Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Arrival, oil on canvas, 4 x 5', 1973-ish

Good advice, right? But how do you be happy? An effort of will? Probably, but still, how? Just flex those happy muscles? That’s one of the attractions of Tolle’s work, laying out as he does a method of cultivating what most people would accept as happiness or at least highly desirable, a state of peace… and joy. By joy I don’t mean the Joy-to-the-World of holiday Christmas carolers… or maybe I do, or maybe they do. Whatever, what I mean by it is the state of consciousness where one deeply experiences being. There is a feeling of novelty when one shifts over from mind-chatter to awareness which expands the deeper one goes into it, when one begins to realize the spectacular miracle of existence, of consciousness… joy seems an appropriate word to describe that feeling. Love is another, the feeling that accompanies realization of interconnectedness, of Oneness as the so-called mystics throughout history have noted.

No one sees the face of God and lives. That Old Testament Dylan line I believe comes out of scripture somewhere and expresses the fear one experiences when glimpsing depth-reality through the lens of the dominant paradigm of separation. Terror dissipates when one feels interconnectivity. Merely thinking it is just another belief, likely to be overruled by the inherited patriarchal assumption of separateness. I venture that when Christians say “Jesus loves you” This is what they mean, the experience of interconnectivity… just other words for it – not attractive to me because of all the baggage I bring to that but theoretically equivalent.


  1. Lately, I define happiness as contentment. I'm in a cloud of it now and have been more or less for about 2 years. I'm trying to be silent more, but it's almost impossible in this world. Silence deepens my contentment. In reading Buddhist thought, one of the beliefs is that humans suffer because we believe the self is solid and separate. I'm thinking about this a lot but I do not understand it. My artistic videos, photos and musings on my various daily emotions is an offshoot of this idea of the slippery self...not body, not feelings, not thoughts. Who's doing the thinking, Descartes might ask? I recently signed up for two spiritual weekends in Decatur. One is a women's weekend at St. Thomas More Church in early November, where I will attend a seminar there and sleep overnight in the Church with the intention of getting a deeper knowledge of Jesus.
    This definitely has baggage for me...I'm fearful of a weekend of born again Catholics, but like you said Tom, perhaps seeking Jesus is code for interconnectivity. Childhood years of Catholic guilt will open doors to past terrors I'm afraid, but I'm a cultural Irish Catholic to my bones.
    I also signed up for a weekend "Warrior 1" workshop in early December at the Buddhist Shambhala Center in Decatur–an intense intro to Buddhist thought (no sleepover). I want to immerse my contended solid self in two opposing spiritual worldviews that define my past and future.

  2. the journey you're contemplating via a return to catholicism and a buddhist intro,
    you need to do that i guess but there's a short-cut available... Echart Tolle's, A New Earth, or his Power of Now and the many videos on youtube.