This post continues from my last post, Keeping Birthday Happy. Asking how happy we are, or wish to be, is an important question seeing that we spend much of life seeking happiness. Are you as happy as you would be if…? could be if…? should be if…?
The answer to any of those questions hinges on what you think will do the trick. This suggests why chapter 71 warns us… Not to know yet to think that one knows will lead to difficulty. The difficulty we have seeking happiness stems from how easy it is to imagine some circumstance that will make us happy. It will come either, a few moments from now, tomorrow or perhaps if or when (you name it) happens. The promise of winning keeps hope alive. This is like the gambler who keeps putting good money after bad.
One of life’s great ironies is how letting go is the only way to be truly happy. Chapter 81 points to this principle, Having bestowed all he has on others, he has yet more; Having given all he has to others, he is richer still. Christ also alludes to this paradox, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it”. Not surprisingly, these teachings can be hard to swallow when taken literally… so don’t!
Literally bestowing all one has on others, or losing one’s his life for any sake, only upsets the balance of Nature. Zealots, blinded by passion, don’t consider such unintended consequences. What about reasonable people? How can we keep to the spirit of these teachings, yet avoid the inherent bias in the words? As chapter 1 notes, The name that can be named is not the constant name.
It is as simple, and as difficult, as letting go of expectations. It takes vigilance because expectations continually rise up from emotion to tug at thought. The moment you forget and start believing what you think, the thinking will drag you off to the land of would if…? could if…? should if…?
How to let go of expectations
Biology fools us constantly and without end. Comprehending the ancestral basis of this can help avoid some of this bio-hoodwinking and its subsequent expectations. Our innate hunter-gatherer instinct is a siren’s call that good things lie just ahead, just over the next hill or in the next bush. In our hunter-gatherer days, that is how we found our next bite to eat. Circumstances have changed, but the instinct remains just as strong as it ever was! Cognitively “bite the bullet” and accept the fact that nature is fooling us with an illusion that happiness lies just ‘over there’. It truly isn’t and so the less we look ‘over there’, the more we can find it ‘right here and now’. Best of all, you don’t need faith for this; all you need is to sincerely test it out. As chapter 21 hints, This essence is quite genuine, And within it is something that can be tested.