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Seeking happiness or contentment based on temporary states or conditions can lead to an experience of changing moods that are fleeting and fragile. When we focus on the sensation of being, we tune into our true essence, our shared life that is radiant, pervasive, and unwavering.
We have been taught and conditioned to believe that rearranging and managing our life circumstances is the key to happiness. We work to increase income, status, and raise our social capital, in the hopes that it will bring us greater joy and a sense of peace. Advertisements provide us with a constant source of insecurities, needs and goals to be met that send us scurrying to work, then to the mall.
Beyond seeing to it that we have food, clothing, shelter and a social network, very little beyond those basic needs has anything at all to do with reaching a deep state of contentment. How do we know this?
It’s quite easy to look back throughout the history of humanity and see that amassing great power or accumulating wealth can be directly correlated with happiness or contentment. There are many examples of individuals, who accumulated massive wealth and fame who were, by their own accounts, apparently quite miserable and unfulfilled. Fame and fortune do not lead to happiness.
At the same time, when happiness is studied and measured, what we find is evidence that it has more to do with personal choices, creativity, and the very simple act of pausing our thinking long enough to allow the deep underlying current of the life force that permeates the universe to fill our awareness. We can call this Beingness.
Spiritual teachers throughout millennia have all talked about universal love and the feelings that come with simple Beingness, noticing the beauty of nature and acknowledging that you are also part of that beauty, because you are also nature. The act is so simple, yet we forget it’s available. Perhaps we think there must be more to it.
Why is it, when so many have studies happiness and contentment, that we still spend so much time and energy striving to achieve material wealth and social Capital? We have the tools, but how are we using them?
Imagine someone rushing through traffic in their very expensive car, discussing a business deal on their cell phone, late for their yoga class and now worried they won’t get a good spot near the teacher
It’s just as easy to treat spiritual practices as we treat our work, as things to accomplish. It would be hypocritical not to acknowledge that the relentless pursuit of spiritual or religious deeds is in any way different, when it comes to creating space for peace and contentment, than the relentless pursuit of fortune or fame. When we link our self-worth to any form of achievement, whether it be financial, social, or spiritual, we risk missing the entire point of a spiritual practice, which is to bring it us a greater sense of contentment and feeling of connectedness to all that is.
Any system that seeks to measure and label spiritual “levels,” creating a hierarchy based on performance or achievement, is a result of a false premise, which is: People must demonstrate the depth of their spiritual status by performing tasks that are observable and measurable.
When we realize and acknowledge that spirituality and contentment are not performance-based, we will be closer to our goal because we will have it cleared away so much of the clutter that is burying that which is readily available. Everyone has access to the same spiritual tools, regardless of location, of language, of economic or social status, of age or ability, or of any man made construct or system.
Just as the accumulation of things can lead to clutter, so can the accumulation of religious and spiritual practices lead to a burying of the awareness you may have of your true essence and birthright of joy and contentment. Spiritual and religious practices exist to help remind us of what we already possess. They are a map, not the destination.
The fact is, you have always been where you need to be. You have always have the tools you need to build the life you want and deserve. Like so many of us, you may have become distracted in the pursuit of things and achievement. However; it’s possible to achieve while also being aware that achievement is not related to your ability to deeply connect with the life force that drives everything in the universe.
What we all need to remember, is that contentment is not the result of achievement. You don’t achieve your way to contentment. Contentment is a by-product of Beingness.
Something you can try: Pause several times a day to notice beauty in the smallest of things. Wherever you are, notice the space and textures around you. See everything as a work of art. Feel the air around and inside your body. Notice how everything is connected to everything else. Feel the sensation of gravity hugging you towards the earth. Notice the light reflecting off of the various objects and illuminating the space. Tune into the sensation of Being and feel the energy of life emanating from within. Acknowledge this miracle. This moment is eternal and never ending. Right here, right now, you have everything you need to achieve a state of deep contentment. This is the universe. This is your temple. This is you.