Goals That Make Us Happy

November 29th, 2006

This show references an article in American Psychologist titled “Mental Balance and Well-Being – Building Bridges Between Buddhism and Western Psychology”. The idea of this talk is that goals, in and of themselves, are not bad things; but that choosing goals wisely is very important. When a sense of dissatisfaction is our reality how do we choose what goal to shoot for? What will make us happy and what will not?

What we are really looking for in life is stimulus free well-being. Science is proving that stimulus driven happiness doesn’t last. This is due to both the transient nature of things, and also our own mental imbalance and lack of understanding. Science is starting to see that true well-being comes from a state of mental balance that can be cultivated. We cultivate well-being in many ways, but the one idea that primarily fosters it is self knowledge and self awareness. Choosing to make well-being, and ultimately self awareness, our goal ends up being the goal that makes us happy.

This talk tries to explain the motion of desire, and our two choices. One choice is to satisfy the desire, and again science is showing us more and more that that doesn’t work in a lasting fashion. We always want more. The other thing to do is to make well-being our real goal. Once we realize that well-being comes from self awareness and mental balance, we can choose to examine the dissatisfaction when it arises. This doesn’t mean we don’t accomplish things or have external goals. It means we understand more and more clearly what really makes us happy and what does not.

Stimulus driven goals can be meaningful, but don’t lead to lasting happiness. Understanding this is a huge step toward greater wisdom and compassion in our lives. Examining our goals to see if they are stimulus driven can be an amazing exercise in helping us find happiness.

Referenced: American Psychologist

Realizing We Have Enough

November 22nd, 2006

It makes sense that people who don’t have much feel a sense of lack. It doesn’t make as much sense that people who have tons of stuff, lots of money and means, also feel lack. One point of this talk is that the sense of external lack is driven by an internal lack. If we learn to get our joy from inside, we don’t need these external things to the same extent. Another point is addressing the actual lack in people and places on this planet.

I’ve talked before about the state of consciousness that expresses enlightenment comes from a place of abundance. It has arrived. It has what it needs. It’s interesting to see that the external things we want, all the Christmas gifts, and all the status we shoot for, they are fleeting. As I make a higher salary, I still want a higher salary. There is a treadmill here, and I’m not going anywhere no matter what I get or accomplish. Can we see this fictitious sense of lack and expose it?

Real lack does exist on our planet. There are lots of people without enough food. Lots of people without homes and basic needs being met. But at what point do we realize that we are abundant? For those of us that are not starving, and do have shelter, at what point do we feel abundant? Most of us never do.

This sense of lack drives our governments and our corporations. If we were to realize, deeply realize that we are abundant internally. What would change on this planet? One way we can make a dent in the actual lack on this planet is realizing we have enough both internally and externally. If we have enough, we can begin to share.

One could argue that there has been an evolutionary need for the feeling of lack. In small circles without enough resources the strong survive. But now we can see the entire planet, and we’ve never been able to do that before. We all have enough. There is enough food. There is enough money. For the first time in the history of the world, we can see that there is enough.

Those literal external expressions of lack are probably not fixed only by a redistribution. We can’t necessarily just feed the hungry. Historically that ends up creating more dependence and corruption than help. So the issues of lack are complex. But we have the capacity at this point to realize that we all can make it. In the past only some of us, the strongest of us, were going to be able to make it. But now we have the technology and the capacity to work toward all of us making it. All of us having meaningful and productive lives.

What would change on this planet if we all realized that there is enough? There is enough joy. There is enough food. There is enough money. The world is abundant. We are not stuck. The only thing keeping us stuck is our own erroneous sense of lack.

Informed Morality

November 18th, 2006

This talk is about how non-dual experience can inform our morality. It was inspired by a magazine article that painted non-duality as morally irresponsible. Non-duality is not irresponsible. In fact, it can deeply inform our morality.

What is morality? Morality defines and distinguishes between right and wrong. Our own history and belief systems are where our morals are born. It’s important to note that our morals are not universal and can vary greatly. As much as we feel “our” morals are correct, they in fact are relative. There are endless examples of clashing morals, and this is where most wars come from.

So if we describe our relationship to morality in shades, we could say that on one side, there is a person who is fully attached to right and wrong, and all the personal beliefs that support what is right and wrong for that person. On the other side, there is someone who is experiencing a non-dual state; they drop the attachment to good and bad and do not experience duality. All different levels of attachment and morality fall in between these extremes.

If we choose to experience non-duality our morals are informed. This does not mean they are lessened, or weakened. We do not now prefer bad to good. Rather, loosening our attachment to morals can bring deep wisdom. Once we see non-duality, we become less attached, and because of this we are able to deal more easily with complex moral issues.

The world is seeming more and more complex as globalization occurs, technology increases, and more choices in general become available to us. It can often be helpful to come to that complexity with the mind of “I don’t know.” Non-duality comes from place of “I don’t know,” instead of the belief based “I know how it should be” mind set. This allows us to approach complex situations in a more authentic and capable way. “I don’t know” allows for finding out. “I already know” does not. Right and wrong attachments can often be based on beliefs that are not relevant or helpful.

People who practice meditation have the opportunity to work with their beliefs as they practice. But all people see the edges of their moral value systems when things upset them. When we get upset, it’s time to get non-dual. Take a moment to focus on your breath and become still when dealing with things, this will allow for a new morality.

Referenced: Friedrich Nietzsche

Means to an End

November 8th, 2006

In this podcast we have a fist fight at a gun show. Two men, both deeply interested in safety, take very different stances on how to achieve that goal. One, having been mugged and beaten before feels as though having a gun will offer him safety. The other man, losing his son to a gun accident, feels that guns need to be banned. From those different stances, a fight ensues. If they had been more clear on what they really wanted, which is ultimately safety, they would have been able to avoid conflict.

Conflict often arises between people that have the same end goals, but very different means goals. An end goal is a goal that once accomplished is finished. A means goal is a goal created to help achieve an end goal, but isn’t an end unto itself. We often get too attached to a means goal, missing opportunities to achieve the end goal in different ways.

I explain that even what we normally think of as end goals, are really still means goals for what we all really want. Our true end goal is really the ability to manage our own states of consciousness. As an example, we don’t really want money, we want the feelings we think money will give us. That may be security for some, and bliss for others, but it’s the state of being that we want, not the abstraction of money. It turns out that everything we do is in relation to managing our states. Knowing this can breed wisdom and allow us to navigate conflict, and the world in general, with much more ease.

Whenever we come to inner frustration or external conflict, we are at the edge of one of our own attachments, or means goals. Taking the time to be introspective in those moments will help us gain clarity to what we really want (state management) instead of the thing for which we might be fighting (a means goal).

Connecting to the Vine

November 1st, 2006

How do we remember what to do when we feel lost in our daily lives? Metaphor can be a great teaching tool to anchor ideas into our reality. “Connecting to the vine” is a great way to describe connection to oneness.

What happens when a leaf gets cut away from a vine? It tends to wither and die. This talk discusses this idea as a spiritual metaphor. If we consider the expression of oneness as the vine, then our identification with self is cutting ourselves off from that vine. While identification with self can feel quite cut off, it is often called an illusion because we can never leave oneness. We can only identify away from oneness, not actually be away from it. Changing our identification back to experiencing life directly, we reconnect with the vine.

It’s simple to do. We can use times when we’re stuck in line, or in a traffic jam, to bring our focus to the physical sensation of life and reconnect to being. We can make the effort to truly listen to coworkers, instead of thinking of what we’ll say next. This allows us to be present while with others. Whenever we need to walk somewhere, we can bring our attention to the physical sensation of walking to bring ourselves back to the vine of being. And of course we can chose to allow a more formal space for connecting to the vine through meditative or introspective practices.

In this talk I also discuss Jesus and the idea that he was the expression of being connected to the vine. If we change our concept of Jesus from needing to go “through him” to understanding that he was showing us “how to be” connected, we can actually begin to emulate how he lived. If we leave it as an idea, we won’t be able to express his love.

Referenced: Jesus