by E. Raymond Rock
When we become upset, our first inclination is to escape whatever it is that upsets us. Sometimes it’s easy, we simply move away from it. Other times, not so easy. When a loved one dies, it’s not always easy to move away from the loneliness and memories.
We eventually find ways to relieve our discontent, however, little escapes where we can be happy again, although we never seem to be as happy as we once were. The shock remains with us for a long time, and it changes us.
We might read books suggesting that positive thinking will solve our problems – that we can get whatever we desire in life, but in the end, happiness seems as fleeting as the morning mist, and our cherished desires turn into liabilities. So we move relentlessly from one escape to another until we physically or mentally can’t escape any longer.
The secret to happiness has escaped us once more, and eventually we don’t know what to do. This is the point when we become vulnerable to addictions, suicide, self-destructive attitudes, simply because all the books we have read never revealed the real secret.
We have been seeking our entire lives, all of us in different ways but never finding that which we truly seek. We have tried relationships, careers, stuff (cars, boats, homes, clothes, wealth), traveling, creating – and yet . . . something is missing. And a time comes when we no longer feel joy or passion, everything seems to be spinning out of control. All of our books and religious doctrines taste a little bland, we feel disaffected, lost. Life loses its meaning, and we find ourselves only marking time, wondering why we have lived so long – and for what?
Now there is nothing to think positively about. The pursuits of our youth are no more than fantasies played out on a stage where the scenery changes but the character’s lines drone on endlessly. It’s all so predictable now, and we wonder what’s wrong with us.
No longer are we interested in putting new ideas into action; we have gone there, and in the end all action ends up the same – it ends, and because we don’t understand the real secret, our life is over as we settle into some routine of life that will comfort us a little until we die.
We just don’t yet understand the secret, because the secret is only available to those that stop running from it. The secret is that life, itself, can never sustain happiness. We might try for an entire lifetime to refute this, but in the end we will find that this is true. When we begin to get intimations of this tremendous secret and understand its validity, then there is a surrender, and only then is true happiness possible. This is a secret as well, that happiness begins when our suffering becomes so great that a natural understanding kicks in, and our unrealistic illusions of life begin to be seen through. Here is the real freedom; here is the authentic release that saves us from disaster.
The secret is to go deeply into the unsatisfactory-ness of life and not run from it. Only then will that which is beyond life, beyond existence become known. When this Reality becomes recognized, then any happiness we might have previously experienced in life seems as child’s play. This Reality is so powerful that a tremendous passion builds, and our entire experience of life changes. We become something that we could have never dreamed of.
There are no books to tell us how to do this, no instructions to follow, as instructions and books are only further escapes that keep us imprisoned. This time we have to go it alone and face what we have been running from all our lives – the truth. Finding the real secret for ourselves is not easy, but we can do it. Meditation or contemplative prayer are not systems or techniques, just ways to sit quietly without escaping.
And these are the keys to the real secret.
Copyright Â© E. Raymond Rock 2007. All rights reserved.
E. Raymond Rock of Fort Myers, Florida is cofounder and principal teacher at the Southwest Florida Insight Center (SouthwestFloridaInsightCenter.com). His twenty-eight years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents, including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk. His book, A Year to Enlightenment (Career Press/New Page Books) is now available at major bookstores and online retailers (AYearToEnlightenment.com).