Hide and Seek: The Power of Awareness

Chapter Twenty

Alignment and Harmony

From Sadness to Joy:

In our pursuit of happiness, we often tether our joy to specific outcomes, unknowingly setting ourselves up for a life riddled with disappointment.

As Yogananda (1893 – 1952) wisely taught, “Happiness is not a thing, it is a state of mind.”

When the mind is peaceful it becomes possible to experience the stillness that allows the light of the true Self, awareness, to shine forth. Then the mind experiences true happiness. True happiness emerges when our mind reconnects with its source and becomes bathed in the soothing waters of bliss.

However, in our moments of disconnection, when we confine ourselves within the bounds of limited identities, we inadvertently construct walls that imprison the happiness flowing from our inner Self. These walls, built by the ego in a bid for safety and protection, unfortunately thwart the natural flow of joy. This self-imposed isolation replaces our sense of unity. This imprisonment of happiness begets sadness, and the core fears prevail.

Isolated, self-absorbed, and trapped in fear, we begin to perceive problems all around us. Feelings of loneliness, isolation, and an inundation of problems lead to an overwhelming sense of sadness. We believe that no one loves us because we’ve lost sight of our inner love. Remarkably, this state of mind is not a product of external circumstances; it is an internal creation. With the Self buried and forgotten, the wellspring of joy remains concealed. As we further root our experiences in this isolated, self-contained state, sadness evolves into depression, and the prison walls thicken.

I recall an incident with my teacher when a distraught woman beseeched him for help. Tears streamed down her face as she poured out her heart about the consuming sadness and depression. He calmly responded, “Do something for someone else,” and then instructed her to leave. She departed, infuriated that he hadn’t provided the help she sought. Unbeknownst to her, the complete answer had been delivered, but her expectations prevented her from grasping its wisdom.

Venerable Thubten Gyatso, an Australian Buddhist monk, provided a similar response to a comparable query: “Should we flush our Valium and Prozac down the toilet? No, not yet. Begin with small actions to help others – empty the garbage can without being asked, clean up our own mess in the kitchen, polish the shoes of others. Smile occasionally. Gradually build up the courage and determination to confront our self-cherishing mind and declare ourselves a slave and friend of all living beings. Then we will extract more joy from cleaning up somebody else’s mess in the kitchen than we will ever get from watching television. Not only will this lift our depression, it will place us on the path to bliss.”

In moments of sadness, we can also dissolve this emotional burden by submerging it in neutral, non-judgmental awareness (see practicing awareness). Surrendering our sadness to our own awareness, which radiates love as its primary vibration, can catalyze a profound transformation. The energy of sadness, quite literally, undergoes a shift through the soothing power of awareness.

There exists another facet of sadness – one that emanates from deep love and connection. When my teacher passed away, tears flowed involuntarily, and a profound sadness gripped me. This sadness was born from a profound love and connection. The love was exceptionally pure, and the presence of my teacher was deeply felt. I would no longer behold his beloved face, and this profound sense of love and loss forged true sadness – a pure and authentic expression of love.

From Lack to Prosperity:

Reestablishing a connection with the source of intelligence and power – the authentic Self – unleashes boundless potential and wisdom. Abundance transcends mere material wealth; it represents the embodiment of the limitless intelligence and power intrinsic to our being. Material wealth is but a symptom of this deeper connection.

When we confront situations of scarcity and limitation, our immediate impulse is to focus on the outward appearance – the symptoms. We see it as an event, a circumstance in which we lack something. These symptoms and situations often mask the true source of our condition, which we seldom investigate.

Our initial reaction to scarcity is invariably symptom-oriented. We believe that to alleviate the need, we must acquire the missing thing. Yet, if we fail to alter our connection with intelligence and power, we will find ourselves trapped in the same cycle. Even if we do attain some material gains, the flow of power and intelligence from the source remains stagnant. Consequently, the underlying issue remains unresolved, and the lack persists.

Lack is not synonymous with the absence of material possessions; it denotes an insufficient connection to our own intelligence and power.

This lack of connection manifests as limited focus, intuition, and creative energy. It constrains our vision and stifles our potential. Intelligence and power emerge from our Self when we are connected.

Possibilities and potential reveal themselves when intuition and creativity shine forth. Maintaining an undistracted focus through attention enlivens that creative intelligence and empowers our actions (while not being focused on the outcomes). This ensures that the flow of creativity culminates in the highest actualization.

Life is perpetually in motion, an eternal dance between ascension and descent. Something is always rising, while something else is diminishing. This inherent state of flux and transformation is the essence of change and creativity – a fundamental characteristic of the relative world. Old gives way to new, and new gains strength and prominence as the old recedes. It’s a testament to the natural order of life, wherein over 99 percent of all species that ever existed have become extinct.

In times when life appears to recede, and we find ourselves seemingly adrift, this ebb and flow remains a constant. It is a natural part of existence in a flow of creation, maintenance and destruction. However, when we cling tenaciously to what’s diminishing – the past – and neglect to wholeheartedly support what’s ascending – the present – we inadvertently stall the flow of life. Change decelerates, and our intelligence, creativity, and energy grow stagnant. In this inert state, vision narrows, and opportunities slip by unnoticed.

This pattern of change applies to interest and attention as well. We often experience bursts of enthusiasm and creative ideas, only to watch them fade before reaching fruition. To thrive, we must bridge this gap and see our visions through the lens of realization, both of the expansion of inner consciousness and its outer creation. Remember, attention is focused consciousness.

From Fear to Love:

As pure awareness prepares to create, it assumes the role of creative intelligence – a pulsating force of love. Love is the fundamental movement of the unified principle of life, an integral aspect of the fabric of existence.

While the term “hate” carries immense weight, it is a reflection of the profound self-discontent that often plagues us. Our inner sentiments and self-perceptions radiate outward, affecting both our interactions with others and our perception of the world.

From an early age, society conditions us to equate wrongdoing with suffering and punishment. This conditioning ingrains the belief that if we err, we deserve chastisement – spanking, detention, divorce, incarceration, condemnation to hell, or even execution. Consequently, when we find ourselves in a state of failure or mistake, we often assume that we are inherently bad and should suffer.

Many attribute to Jared Diamond the story of an African tribe that commends individuals who commit transgressions. By reminding wrongdoers of their innate goodness and qualities, the tribe eschews punishment. Instead, it encourages the transgressor to remember their inherent value. This approach starkly contrasts with the punitive measures practiced in most societies, reinforcing the belief in our unworthiness and inadequacy.

Instinctual fear arises initially to protect us, even as it leads to separation when not consciously dealt with. But the core fear of misperception has the power to destroy Self-love. Love and the core fear are locked in the perpetual battle for dominance. It ends up being a battle of the wave and the ocean. When we identify solely with the wave we live in a very limited identity, neglecting our vast oceanic nature. Waves perceive themselves as small, isolated, and inadequate. It is only when we recognize our boundless potential and connect with the ocean’s stillness that we realize our true worth and sufficiency. Then the duality that breeds fear can dissolve in the unity of love that is the Self.

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