Yesterday I wrote about depression, a word that drops like a tome heavy on the floor of a library while the echos reverberate awkwardly in everyone’s ears. Today I woke up feeling happy, groggy yes, but ready to go. This can actually be a trap for me, if I don’t recognize it early and think about how to act intentionally. All this energy can propel me past my morning practice into wanting to run outside and sing with the birds and generally gobble up the joyful energy. And then someone says something cruel, or I witness people not being good to each other, or I get bad news, I didn’t get that job or a friend is mad about something, and suddenly I feel deflated, bad about myself, or like retreating. This is the feeling of living unconsciously, where the whims of life toss you around and you respond as though reading a script. Seemingly bad thing happens; feel bad. Seemingly good thing happens; feel good. In following this script we have no choices about how we feel in spite of the fact that the majority of these outcomes were always out of our control.
This is why the energy of joy and the appreciation of beauty require the same equanimity of attitude to behold as the pains of disappointment and rejection; each are transient. Anyone who reads spiritual texts knows this to be generally accepted throughout all faiths and by the most prominent and revered spiritual practitioners; Mahatma Gandhi, Saint Francis of Assisi, Brother Lawrence, the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, Lao Tzu, Tukaram, etc.
So how can I take that joy of life and hold it in my heart, allow it to grow, warming me in a way that I can sustain such that when I recieve “bad news” today I can smile and say this is good too. This too is a gift from god, this is all part of the gift of life that I have been given. Thank you, can I have some more please? This is my challenge for today. For me a big part of having that attitude is merely deciding that I want it and then looking for ways to begin seeing things in that light from early on in my day. Instead of looking at piles of dishes and feeling like I’m behind, or that it is some comment about my responsibility, I choose to see it as an opportunity to take care of myself, do some work and complete a task I set out earlier. Part of the sacred maintenance of my space and a gift to myself later when I am more tired and don’t feel like doing them. When I lose sight of my perspective later in the day and take something personally or start to judge someone else, I can return to the intention I set for myself in the morning. I can look at my slip up as god reminding me that I am human, and giving me again the joy of forgiveness and humility. As I get into the pattern of setting this intention every morning it begins to feel like a game, a game that each opportunity means a victory for love and the joy that I can bring into my life by training my mind to see things as they really are. More complicated situations begin to fall apart before my eyes and I see the magic there as well. Of course this is more difficult when the outcome is something that you’ve been more attached to. While perhaps easy with the dishes, practicing detachment and acceptance may not be so easy with the end of a long-term relationship or a job that you loved. But I believe, and have experienced myself, that even these things can be gotten through intact when you’ve cultivated this perspective. When you take your judge out of the equation, events no longer receive labels. Like water you flow around it looking for god there too. It becomes a gift to you, an opportunity for forward movement and a reminder that other than the garden of love and peace that grows inside as you cultivate it, there is nothing lasting in this world. So let it go, let it all go.