Hide and Seek: The Power of Awareness
Why do we find ourselves entangled in the webs of worry and uncertainty? The answer lies in our tendency to dwell on a future shrouded in fear. In this state, our mind does something truly intriguing; it molds the future fear into a problem. Our fear always holds some sense of potential suffering that intensifies into a sense of impending doom concerning an imminent event. Will we fail? Will we be hurt? Will we experience loss? Will our desire that is attached to an outcome not give us that outcome? Will I be loved? Will I have enough? Will I be enough? Then, there is the question that swirls around our past mistakes. Will I be found out? – this is our anxiety.
Anxiety emerges as a product of our mental landscape when we live in the clutches of grasping desires and self-cherishing. This perspective is firmly rooted in the “me” and the “mine,” stemming from a profound sense of isolation. “My” takes center stage. Will we attain what we desire? Will we lose what we cherish?
Everywhere we look, we perceive distinctions. Instead of embracing unity, we encounter hierarchies, divisions between Self and other, superior and inferior. This dualistic perception fuels our ego, plunging us into feelings of inadequacy or superiority. Regardless of the polarity, this constant judgment and evaluation forms the bedrock of our anxiety.
Our mind seeks surety, satisfaction, safety and happiness. But this material world outside is a world enmeshed in the pairs of opposites. It is a constant mix of pleasure and pain, success and failure. We soon discover that nothing outside ourselves offers enduring respite, as the root of our anxiety lies in our misperceptions that the thing outside will provide happiness inside.
True relief only emerges from dispelling our delusions. It commences with the acknowledgment that lasting contentment cannot be found externally. It necessitates an internal shift in perception, a release of resistance and a growth in acceptance.
This transformative shift initiates when we exchange self with others. It advances as we engage in acts of service towards others. It culminates in the realization that others are a reflection of the Self. When our perception is unmarred by delusion, external circumstances wield no power over our inner equilibrium.
Nervousness and anxiety can also be the outcome of overstimulation and overexcitement of the senses, disrupting our mental equilibrium. Binge watching shows, fourteen-hour work days, endless talking and gossiping, and non-stop activity all overstimulate, causing anxiety. Negative emotions such as fear, hatred, anger, melancholy, envy, sorrow, and discontent, as well as the apprehension of lacking life’s necessities, contribute to the unbalancing of the life force coursing through our senses and mind. Intense emotions and negative thoughts foster a destructive turmoil within our mind and body.
In a limited state of awareness and delusion, we erroneously identify ourselves with our bodies and attach an exaggerated sense of importance to our individual existence. We wrongly attribute our suffering to external sources. These misconceptions tether us to our bodies, exacerbate self-cherishing, and perpetuate a false sense of separation. This misalignment prevents us from recognizing that it is our forgetting and our resulting mental, emotional, and physical habits and reactions that underlie our suffering.
Anxiety, at its core, arises from a distorted perception of reality and our responses to it. In this battle against anxiety, discipline emerges as our steadfast ally. In its absence, we often find ourselves mired in disappointment and distress. However, when harnessed, discipline becomes the catalyst for achieving equanimity. By honing our ability to focus on positive aspects of life, we cease the wasteful scattering of our mental energy. This intentional redirection of attention facilitates the relaxation of the mind.
Achieving calmness necessitates an examination of our habits and perspectives. Are our thoughts and actions simple, ethical, and selfless? Are our thoughts filled with compassion? Every thought and action leaves behind a residue within us, influencing our feelings of restlessness or tranquility.
Do the people we surround ourselves with promote peace? Does our environment, as well as what we consume mentally, emotionally, and physically, foster an atmosphere of serenity and balance? Is our life in harmony? Our decisions should be anchored in the criterion of mental peace and stillness.
Avoiding over committing our minds to numerous activities and inputs prevents over stimulation. Assess the benefits derived from each activity and determine their true significance. Remember that we absorb the energy of the activities we partake in, the thoughts we hold, the people we associate with and our habitual thought patterns.
Embrace solitude as a companion on our journey towards enlightenment and peace. Engage in introspection, commune with nature, and savor silence. While it is healthy to occasionally enjoy outings, dine with friends, and maintain a social life, remember to dwell within the authentic Self. Prioritize the practice of introspection, solitude, nature, and silence. When we choose to interact with others, do so with love, but keep our mind attuned to the highest.
Simplicity and ease should govern our lives. Remain unencumbered and uncomplicated. Practice acceptance, non-resistance, and peace. By nurturing a peaceful internal environment, we deprive anxiety of its sustenance, leaving the mind incapable of conjuring problems.
Pleasure vs. Happiness
We often conflate pleasure with happiness, yet they are distinct experiences with differing sources and consequences. Pleasure is derived from sensory encounters, while happiness emanates from within, stemming from our connection with the Self.
Pleasure, in its constructive form, can enhance our appreciation of life’s beauty, like the joy of witnessing a breathtaking sunset or feeling a gentle breeze caress our face. It can serve as a gateway to a deeper understanding of the magnificence of existence. However, pleasure can also be a double-edged sword. When it devolves into desire, clinging, and self-centeredness, it becomes anxiety-producing, dissonant and exhausting. Ego-centric pleasure reinforces our attachments and aversions, limiting our growth, exacerbating selfishness.
In contrast, the happiness cultivated through persistent practice leads us toward liberation from suffering. While it may initially demand determination, discipline, and unwavering wisdom and may even seem bitter at first, over time, it transforms into nectar. This happiness establishes us in the tranquil expanse within. Unlike fleeting pleasure, happiness can be enduring. It fosters unity and connection with the wellspring of intelligence and energy, as it hinges on our profound connection with the Self, our source, our presence.
Living consciously involves scrutinizing our motivations and outcomes. We can assess whether our thoughts, words, and actions are driven by ego-centric pursuit of pleasure, which fosters attachment, aversion, and self-centeredness, or whether they are guided by the pursuit of selflessness and Self-revelation, which promote centeredness, unity, compassion, and love.
There is a story of a young man. As he walked along a tree-lined path leading to the seminary, his heart brimmed with dedication and zeal for his impending journey into priesthood. Fervent prayers echoed in his mind; “May I be a good man and may I live a holy life.” He was poised to embrace his new calling. However, fate had a different plan in store for him. When an enchanting woman crossed his path, he couldn’t resist the allure. Gazing skyward, he whispered, “But not yet,” and veered off the trail to follow her.
Desire casts a shadow over our lives, for it tantalizes us with an elusive happiness that perpetually remains just out of reach. We yearn, covet, and pine for a fulfillment that forever eludes us, even when our desires are seemingly satisfied. This elusive mirage is nothing but a creation of our imagination – a conditioned response. We have been led to believe that a relationship, a material possession, or a specific circumstance will be the key to lasting happiness. Despite a string of disappointments, we cling steadfastly to this belief. Even after multiple marriages and divorces, business successes and bankruptcies, and periods of perfect health and sickness, when we find ourselves reclined on the psychologist’s couch, we still harbor the illusion that external factors possess the power to bring inner joy.
We ensnare ourselves in the web of our own narratives of dreams coming true. When momentarily this narrative becomes reality, we may experience a surge of accomplishment and relief, a rush of pleasure, a fleeting moment of excitement. But soon, the same internal voice resurfaces telling us to rush on to the next thing.
The impact of desire, intertwined with attachment and aversion, is a detachment from presence, from awareness. When we become lost in our desires, the richness of the “now” escapes us, and we inadvertently live a life of resistance. Resistance to ‘what is’ entails a perpetual push and pull – clinging to what we want and repelling what we don’t – manifesting as ceaseless dissatisfaction and a restless mind.
Realizing that what we seek is within us, in the “now,” is the key to easing restlessness. But we must accept the ‘now.’ We must accept ‘what is.’ Through ease, non-resistance, and acceptance, we can discover inner peace. Desire coupled with attachment to outcomes embarks on a never-ending and disillusioning quest, fanning the flames of restlessness as we endlessly chase a sense of permanent satisfaction that remains forever elusive.
Even when we understand that bliss resides within, it remains a challenging goal, far from quickly attainable. Realistically, it requires a lifetime of dedication to consistently realize and experience a state of stillness. Our societal conditioning holds a formidable sway over us. We receive fleeting moments of joy from external stimuli and find it elusive when we attempt to source it from within.
However, it’s essential to understand that our dissatisfaction is a profound teacher. It tirelessly reminds us that external acquisitions cannot provide lasting satisfaction. Dissatisfaction encourages us to embark on a journey of Self-discovery, demanding unwavering determination, profound understanding, and repeated experiences to unveil the truth hidden beneath our endless stream of thoughts and emotions.
We should cherish those fleeting moments of inner peace, even if they are rare. True peace emanates from our inner depths, not from external circumstances. The source of our inner peace serves as our guiding star, our compass in life. Inner peace is what truly matters. A peaceful mind paves the way for stillness, which, in turn, unveils profound realization. To attain this peace, we can explore various doorways: meditation, selfless service, moments of stillness in nature, and cultivating a positive internal environment. What we choose to invest our attention and time in shapes who we become.