"Only in that which has emptiness can a new thing take place." ~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
In my forthcoming book, I guide the reader through a progression, which, from beginning to end, is a gradual process of uncovering the authentic Self by removing harmful outside influences I call "covers." But this progression is the opposite of the path that most people take in life.
One common mistake is to believe that progression can only take place if something is added. It is the illusion that more things--more money, material wealth, social status, and worldly accomplishments--are required for happiness.
You go through life thinking that more stuff translates into more happiness. And thus you continue adding layer upon layer of materiality on top of the authentic Self.
The illusion does have a connection with reality: New things do actually bring temporary states of pleasure. But the newness and the pleasure they bring fades and leaves you feeling empty and perhaps depressed. These feelings are real but the illusion is that you are not really empty, you are full. In fact, you are too full; you are covered by the falseness of materiality but you still believe that adding more things will bring happiness. Can you see the vicious cycle that is created? Unhappiness leads to the desire for and acquisition of new things; the newness fades; a false sense of emptiness returns; more new things are added; temporary states of happiness ensue; unhappiness returns, and so on.
The popular concept of "the bucket list" is a prime example of this illusion. You think of all the things you want to bring into your life that are not there now and you devise a plan to collect or accomplish these things and add them to your bucket. Checking the things off of your list brings pleasure; you are filling your bucket. However the key aspect of the illusion is that there are too many things in your bucket already. These are things that actually need to be removed. Adding things now may just cover your authentic Self further and push your problems deeper and deeper down.
"Don’t seek for truth—just stop cherishing opinions." ~ Zen Saying
Not all of the things I speak of here are material things, such as electronic devices, clothing, cars, and houses. These objects can also be false covers but the non-material things that need to be removed include your opinions, dwelling in the past, hoping for the future, and the constant desire for more. These things are commonly referred to as your "baggage."
- Your opinions come from your environment--your family, friends, race, religion, nationality, social conventions and so on. You think your thoughts come from you but they don't; they come from outside influences, which you have adopted as your own. To drop the baggage of opinions you don't necessarily need to stop having them, which would be impossible; you just need to stop cherishing them. Can you see the difference? When a thought comes to your mind, just simply recognize it as "not you," observe it as just another part of your conditioning, your programming; and watch it pass like a cloud in the sky. If the majority of the human beings on the planet could practice this successfully, if they could drop their baggage, there would be no world conflicts.
- Dwelling in the past and hoping for the future removes you from the place where life resides--the present moment. Quite simply, when you are not present to yourself, you are not living; you are merely surviving; you are dead in the figurative sense.
- The desire for more is part of your nature. Therefore, like opinions and thoughts, there is no healthy means of eliminating it. Instead replace desire with contentment and preference. For example, you will find it impossible to ever be satisfied with new things if you can never be content with or embrace what you have now. Even if you are in a place of suffering, embrace it as a natural occurence and you will begin to move past it. But if you dwell in it, the suffering will become part of your identity and will thus be more difficult to move beyond. And when the desire for more enters into your mind, replace it with preference. For example, "I like my small house but I prefer something a little bigger." When the new thing comes into your life, you will appreciate it more because you were already able to live without it.
"You don’t have to add anything to be happy; you’ve got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!" ~ Anthony De Mello, Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality
Returning to the idea of the bucket list, the prudent pursuit for mastery of life is to be sure your bucket is empty before adding things. Also, the desire to fulfill certain wishes or dreams in life is abolutely healthy and recommended by your humble author. Life is short and there are things to do before it ends. However, don't make the mistake of killing the present moment by maintaining the illusion that happiness is produced by adding things.
Instead of creating new destinations, you may simply make the destination the path itself. To paraphrase Johann Von Goethe, "Life is about life and not the result of life." You will not live if you do not see that you are already at your destination now.
Empty Bucket Image By: Archigraphs