We observe that sometimes we get carried away by our emotions. When things are going well, we are excited and which shows in our animated behavior. On the other hand, when things are not going well, that also shows as a relative heaviness in our behavior.
Most of us tend to spend our lives on one side of our emotions. Some people are always depressed no matter what the external situation is. They will always find something to complain about in the best of events. Psychologically, they are carrying a burden of expectations, ideals and thoughts which makes the surroundings heavy with anxiety and worry. Very rarely do these people experience carefree joy.
Then there are others who always want to have a positive attitude even if things are not going as per their expectations. They are always hoping that the future will bring better tidings and this is what helps them live.
While it may seem that the second way is advisable, a positive attitude does not imply psychological balance. Those who advocate positive attitude suffer equally as those who possess negative attitude.
Having any attitude – positive or negative – is like a crutch. It is a dependency. Real balance is when there is no attitude. One takes things as they are without differentiating the situation as being fine or not fine.
A person who is psychologically balanced does neither complain about the situation nor takes the help of a positive attitude to endure the situation. When you get involved in a situation, you lose balance. The only way to be balanced is not to get involved psychologically with anything or anyone. A high order indeed!
It is very normal to think that once I get something, I will be happy. Most people search for happiness in events and struggle to make those events happen.
While there is a certain pleasure and joy to be had when you get what you want, that is not real happiness. This is because, things do not remain the same. They change and when they do, you will lose the happiness you had.
Many people even lose the sense of joy when they get what they want because they have been struggling so hard to get that that they are emotionally drained and cannot feel any joy at all.
Real happiness is something totally different. It is not dependent on anything external. When a person discovers this happiness, it is totally irrelevant whether there is food to eat or house to stay or money to spend.
This happiness can only be discovered when one sees the insubstantial and hollow nature of worldly achievements and possessions. It is through this sense of emptiness that one can get in touch with what is real. When you throw away all that is false, what remains has to be the genuine.
We all strive for security in life – we want good education in the hope of securing a high paying job, we invest money in property and funds so that we can secure our future, we save money for our children’s education and marriage, we buy insurance for safeguarding our family against accident and death.
Insecurity is caused by fear. Deep down there is an unconscious fear, a certain insecurity which drives us to do these things. But we never question it or investigate it.
Insecurity must be understood at two levels. One is the inherent insecurity of life. Everything is impermanent; nature is in a constant state of flux. Seasons change, we grow old, we fall ill, we die. There is nothing we can do to prevent this.
Since we are born, we must grow old and die one day. The uncertainty is when and how we die, not whether we die. Even if there are tremendous advances in medical science, nothing can prevent death. So this is the basic level of insecurity in life which will never go away – whatever your job, position, bank balance, and health is.
The second level of insecurity arises from people trying to find more security in life for themselves and their families. This is the insecurity most of us are caught in. We all want to be settled in a job earning a monthly income and saving for the future. We also keep trying to find more ways to earn additional income such as changing jobs, investing in shares and real estate and so on.
We think of our future, then our children’s future and then our grand children’s future. All this thinking creates more insecurity and we strive harder to acquire more property and money – all with an underlying sense of panic, thinking what will happen in the future.
Even if we are not driven by family concerns we are simply driven by competition – by looking at what others are doing around us and wanting to do better than them. The more people we see running after property and wealth, the more insecure we become and strive harder, increasing the insecurity. This is a vicious cycle.
Whereas the first level of insecurity is natural and cannot be eliminated, the other is created by us, is totally unnecessary and is the root of all evil actions, cheating and corruption in the world.
In order to full grasp the first level of insecurity, one must see through the illusory insecurity and stop acting in a manner which increases that insecurity.
When one is free of the man made insecurity by not chasing after symbols of security such as property and wealth, one can then tackle the original insecurity of life i.e. death.
Finally, when even this level of insecurity is penetrated to its roots by discovering what you truly are, you can be free of all fear.
It is so natural to think and imagine that tomorrow will be better than today. Aren’t we all planning for something or thinking of something that is going to happen sometime in the future? Maybe we are looking forward to a vacation. Maybe we are looking forward to getting married or having children. Maybe we are looking forward to a promotion in our job. On a daily scale, we look forward to the party at night or the meeting in the afternoon or even the cricket match on television.
Looking forward to a pleasant event causes anticipation of joy and excitement. Similarly, looking forward to an unpleasant event causes anxiety or fear. Have you even watched the process of looking forward to? Doesn’t it involve a lot of imagination born out of memory of past experiences or what information you have heard and gathered?
For instance, if you are looking forward to a vacation to a place you have never been to, do you not imagine what you will do or what you expect to find there based on the stories and experiences related by others who have been to that place before? Do you not imagine how happy you are going to be there or what experiences you are going to have there?
But what happens in reality? You might not have the exact same experiences when you visit that place? Many things might not be as you imagined they would be. That leads to frustration and anger. You blame those people who recommended that place to you. Even if you find most things as you imagined, you are unable to enjoy completely because the mind is filled with ideas about the place and is constantly comparing your actual experience with your imaginations.
To take another example, you might be looking forward to your exam results. You remember what other people commented on your results the last time and you start imagining what people’s reactions will be if you get poor results or better results than last time. All this imagination causes anxiety to build up.
Is it possible not to look forward to anything? Some people might say that it will make for a dull life where there is no hope and no future. But look at it in another way. What happens when you are not lost in the thoughts of what is going to happen tomorrow? Are you not fully in the present?
The present moment is all there is. Imagination prevents your direct contact with the present moment. That is the reason why you do not experience anything even during the experience because the mind is busy in imaginations, comparisons, anger and frustrations.
Things are changing so rapidly that to experience the present moment requires your complete attention and energy but when energy is sapped in imagination about what is going to happen, one misses the moment and its beauty.
Therefore, do not look forward to anything – near or far, pleasant or unpleasant. When you are able to do this and remain in the moment, you will discover something totally unexpected. And it is the totally unexpected which has the quality of genuine happiness.