The Human Condition
Two letters about some key aspects of the human condition, and my answers:
In this first letter, is it just my silly positive thinking, or do I have something else in mind when I ask this man to make a list of the benefits of losing his job? You decide.
You suggested that I make a list of the benefits of having lost my job. I think that is a crazy thing to do and I very much resent the idea of positive thinking. In fact, to me positive thinkers are just deluded fools who don’t have the guts to face the inevitability of death. Sooner or later, the sun is going to blow up and all living things, whether they have perfect abs or not, will be reduced to ashes. What I don’t get is why, while this is all coming my way like a truck barreling down the highway, I have to live and eat and have a family and buy a new air conditioner. I think you are asking me to play Scrabble while I am on a train that goes somewhere I don’t want to be, as though it could possibly help me enjoy the ride and divert my attention from what is really going on.
For example, I have had role models before whose behavior I tried to replicate, only to find out years later that these people were cheats, liars and in some cases child molesters. So in a way I’m glad I didn’t really succeed at emulating them.
What is strangest about this negativity is that I find a kind of satisfaction in it that wasn’t there before. Is it just repressed negativity coming to the surface because of Holosync? I will say that this feels better than the state I was in a few months ago, but still.
There is tremendous benefit in making a list of the potential benefits when something you don’t want happens. Losing a job, for instance, might send you in a new direction that is much better than the old direction. It might result in meeting someone, whether in a new job or in your search for a new job, who could turn out to be your best friend or in some way play a tremendously positive role in your life. You could find out, as I did, that you really ought to be an entrepreneur instead of working for someone else. You might learn about some aspect of life that your old situations hid from you. And so on. Who knows what the benefit might be.
When Centerpointe was a year old, someone sued me for a million dollars. It turned out to be a huge positive turning point for me, though I definitely didn’t think so at the time. In fact, I was waking up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat. I won’t go into the whole story here, but if it had not happened–and if I hadn’t made a list of the benefits of being sued similar to the list I’m suggesting you make, I would have walked away from Centerpointe, which has changed me in so many positive ways.
I share your feelings about “positive thinking”–most people who are into positive thinking are really disowning the negative aspects of life, which I think is ignorant, and dangerous (since what you disowns manifests anyway, but in a dysfunctional and immature way).
However, what you focus your attention on makes a huge difference in how you feel, how you behave, which people and situations you attract or become attracted to, and what meanings you assign to the events of your life. These four things in great part determine your experience of life. Making a list of the potential benefits of something negative that has happened changes your focus to what is possible, and most of the time I’ve found that these possibilities end up happening–if you focus on them.
Napoleon Hill has said that every adversity contains the seed of an equivalent or greater benefit. He adds, though, that you have to find that seed, and germinate it. Making the list I suggested is a way of finding it.
I think it’s healthy to realize that all things are impermanent, as you say. However, I don’t think it helps to be in resistance to that fact, or to decide that there’s no point to enjoying life due to the fact that it will ultimately end. That would be like not eating an ice cream cone because it will eventually be gone. Death certainly adds a bittersweet quality to being a human being, but those who accept death as an unavoidable part of being human end up with a deep inner peace. Those who fight the fact that life (and everything in it) is impermanent end up bitter and unhappy.
How you respond to life is a choice, but only if you are aware enough. I’m just suggesting a way to be more aware. If you are only aware of the negatives about losing your job, and you think that cataloging the possibilities is something to be resented, you’re cutting yourself off from being aware of half of the situation. If you do this with everything, you’re cutting yourself off from half of the universe.
As for the mentors who turned out to be cheats and liars, isn’t there a benefits to that discovery, also? Doesn’t that experience contain some valuable wisdom that could make you a better human being? Couldn’t that experience help you not be like these people, or help you spot such people in the future, so as to avoid them? Couldn’t you also take in and embody the good aspects of these people without embodying the bad?
Perhaps it’s valuable to realize that all people have the capacity to be both good and bad, and to accept this as part of the human condition (in yourself, as well) without becoming bitter about it? Life is what it is, positive and negative. You have a life to live, and how you live it is a choice. Instead of fighting against the fact that it isn’t the way you’d like it to be, do what you can to make it better while you embrace the fact that it is what it is.
There’s enough difficulty in being being human without adding your resistance of those difficulties into the mix. Most human frustration and suffering isn’t the result of one’s circumstances, but rather of one’s response to those circumstances. That response is a choice, but you have to be aware enough to see it. Then, once you see the choice, you have to exercise it.
What can you do if you have an experience of oneness, but then you have to leave it?
I have had several experiences of this oneness. I best describe it to myself as “the consciousness of the universe”, I think its the same thing? They only last a few seconds, they come and they go as I do my shikantaza [a type of Zen meditation, usually translated as “just sitting”].
I just wanted to tell you how I feel, I guess. I feel pretty sad when I “come back” to being attached to my thoughts. To this idea of me. And I feel really sad for not being able to stay there longer. The freedom…and peace…
The nostalgia for my Home is unbearable. And as you know, when you seek it you never find it, so I also struggle with intensely wanting to feel it and failing, and its at those times that I curse and wish I never knew this “truth”.
And then I just go about my day pretending that the day matters, when all I want to do is go home and sit.
I really struggle at times to stop meditating and get up and do something, though I strongly believe that I should be part of this world and participate, its just that sometimes I get carried away and meditate all weekend. I guess you can see my struggle there huh?
The only thing that has helped me with that is learning how to attach to people and things, (with your teachings on focusing on what we want etc.). I mean for me, that is the only thing that gets me up from the cushion. Attachment.
Also, I am doing this on my own, well, with your teachings and blog that is, but other than that I have not found a zen teacher here in athens (greece) so I mostly rely on you and genpo and the internet. But that is not enough is it?
So I guess, I just wanted to let you know how I am doing, and where I am at, at the moment, and ask you if I am on the right track, if what I feel is normal or if I am doing something wrong.
thank you so much,
You are seeing an experience of the transcendent as an escape from life. This is quite common. However, you can’t escape from life. Those who attain a state where they can sit in the transcendent all the time eventually have to deal with the fact that they still are human and subject to the human suffering created by cause and effect (which involves not getting what you want some portion of the time) and impermanence (which means that everything–including Natasha–eventually passes away).
The real attainment is to learn to experience the transcendent, but also to embrace being human, with all its problems and built-in suffering. In fact, experiences of the transcendent seem to help you do that, because you realize that there is something bigger than what you thought you were.
This is one reason why the first course [in my Life Principles Integration Process online courses] is so important. You need to see how, using your Internal Map of Reality, you create 1) how you feel, 2) how you behave, 3) which people and situations you attract or become attracted to, and 4) what meanings you attach to what happens.
If you feel sad when an experience of the transcendent ends it is because you are making internal representations of something you don’t want. It is not because you miss the transcendent. It is because when you think of the transcendent after experiencing it in meditation you automatically and unconsciously make internal representations of something you don’t want. Those internal representations create the bad feeling–in other words, YOU, by something you do, create the bad feeling.
Right now you’re doing this outside your awareness, which makes it seem as if these feelings are “just happening.” Actually, you’re DOING those feelings. If you learn to observe yourself making those internal representations, and see how what YOU DO creates the bad feeling, you’ll probably stop doing it, because those feelings don’t serve you, and you can’t do what doesn’t serve you AND do it with awareness. When you do something outside your awareness, you have no choice about it. When you do it with awareness–where you watch yourself do it–it becomes a choice. And, you will always choose what serves you (and others).
You don’t have to be sad about being a human being. You can CHOOSE to feel any way you want about it.
To navigate our way through life and make sure we survive, we create a map of who we are, which we call “myself.” That map is very incomplete, though. And, it involves dividing the world into separate things and events, including a separate “thing” we call “me.” We need this map, though. Without it we couldn’t navigate our way through life, or even survive.
The problem isn’t that we have this limited map. It’s that we mistakenly think that this map (our idea of who we are) is who we are. This would be like thinking that a map of Greece is the real Greece. But having a map of Greece, or the fact that a map of Greece isn’t Greece, isn’t a bad thing. It’s quite useful, in fact. But if you thought that map WAS Greece, you’d do all kinds of crazy things. You might try to travel to Athens on those little lines that represent roads.
What I want you to realize is that you HAVE a map of who you are and what the world is, but it’s just a map. The real you, and the real world, is much larger than your map. In fact, when you have an experience of the transcendent you are experiencing that larger you. As I said, the real attainment is to know the transcendent, but at the same time make your peace with being human.
And, it’s okay to embrace being human, just the way it is.
Don’t go yet. Here’s something else you might find interesting:
If you’ve been flirting with the idea taking my Life Principles Integration Process online courses, this is probably THE best time to actually do it. Why? Because for just a few more days the price is 50% off, plus an additional discount I’ve temporarily added. This discount, however, will be gone VERY soon.
One of the options in taking these courses is unlimited, direct email access to me so you can ask any questions you have. This access lasts FOREVER.
Here is an rather amazing letter I received recently from one student, a young French woman living in England:
On my goal statement I wrote….
To have a job I love here in England, earning 1500 pounds a month, working for a company who values her customers, employees and provide a valuable service. In a nice clean, safe environment. With full training, providing me evenings and weekends off.
Just to let you know I am starting next week a customer service job working for a beautiful company who contribute to the environment and human rights and sell beauty products.
That not for the health insurance group I wanted, but much better. I went today for the interview and was stuck to see such a nice working place. At the reception they have a big poster with trees, and I thought WOW…Environment is very important for me and it is too for this company.
It is not possible to describe how Grateful I am to you. I use to cry because of my unhappiness..I still cry but now because I can’t believe how happy I am and how much all is changing.
*My relationship with my family has really improved, especially with my father, I had the most amazing time with them this summer.
*I feel so much better within myself, feel more confident.
*I am more Aware of what I do inside and I know I can turn my self sabotage tendency when it surfaces. I did not know before I was doing something…
*I have helped 2 of my sisters who were really down, mainly only by repeating what I learnt from your course
*I got the right answers to tell my parents how to turn their life after the bankruptcy of the biggest part of the family business,
*Things who were so difficult to do before, are just now… just normal and even I wonder why I found them so challenging.
*While listening to your meditations on the course i felt connected with everything around me
*One day you said I am Worthwhile…gosh, I was ashamed I told you about my life…but now, I do not feel useless anymore by doing the Goal statement and contributing more, I enjoy now been here and been useful
*I now work for a company whom I am proud to be part of, they value world contribution, environment.
*Many of my fears have just disappeared
*I am more active, and in a more focus way toward my goals realisation and contribution
*I take more care of myself
*I am Inspired, full of Hope, I have Faith and I love life…..
With huge gratitude, Ghislaine
I get these letters all the time because these online courses really do create dramatic and deep changes in the people who take them.
Wouldn’t you like to write me a letter like this because you experienced your own version of this sort of dramatic positive change?
You can check out these courses–and still get the huge, not quite expired, better-that-half-off discount–by going to www.centerpointe.com/life/preview.
(click the player above to listen to this post)
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