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 answers to these questions hinge 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 finding happiness stems from how easy it is to imagine circumstances that could make us even happier. This could come either, a few moments from now, tomorrow, or when (_you name it_) happens. The promise of winning happiness 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 happier. Chapter 81 notes 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 his life for my 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 imbalance in these statements?
It is as simple, and as difficult, as letting go of expectations. It takes constant vigilance because emotion (i.e. innate cup’s half-empty fear) continually stirs up thoughts and expectations. 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…? Note: Mother Nature induces us to feel life’s cup half-empty much more than the reverse. The fear of half-empty drives life to fill in order to survive.
How to let go of expectations
Biology (bio-hoodwink) fools us constantly. Realizing the ancestral foundation of this can help avoid some expectations. Our innate hunter-gatherer instinct tells us that good things lie ahead, just over the next hill or in the next bush. In ancestral times, that is how we found our next meal. Circumstances have changed, but the instinct remains as strong as ever! “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’. You don’t need faith for this; all you need is to test it out. As chapter 21 suggests, This essence is quite genuine, And within it is something that can be tested.