take ourselves for this collection of crystallised images rather than letting all emotions, perceptions and thoughts arise and die in us.
We are in the theatre watching our own play on stage. The actor is always ‘behind’ his persona. He seems to be completely lost in suffering, in being a hero, a lover, a rascal, but all these appearings take place in global presence.
This presence is not a detached attitude, a witnessing position. It is not a feeling of separateness, of being ‘outside’. It is the presence of wholeness, love, out of which all comes. When no situation calls for activity we remain in emptiness of activity, in this presence.
Generally, we are fixed in patterns of communication but when we live in openness a great sensitivity arises, a sensitivity we never dreamed of. When we approach our surroundings from wholeness our whole structure comes alive. We do not hear music with the ears only.
When the ears cease to grasp sound for themselves we feel music with our whole body, the colour, the form, the vibration. It no longer belongs to a specific organ. It belongs to our whole being.
This creates a deep humility, an innocence. Only in humility is true communication possible. Then one lives in a completely new dimension. To live as a personality is to live in restriction. Don’t live in restriction!
Let the personality live in you. In living in the environment without separation there is great, great beauty…
Don’t try to influence [others]. The moment you breathe, the whole world is affected by your inhalation and exhalation. So when you live in peace you radiate it. If someone asks for help, help of course. But don’t become a professional do-gooder.
If you have any idea of being somebody, a friend, helper, political person, teacher, mother, father, and so on, you will only see the situation coloured by this image.
It is a fractional view and because it is partial it breeds conflict and reaction. Since the action did not appear and disappear in wholeness there will be residue.
Before acting, one must understand the situation. To fully comprehend it, you must face the facts free from ideas. It must belong to your wholeness; otherwise you are stuck to the wheel of reaction where there is only relationship from concept to concept.
When you become a professional doer you are no longer spontaneous. You can never create harmony. It is beautiful to be really nothing, without qualification. All that appears, appears in you.. Then all action is balanced.
First you have to know how to face the facts properly, that is, free from the limited individual point of view. Our surroundings appear to us according to the stance we take.
From the point of view of the body and senses, the world appears as sense perception. From the mental view the world appears as mind. From consciousness the world is only consciousness.
Don’t try to change anything. Only be aware that your ideas and actions stem from the mind. The moment you look at your surroundings from consciousness you will see things differently and seeing things differently your understanding and actions will be different.
The question often arises: how can I change society, I disagree with so many things? You can never change the world from the personal standpoint. You can only change society from the impersonal, from consciousness.
Realise that there can be no transformation unless action comes from a completely different view than before. In the personal realm you remain an accomplice with society. Creative action can only come when you see your surroundings from the point of view of consciousness. Then you are really related to society, the situation, the world.
Otherwise, you remain related only to yourself, your reactions and resistances. See that society begins with you. You are your own nearest environment, so begin with yourself.
When you learn how to look at your closest environment you will automatically know how to look at the broader environment. In this way of looking there’s understanding, and understanding brings right acting.
The moment you come to the living understanding, you won’t need to ask anyone else what to do. Where there’s an ego there is purpose. And when there is no sense of ‘I’, there is no purpose. Life is purposeless. There’s only beauty in living in the eternal.
If you believe you are the individual ‘I’ you are isolated from your surroundings, and this isolation brings feelings of insecurity, fear and anxiety. Then you look for goals. You worry and anticipate.
Life doesn’t need a reason to be. That is its beauty.”
“From a Gaian point of view, we humans are an experiment — a young trial species still at odds with ourselves and other species, still not having learned to balance our own dance within that of our whole planet…” ~Elisabet Sahtouris
The following is an excerpt from the book Earth Dance: Living Systems in Evolution, written by evolutionary biologist Elisabet Sahtouris in 1999. Inspired and encouraged by scientists Jim Lovelock (Gaia Theory) & Lynn Margulis, Dr. Sahtouris shares here the vision of wholeness that Gaia science and theory provides us with..
Fortunately, our survival struggle is leading to intuitive grasps of nature’s principles that are shifting our technologies into serving cooperative life purposes, especially clearly in the phenomenon of the global Internet.
“We need to listen to the land’s dreaming intelligence, hear its stories and hear its vast and more than human voice. All our dreams are connected with our bodies, all our dreams are connected with each other…” ~Jason Hine
We need something much deeper than just eco-psychology; it is not enough to do psychology, psychotherapy or healing in the context of nature or to do ecstatic dance in a concrete building, rather there may be a need to get on the land and listen to the land’s sentient intelligence.
When we sense some kind of intelligence in the land it may not just be us ‘projecting’ something onto the earth but rather the earth dreaming us, a larger force of nature communicating with us. We may need to consider what the land has to say. What does the land want from the human beings on it? What is the land’s greater dreaming? What new story for life on earth is the land trying to bring forth at this time?
We need to listen to the land’s dreaming intelligence, hear its stories and hear its vast and more than human voice. We need to hear the animals and plants, the otters, foxes, nightjars, sea trout, sunfish, curlews, herons, plantain, dog rose, pear blossoms, walnut trees, old growth copses, muddy estuaries, ancient dreaming forests and the mountain and the rivers speak.
A psychological perspective leads us to believe that myths, complexes and so on are inside us, but they are also to be found in our relationship with the land, in our interpenetration with the non-human intelligence of the earth.
It is not exactly that the earth and its spirits and non-human intelligences are ‘outside’ us either, rather there are innumerable ‘outsides’ and ‘insides’ which are interpenetrating or entangled with each other, or another way to look at it, there is one vast ‘inside’ which includes not just our psyche and body but also our community, world events, the hills and rivers, rooks and egrets nesting in willow trees and basking sharks ploughing through dark waters.
All our dreams are connected with our bodies, all our dreams are connected with each other, all our bodies are connected and our somatosensory awareness in relationship to others has the effect of dreaming each other and our culture into existence.
Political ideologies, illnesses, world problems, and ancestors, ghosts, demons, faeries, Gods and Goddesses, yidams and benevolent spirits are all embodied non-locally in us, in the land, and in our relationship, our disconnection or connection, with each other and with the earth’s dreaming intelligence.
If we want to bring more consciousness to our communities and repair our relationship to each other and to the earth then we need to bring more consciousness to these powers, especially to their more difficult, repressed, disavowed, oppressed, taboo, terrifying, problematic, aggression or grief-filled embodiments, as well as those that are full of joy, magnificence and pleasure.
We may need to go deeper into them, to enter their somatic embodiments, phenomenological states, movements, stories, myths and visions and allow them to be seen in council, in play, in ceremony, in conflict resolution and in ceremony.
By Jason Hine
Jason is an earth based facilitator, deep ecologist, ceremonialist and coach who helps people to connect with their mythic self and the sentient dreaming intelligence of the earth to find vision, overcome obstacles, build community and resolve inner and outer conflicts.