Archive for Happiness

No kool-aid for me, thanks

Posted in Christianity, Cults, Happiness, love, Reality Bites, Religion, society, Ultimate Reality, World of Emotions with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 12, 2009 by wizardsmoke

For some strange (albeit predictable) reason, religious nutballs are never content to keep to themselves. I mean, they do sometimes; but then they do crazy stuff that goes against national laws, like polygamy, or they infiltrate the government from their affluent, influential-yet-isolated temples. All the rest of us non-religious people supposedly envy their blind faith, which makes everything easy and happy for them. Except if that were the case (them being happy), why are they so dead-set on converting every last one of us non-believers?

It’s not like I could give two smokes about Atheism/Brights/materialists/empiricists and whosits either. I think those guys are possibly just as nuts. But the religious people — their logic just doesn’t add up (ha, big surprise!). They rarely come off as happy, just as pleasantly stoned or something. Which seems to be the marketing trend in convincing people you’re enlightened — act blissed out and stoned and smile with big groups of the kool-aid drinkers.

Crazy thing is how slick some of the religious evangelical-conversion types are at what they do. Some guy in a tie comes up and asks if he can help you move the table out of your apartment complex and the next thing you know you’re sitting in a Mormon Death Star, wondering whether you can get the magic underpants without paying the joiner’s fee (you can’t, and the Mormons are amusingly the closest to happy people I have had try to convert me).

The truth is, religious nutballs are just conspiracy theorists. And conspiracy theorists generally operate under the same set of principles, which are that they have the goods and nobody else does, especially not other conspiracy theorists. But here’s where it gets interesting: rather than shut up about this fact, or reside quietly and self-satisfied, they can’t shut up about it. They have to talk you and everyone else’s ear off about how they figured out this amazing truth that is so incredible, and they want to share it with you. They’re absolutely terrible at keeping a secret.

Aren’t they all like that? The Yogis/Yoginis, religious people, Illuminati conspiracy nuts, New Agers and 2012 people, Alcoholics Anonymous, political nerds, metaphysicists, Athiests, philosophers, psychedelic drug users, teenagers, people-who-read-the-news, and so forth. They cannot shut up. It is amazing, really.

It’s a lot like desperate romantic love. It’s this exciting thing that is cooked up in the mind and becomes this meaning for existence because it has been cooked up in the mind for so long, but in reality it (the person being fantasized about, or in this case, the religious delusion) is just another boring human being or boring fantasy.

The other thing is, religious/conspiracy people will absolutely not be satisfied by everyone chiming in with their story or tune. That’s not the romance of the whole shebang; the romance is found in the valiant, tragic, martyrdom of the lone wingnut preaching to a world that won’t hear of it. But they wouldn’t admit that for a second. Because they’re addicted to the chaos.

If you’re thinking I hate religions from all of this, you’re wrong. I think religious are just fine (or bad) like anything else. But one thing that interests me is what Thanissaro Bhikkhu said: when he went to teach English in Thailand after college and met his future Theravada Buddhist teacher (Ajahn Fuang?), unlike everyone else he had met in life, this guy seemed genuinely happy.

And that’s the clincher, the results of the adopted practice should genuinely be happiness. Not sudden explosive, placebo, faith-healing happiness, but genuine happiness that accumulates momentum over time. If the practice or religion does not produce this, if it is not reflected in the students of the practice/religion, why should I take any interest in it? Even if you smile or laugh or post pictures of yourself smiling and hugging everyone on your website, if you’re desperate to convert people to your way of thinking, you are not happy. And ironically (but not remotely surprisingly), the happiest people I have met were not peddling anything spiritual, nor were they trying to show everyone how happy they were.

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Wisdom from the Village Idiot

Posted in Happiness, karma, Mysticism, Philosophy, World of Emotions with tags , , , , on March 23, 2008 by wizardsmoke

People take the goal and meaning of life from varying, obscure practices. Some people like to play music or make art. And some people like to fight. Or they achieve a feeling of accomplishment from exposure to violent interactions. Some people get all their energy from being alone and contemplating their existence. Some people jog in the morning or decide to have kids. Some people follow their greed or lust for power. If it exists under the sun, it’s someone’s religion.

Really, people are so conditioned by so many factors in life, shaped by karmic circumstance. How much of it is a choice? The only choice we make is to say yes or no to mentally (sometimes physically) participating in activities. We tend to forget we’re our genetic dispositions, our environments, our inheritance of merit and intuitive wisdom. We all think we know what’s best for us, but no one really knows. Not that there’s no free will, but everything is connected. So you can’t blast off away from everyone or your past or your inheritance.

To get somewhere astrally good, ya gotta have faith in yourself, but I’ll be damned if most people even know what they’re doing day-to-day, much less in life and the universal scheme (you should be able to assess your trades, talents and volitional qualities by the time you’re 25 as far as I’m concerned). It’s only okay to have faith in yourself if you’ve got some nice comfy insight into your existence on this endless wave. Ah, again though — everyone thinks they’ve got it, don’t they? What a tricky situation! It’s like that high-larious joke I’ve heard: to be a ruthless dictator you’ve got to have really good taste.

As I’m prone to say, the real trick to being satisfied is just getting up early in the morning and getting stuff done. That’s your base on which to build energy. And then on top of that, there’s the pleasure of having little satisfactions.

Little things that make life fun. Like, for example, the way everyone is so excited when they have a package coming in the mail. It’s just so universal — everyone loves it! Nobody hates it! It’s seriously like hitting the first jhana, every time you’re anticipating a package! Other examples of these pleasures include digging into a good new book or watching a great new movie or reading a great new Wizard Smoke post, etc. You know, little things. And they’re obviously not only materialistic, but these are cool examples because they’re minutely materialistic. They don’t have materialism as some goal.

The opposite of that, when life sucks the most, is when you get up late and neglect to do the important daily functions and errands of life. Work, school, the things we love — when these are neglected and slept through, a person feels like crap. Energy gets zapped! And then the drained misery is accentuated by the bothersome little things in life, right? Like, when you go to the store for a little audio adapter and drive all the way home to discover it’s the wrong one. Or when you start a band practice and break a string right away and have no replacement, or when you anticipate eating your favorite cereal (usually Corn Pops) and discover your little sister ate it all first! Augh!

Yeah, I guess it’s all about anticipation, right? When we anticipate things, our very contentedness, our very happiness hangs in the balance! Our happiness relies on the success of the object of anticipation! It’s a good thing I cleared that one up. Your lives should be smooth sailing from here on out.

…And It’s All Happening

Posted in Beauty, Happiness, love, Ultimate Reality with tags , , , , , , , on March 20, 2008 by wizardsmoke

Some of my earliest vivid experiences are of moments of samadhi-like clarity. Basically, up until a certain age (until whenever my sex drive kicked in) I would periodically stare at one thing in front of me or in my environment and just repeat to myself that it was real. This is all real. This is really happening. This life, right here. It’s happening. Right now. Bam!

Seems like such an obvious thing to do, right? If I concentrated hard enough I’d come to grips with that idea as an experience and not a speculation. It’s still a pretty incredible phenomenon to me now. Only now I recognize that it’s a practice in itself. It wasn’t until years later, after I had been done being a dumb-ass teen that I recognized this was a basic form of meditation concentration practice. You know, focusing on the single object to reveal the whole awareness around you, living here in the present moment.

And it isn’t just some meditation practice that brings this about. This is just being alive for real, in the moment. Everyone experiences it every so often, it’s just a matter of getting so you’re “in the zone” all the time. Like a mean jazz legend playing an instrument, every moment is free but also segueing into the next.

But it isn’t just being “in the zone” as far as getting into a rhythm. It’s when you see the pinnacle of perception, when you see the eye of the cosmos in something finite. It’s perceiving the timeless essence of the orgasm, or the climax of a musical piece, or the impeccable sensations of a masterfully and lovingly prepared cuisine. This is reality. But unfortunately these are the only times most people see reality. Ahh… so that’s why everyone’s addicted to sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll!

People have said, that when you get enlightened, everybody is enlightened with you. I mean, how could it be otherwise? You’re not some separate individual at that point. Whether you are or not in the conventional social sense is not the issue; an enlightened being sees the very border between self and not-self and can freely go between the two without association. No definitive limits!

When I was younger, I was a bad student. I had no interest in schoolwork, had a dysfunctional family, was angry, frustrated, ad infinitum. My youth was like a great exploitative coming-of-age film script. But the thing that always jerked me around even in my intoxicated emotional state was the idea that this is all actually happening. I think that’s the thing that was so crazy about doing psychedelic drugs at one point. It snapped me right back into that samadhi-like clarity of when I was a little kid!

Of course, the problem was that I had all these emotional impulses and issues by this point, so the state of deep awareness was no longer peaceful or useful. I actually got attached to it! But I got pretty pumped up all over again the way I did as a kid. It’s all happening. So, gradually stopped doing drugs and started taking up meditative practices and became really interested in religious philosophy.

What’s so amusing is that to people using drugs, anyone who goes straight and sober and lives for a new, “natural high,” seems absolutely nutty! But really, who is the most nuts? What about people who aren’t taking any kind of drug? There aren’t many people like that around. So many people don’t fess up and take responsibility for their spirit. So many just give up, become an evangelical/fundamental religious peon or get involved in a cult. It’s pretty hurtful to see.

The happiest, most heart-warming stories and ideas, aren’t they so sad? At the bottom don’t you want to cry? It’s only natural, because once you wake up and realize we’re all alive and this is really happening it totally melts your heart. It destroys the fabric of emotional complexity and hatred and anger and so on. It’s just really distressing that people live in absolute ignorance and hurt themselves constantly or aren’t strong enough to destroy their problems and their demons. When life is most real is when someone dies, or when your heart is broken or when you’re so happy you just want to hug sharks and jellyfish and don’t care if you get punched in the face.

But what about me? How do I know I’m not just nuts? How do I know everyone doesn’t feel this way also? And so, life goes on. We all go about our business, feeling this or that way inside, and never share it explicitly. To open yourself up too much is to be fatally wounded. That’s why we aim to disappear completely. Nobody left to wound!

Scary business, those people who go all the way…