Monday, April 20, 2009

How To Live Happily - More or Less

I was never a huge 'Seinfeld' fan, altthough I recognize a certain existentialism that at times was appealing, and once in a while, a true teaching. For instance, those who ARE fans will certainly remember the episode in which George decides to do the opposite of whatever his initial tendencies are. Sitting with Jerry in the cafe, he sees a pretty girl and wants to approach her, but then remembers that basically everything he tries fails. (If you're a real die-hard fan, forgive me if I don't have it exactly right and just follow along.) Jerry suggests that whatever he thinks he should do or tell her, that George should do exactly the opposite. So instead of feeding her some line of bullcrap, how about just telling her the truth. George decides that might just work, and so going to the young woman says, "Hi, I'm George. I'm totally unmotivated, am unemployed and live with my parents." And, of course, the woman immediately turns to him, smiles, and with obvious interest, replies, "Really?!"

Essentially, any unhappiness is caused by not getting what we think we want. What we think we want is a product of our ego or our sense of individualized and separated "I". The mind and intellect (manas and buddhi in Sanskrit) decipher what are the objects of awareness, (not a problem), but then the label them as desirable or undesireable. The sense of "I" wants what it deems as desireable and rejects what it sees as undesireable. Thus causing the unhappiness.Nisargadatta said something to the effect of... "You are unhappy because you want what you don't have and don't want what you do have. Just turn that around - Want what you have, and don't want what you don't have." The simplicity of it is overwhelming, however, the practice is often another thing. We are trained, especially by our present day culture, that we should be able to have whatever we want. Our entire culture is geared around the fact that we should have exactly what we want, when we want it. We deserve it. We are entitled to it. Forget what anyone else wants, or what impact our wanting has on anyone or anything else. Gimme, Gimme, Gimme.

One of my semi-surrogate grand-daughters was over the other day with her 14 month old baby girl, and she mentioned that her new favorite word is, "MINE". She'll pick something up, anything, and boastfully proclaim, "MINE!" Is this not what everyone is trying to do?When I was around 11, my parents signed me up for piano lessons with the local piano teacher, Mrs. Merciel, an older widow who lived at the end of the block, and I think had been teaching piano since it was the harpsichord. I remember almost nothing of what she taught me (and still can't play piano worth beans), but one thing has stuck with me over the nearly half century. Nearly everyone has heard this, but it was the first time I had heard it, I have noo remembrance of the context of why she said it, but it was...

"The more you know, the less you know."

While an obvious Truism, it is also a teaching.

So, another way of looking at Nisargadatta's statement is switch 'more' for 'less'......

The less you know, the more you know.

Want more Money? Try wanting less money
Think you are more special? Recognize you are less special.
Think you should do more? Try doing less? (Or try Be-ing more)
Want more people to like you? Try wanting less people to like you. (or Want to like others more)Think you deserve more. Consider that you deserve less. (or be grateful for the more you have).
Think you need more knowledge? Trying needing less knowledge.

I think you get the picture. Simply see when some sort of unhappiness or resistance or desire arises which says you want more (or less) of something, and try turning it around. What would it be like to have or want the opposite in some way. Recognize who or what it is that is desiring that, and inquire into the very reality of that "I" which is desiring. Recognize that when there is no desiring, but rather a satisfaction with what is, then there is peace, and from peace comes happiness.

So, how to live happily, more or less? Try the opposite. It just might work.