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This Kind of Happiness is No Happiness at All

Key Lesson: Any happiness we feel over the pain that someone else goes through -- regardless of who or why -- insures we remain a blind prisoner of the fact that hidden within our present idea of happiness also lies the source of our suffering.

Learn to Turn to the Eternal

Have you ever said something you wished you could take back... that if you could have swallowed it as it was coming out of your mouth, you would have? What we can't hide from ourselves is that such an unkindness was the best we could do in the moment. That is humbling. But rather than understand that this order of humiliation can serve as part of our salvation, we either turn on ourselves, or find some way to justify an act we know can't be justified. And so we avoid the moment in which we see that the character we know we ought to be -- that we suspect we're intended to be -- wasn't present at that moment. Instead, something in us spoke for us; words were said that we would have rather not spoken.

Every human being -- unless they are damaged beyond repair -- senses that what bothers them about any moment in which they act or speak cruelly isn't that the moment took something from them that they wanted, but rather that they didn't possess themselves in that moment.

This sensing is indicative of an essential need -- a quiet longing in our soul -- to always be in charge of our own nature; our essence instinctively seeks to be patient, to be receiving and giving what is good. Our true nature is intended to be harmless, to never wrongfully cause another human being to suffer.

And it is this innate longing that moves us to gradually seek an inviolate sense of self. We don't want to feel ourselves being what we are because of what someone else does. What kind of life is it if how I feel is determined by what you do? Then my actions come as a result of a reaction to you. Ultimately I know that the reaction betrays both you and me, and maybe even enables the relationship.

That is when the true idea of repentance begins, where the true turning to face a new interior direction starts. It's not through a process of trying to affirm an identity we've come up with in some psychopathic imaginary life about spirituality. It's not born of a desire at all in the sense of desiring some end that we can reach where we'll be free. The real spiritual life is born out of a need to no longer be what something inside of us sees as nothing but a string of compromises.

When at last we see how our present sense of self is little more than a derivative of relationships with things outside of us, and realize that most of our pain is the negative byproduct of these unseen attachments, we start to want to have our own life; and this is a right longing. There is a celestial part of a human being that understands he or she is meant to patient, kind, and forbearing under all conditions, even in the midst of the "worst" of them. This wish is given to us; it originates from something timeless that belongs to us, and to us alone.

Our new intention is going to be, in any given moment -- regardless of who we are with, or what's happening around us -- to remember our wish: we must reclaim our attention and turn it inward. This turning interiorly marks the beginning of the end of hurting others as well as ourselves. It serves to establish a new order of relationships with life that are not so whimsical -- whose contentment is no longer determined by whether it rains or shines, or the person smiles or doesn't smile -- because we have chosen to turn towards something more everlasting, eternal.

This article is excerpted from The Genesis of Love ("The Truth and Triumph of the Meditative Life").

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