Archive for the ‘chatting/pondering’ Category

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Moments of clarity

November 30, 2019

Or: An alternative tale about happiness.

The word happiness means a lot of different things to different people, and most meanings are perfectly legitimate, even if they greatly differ. Happiness is a pleasant state of mind, it is joy, contentment, delight, glee, felicity, beatitude, and much, much more. Happiness can be a philosophy (Epicureanism), a life’s mission, the fulfillment of a dream, a short rest from all these struggles, or the final haven after a toilsome and exhausting odyssey. Happiness can be the journey, the destination, or both. 

Happiness can become a habit, but reaching this point needs determination and endurance.

Blogger Caitlin Johnstone calls it “That moment Of clarity,” and she writes: All the stuff that fell away is what’s not real. All the mental chatter, all the sticky fixations on people and opinions and gossip and guilt and shame and insecurity and inadequacy and obligation and dread, that’s what’s imaginary. What’s real is what remains when all that stuff fades into the background. What’s real is the presence you experienced in your moment of clarity.

Alexander Maslow called it “peak experience” by a “self-actualizing individual.”

A peak experience is a blissful mental state of complete calm. No unfulfilled urges, no timetables and deadlines, no dreams and hopes pushing one forward.

No, this is not an epiphany, not a moment of sudden and great revelation or realization. Don’t hope and wait for the mythical epiphany. There is no epiphany, because synaptic connections in the brain are only gradually built or strengthened. Which can take days or month or years.

One has to prepare for moments of clarity, for the peak experiences over a long time — in fact over the whole life. And if one ever reaches this state of clarity, it may only be short. One also cannot force it and one has to be lucky. The stars have to be aligned, various things have to fall into place accidentally.

Only a chosen few are fortunate enough to make the moments of clarity, the peak experiences last permanently. The steady stream of sensory signals from both outside and inside one’s body, the challenges of daily life, urgencies, misfortunes, and ailments will make the feeling of clarity fade away. Clarity, peak experience will become a distant memory.

But this is not an on-off switch, the experience of that precious, sacred moment will change your life, and if you are able to renew it, maybe feel the moment of clarity even more intensive, there will be more change. You will be astonished seeing yourself do what is necessary, what is prudent, reasonable, sensible, appropriate. You will realize that you indeed live a life of discipline, virtue, modesty, and love.

Some people may find it helpful to define the process of preparation for clarity in neurological or psychological terms:

a. Constant conscious diaphragmatic breathing.
b. Quieting the brain chatter (by control of inhibitory (GABA) neurons).
c. Focusing (on parts of the body, on chakras, mantras, prayers, musical rhythms).
d. Balancing neurotransmitters (serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin, dopamine, etc.)
e. Activating the parasympathetic nervous system (relaxing, smiling, vagus nerve, guts).
f. Living aware, inspired, disciplined, modest, purposeful, forever curious.

These are only six aspects of one integrated process. It is just a descriptive tool to make it easier to grasp what’s going on. In the end understanding has to be intuitive. We will never be able to completely rationally define the networks of 86 billion neurons in our brain with a trillion or more synapses. We will never be able to completely rationally define the infinitesimal events, forces, vectors in the causal stream of life where everything is connected and influenced by everything. We will never be able to describe the dizzying variety of life, put it into words, or explain it to our peers. 

But it will be good enough to genuinely feel the wonder of life and show our feelings to whoever is receptive.

One could also name the process to gain clarity as body-mind intervention, mindfulness, meditation, or something completely different. One may find sacred traditions of Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Voodoo, Druidism, Shamanism, or sacred rites of any other kind helpful. Whatever works…

You could also just hug your cat and listen as it is softly purring. You don’t have a cat? Please visit the next animal shelter, there are for sure some cats waiting desperately to find a new home and a host whom they can teach how to be happy.

You could also roam the woods and make friends with the animals of the forest. Listen to the whispering of the leaves, listen to the birdcalls, listen to the many mysterious sounds the animals of the forest make. Sit down on a tree trunk and wait quietly and patiently like Francis of Assisi did. Maybe you are lucky and some forest inhabitant will come out of the underwood to look what you are up to.

Happiness can become a habit. As it is the most desirable and beneficial state of mind, it should be taught to every child from the first day of life. Every mother knows that, but if she is not happy herself, she will not be able to teach her child.

To strife for happiness should be mandatory, obligatory, and happiness should be at the center of any government plan, not only in Bhutan but in every nation all over the world. Happiness should be an indisputable human right on the same level as clean air and water, healthy food, and a safe, warm, and dry shelter.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand why happiness is the only sensible, meaningful, and desirable attitude, feeling, state of mind, and way of living. 

Just imagine, that you are gloomy, melancholic, miserable, distraught, desperate, and without hope. That you feel lonely, confused, nervous, and anxious; that you are filled up with resentment, bitterness, jealousy, and hate. It’s no fun to live such a life, it will make you sick, you will suffer, you are likely to die painfully of cancer or some other terminal illness.

The journey of life will take us to many destinations. If we are lucky we will be able to stay in or always come back to our community, be near our family and friends. If we are adventurous and want to see and learn new things we maybe (hopefully) will find a quiet and unpolluted place to settle down and live a fulfilled life.

Not all of us will be that fortunate. Maybe we have to move because the forests are cut down, the rivers run dry, the sea is rising, and war is raging. In a crowded world it will be difficult for a refugee to find a new home and to be accepted in a new community.

On our journey through life we may walk through busy streets buzzing with life or through dark and empty ones. We may walk through alleys of dead trees, their branches reaching out in vain. We may walk through cities of ruins, the streets littered with gravel and blocks of concrete, the pavement bloodstained.

Whatever happens, being calm, easy, composed, mindful, contented, and happy will make life bearable, will help us to survive and pass all trials and tribulations unharmed or at least alive and able to recover.

You will maybe not think much about this text and forget it. Maybe after some years when it had slowly and subconsciously sunk in you will one day remember.

This is the beauty of aging: Your eyesight will deteriorate but you nevertheless will see more — more than you ever would have imagined. And you will see further than you ever would have imagined. You will see far, far beyond the horizon.

One day you’ll remember, one day everything will fall into its right place. You will spread your wings, take to the sky, and start to sing a little song of joy and freedom:

Out of curiosity
Challenging life’s mystery
Questioning our destiny
What will be our legacy?

Do we learn from history?
Tales of hate and perfidy
Cruelty and treachery
Atrocity and slavery

High up there is magic silence
There’s no strife, no pain, no violence
No rejection or defiance
Just grace and benevolence

Here I found the real me
Peace, love, and serenity
I was blind but now I see
I was chained but now I’m free

A little song, a few simple rhymes, well-intended though a bit clumsy. Was it good enough? Did it reach you, did it resonate?

I make some soothing sounds, but they don’t show up on the screen. I don’t know how to type them in. When my lovely cat companions hear these sounds they start purring.

What are the words which represent these sounds? What are the words which tell the absolute truth? Where are the words of wisdom, the words which cannot be misunderstood, the words which are liberated from semantics and any kind of philosophy? Do these words even exist?

Or is “the Tao, that can be told not the real Tao”? Is “the name that can be named not the eternal name”?

Is Lao Tse still more important than Xi Jinping ever will be? Is the Tao Te Ching worth reading? Or is it better to depend on the wisdom of the New Your Times, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal?

The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name. The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth. The named is the mother of ten thousand things.

Do we need ten thousand things? Do we need to know the name?

Don’t get distracted, don’t lose focus. The journey of life will take us to many destinations. We may enjoy it or dread it, but we just shouldn’t forget to feel our breath, to smile, and be happy. 

Follow your heart, but spend your limited time wisely. Above all, don’t forget to be happy.

You have to find the Tao yourself, nobody can do it for you. You have to sing the little songs of love and joy yourself. You have to walk the long and winding road of life yourself.

I just hammered a little road sign into the muddy ground.

Related:

https://mato48.com/2014/12/20/love-peace-and-happiness/