One particular thing holds us back from true happiness: It's that we can't identify with deep consciousness, which is the true nature of self. Instead, we over identify with the ego and with all of our material possessions.
Certain things that aren’t as complex hold us back from happiness as well. They include our philosophies about the world and what we perceive to be our vision of happiness. For example, we may believe that we can achieve happiness only if we accomplish certain goals such as getting married, owning a home, being very wealthy, or being comfortable.
If we don't engage in deep meditative practices after we accomplish such goals, we will be at risk of worrying about keeping the things that we have. And when that's the case, our happiness will be lessened to some degree.
We're trained to feel happy only when the objects of our desire are within our reach. This is the way of the modern world. But we’ve also inherited this from the ancient world—misconceptions about what we need to bring us happiness have always been part of the human condition. Realizing that we shouldn't have inappropriate attachments to things other than the bare necessities of life can be difficult.
Many ancient people were aware of the risks of having the wrong attachments. They understood that having the wrong attachments would lead people to despair, and they taught practices in self-mastery to help people avoid that.
I personally believe that the key to happiness is for one to awaken their mind to the higher consciousness that they (and all of us) possess. This consciousness knows the difference between itself and the egos that we build up in our lives. The higher consciousness is connected to the divine. When individuals connect to the divine through higher consciousness, they don't have to be taught about what's occurring, and they exist in a blissful state.
Yet we can all fall out of the grace of the knowledge of divine oneness: We then fall away from intuitive understandings of the mechanics of this universe, how things came to be, and how material things will eventually come to pass. And we also struggle and fight with ourselves when such falling away occurs.
Those who don’t feel the presence of higher consciousness can't understand how their lack of awareness makes them susceptible to many types of suffering. And we should make it our highest priority to reach higher consciousness in this lifetime so that we can end our own patterns of suffering. The highest things that we can achieve on this planet are to end our own suffering and cease our causing suffering in others.
Having said that, I don't think that the complete end of suffering can occur, because we humans have to destroy something with every breath and every step that we take. Yet when our bodies perish, they will go back into the earth. This is the law of reciprocity in nature: What one takes they must one day give back.
Hallelujah! If you're awake, then shout and cry Hallelujah that you've figured this out. Many people are trying to open their consciousness but haven't quite gotten there yet, even though they may sense that they're close to accomplishing that goal.
I'd like to offer some simple instructions on how to wake up the mind. You can get to a certain point by following such instruction, but later you will have to rely on your own intuition and resources. When that happens, asking others how to go deeper might interfere.
There are various methods to achieving what I call “cracking open the egg of the consciousness.” One such technique involves some actions that some people both consider to be boring and have doubts about whether the work involved will benefit them: The child ego mind is the entity that considers the activity to be boring, and the ignorance of an individual is the entity that doesn't believe that their work will pay off. Anyone who seeks to practice the technique I'm about to describe will need to fight those two entities.
The technique is so powerful that it’s been kept a secret for tens of thousands of years. It was available to noted scholars, emperors, kings, princesses, military generals, and the great females of many societies. It was not meant to be exclusively available to either men or women, and it was not reserved for people who were wealthy and powerful. I'm hesitant to even mention the name of the technique, for fear that the devil might split my tongue for speaking it. So I'll just mention it once: The technique is called meditation.
On second thought, please disregard what I said in the previous paragraph. I've been informed that meditation was discovered by human beings a few hundred years ago, and it was then and is now common knowledge. And neither you nor I will be punished for saying the word, as might have been the case about 300 years ago in some countries.
Meditation and prayer are both practices that are beneficial to anyone who seeks to attain higher consciousness. But contrary to the belief of some, meditation and prayer are not synonymous. If one takes the concept of divinity out of the word “prayer,” prayer can be a psychological tool that will help him or her with strengthening their will or developing their character.
It's likely that the things we chant about, pray about, or put into our minds are the things that will materialize. There are limits to that concept, though: You can't jump out of an airplane from 13,000 feet without a parachute and expect to live. Yet you can pray for priceless things. You can pray to change your perspective, you can pray for understanding, you can pray for acceptance, and you can pray about how to understand love. And you can also pray to get the ability and the stamina to work hard to achieve things.
In a nutshell, meditation is sitting quietly with the self and concentrating on only one specific thing. And that's not always easy to do in the beginning. When we start off practicing meditation, our minds are likely to race all over the place. Our minds will go from problem to problem, from memory to memory, to the words of a song we heard yesterday, or to a war being fought somewhere.
Our minds will gravitate towards our preferences. We might be saying to ourselves, “I think she's attractive,” “He's a nice person,” “I don't like the color blue,” “I love chocolate,” “It's hot,” “It's cold,” “It's three o'clock,” or “I'm hungry.” Our minds are trained to dwell on such things.
This begs the question of when our minds started functioning. Did they start functioning at birth? At conception? Or perhaps before any of us were even sperm cells?
Our minds begin thinking when we take our first breath. At that moment, we are thinking about extraordinarily simple things that we can't define yet. We then accumulate memories second by second, and then with every second we build additional memories.
As we mature, our thoughts become more complex. We start to learn body language and sign language from our elders. Then we learn a great many other things. We learn words, we learn to identify food, we learn how to play, and we learn how to use tools. And we learn about threats that exist in our environment—things such as fire, an aggressive animal, or a car coming down the street. We’ll learn skills such as riding a bicycle or drawing things. We'll learn the names of colors, the names of our siblings and friends, the names of objects, and many, many more things.
The more stuff there is to figure out, the more we're going to be distracted from thinking about who we are, what we're doing here, and how simple many very important things are. The more we think about things that are essentially erroneous, the more we’ll likely entangle ourselves in the common sources of suffering.
Another thing that will lead to suffering is mental activity associated with abuses, negative experiences, and traumas of various kinds that occurred during childhood: Such experiences become trapped in our minds.
As we age, we will have a great many problems that we have to figure out or face up to. And how we go about that will depend on things such as the prevailing beliefs of our society regarding how to do so. At the time of this writing (2023), the vast majority of the world's people are taught to seek happiness from sources outside of themselves: They're taught to do things such as accumulate possessions and achieve primarily selfish goals if they are to consider themselves successful.
Yet that mindset is true to a certain degree. People need to provide necessities such as food and shelter for themselves and their families. And one measure of their success should be their ability to pass on knowledge about things such as healthy foods and medicines (especially plant medicines).
Another measure of our success should be how we view the animals that we share the planet with. We should realize that all creatures—not only humans—are the masters of this planet. The human being certainly is a powerful spirit animal. Humans possess the highest consciousness of earth's creatures, as well as self-awareness, free will, and a state of having transcended pure instinct.
Regarding instinct, most animals on this planet are purely instinctual. They can only change their collective consciousness when all of them change simultaneously in accordance with the dictates of nature. But we humans can change consciousness as individual creatures, and by doing so we can alter nature either in a positive or negative way.
This is an incredible power, and it’s a power that should be used wisely: We should consider ourselves the servants of all creatures and have our head bowed in reverence to all of nature. We can help nature evolve positively. When creatures suffer it's our duty to lend a helping hand to them. And it's our duty to create positive energy in order to expand consciousness.
Taking this concept a bit further, all conscious creatures on this planet have a collective mission to maintain such consciousness and transmit the positivity of it to the divine. We can understand that consciousness in the cosmic realm is primarily seeking more consciousness. And the more that consciousness is expanded, the more there is understanding of things that go on infinitely and likely go on in an infinite number of universes. What happens at all levels is awareness of consciousness, and that is the most powerful influencer of all of the forces of nature.
I digress, and I’ll go back to the topic of achieving happiness through the practice of meditation. Imagine that I could kick a soccer ball very powerfully all the way across a soccer field, and you came to me as a student wishing to learn how to kick like that. I’d then tell you that I could teach you to kick that well but that you'd have to practice quite a lot.
You might come to the field the first day, kick the ball, and almost completely miss it. The second day you might come to the field, kick the ball dead on, and it would go 60 feet with five feet maximum trajectory into the air. Then, after coming to the field for a full year, on day 365 you might be able to kick the ball 268 feet, at the speed of 86 MPH with the ball at 73 feet maximum trajectory off of the ground. You’d have become skillful because you listened to your teacher’s instructions and practiced daily.
Improving mental skills is much the same. To work on character development, personality traits, proper mindsets, effective thought processes, and other such things, it's necessary to both receive good instruction and practice skills to better yourself. However, it will be much harder to see the results of your work in mental and emotional development than it is to see improvement in skills such as sports.
A master of meditation does not necessarily have to be the best practitioner in the world to teach someone else how to meditate properly. A master just needs to be good at it—just good enough to help someone else. Such a teacher must know various techniques, mean well, and lead by example. A good teacher must be a compassionate citizen of the world to a degree that the student would want to emulate him or her. And the student should not be concerned with the wealth, good looks, or number of followers that a teacher has (or doesn't have).
Two things are particularly important about the character of teachers. Good teachers should not allow students to consider them to be godlike, uniquely divine creatures who are better than other people. And good teachers should not charge a great deal of money for their services or buy luxurious items with the money that their students give them.
Following is an example of how an interchange between a great teacher and a student might transpire:
The teacher says, “In order to find happiness, you have to relax the mind and be able to control it.”
The student then asks, “Who is getting control over my mind? Isn't my mind just one thing?”
The teacher then replies, “The mind is many things at one time. But two simple things that the mind consists of are the lower mind in the upper mind.
“The lower mind is completely ensnared and convinced that all things in the material world are absolute and real. The lower mind convinces itself that things can remain the same somehow. It clings to superfluous things—it chases after things that make us uncomfortable and unhappy, but it still believes that those things are keys to liberation and freedom.
“But we shouldn't judge people whose minds function in that way—We shouldn't judge others for wherever they're at in their minds. Instead, we should gently lure them into their liberation for the good of all things.”
When a teacher attempts to encourage others to achieve liberation, he or she shouldn't do so in pursuit of power, property, prestige, fame, or accolades. A teacher who is motivated by those things will be prone to delusion and suffering over time.
What are some of the circumstances under which consciousness expansion can occur? They include the passing of time, the experience of an individual, the wisdom that the individual adheres to, and good teachings that are received.
But a primary vehicle for consciousness expansion is the practice of meditation, and there are two significant roadblocks that a person embracing meditation must get over. One of them is the belief that meditation is some sort of esoteric discipline that is only beneficial to extremely devoted practitioners. And the other is the belief that meditation is foolish and a waste of time: That misconception is particularly prevalent among those in the West who are caught up in the world's distractions more so than others are.
It's crucial to view the expansion of consciousness as an intellectual practice. And such an understanding of consciousness expansion in general and meditation in particular should make pursuing those things particularly appealing to people of scientific and modern mindsets.
Meditation and consciousness expansion can help people in such a way that they can be more effective in obtaining material things. And that can be either good or bad depending on the circumstances. It's certainly warranted for compassionate people to live their lives more effectively, and engaging in such practices can help them do so.
Yet it's a tragic fact of life that people will misuse the benefits that they receive through consciousness expansion and meditation. A person who expands consciousness might become able to do things such as compose and perform beautiful music or write bestselling materials on health and wellness topics. But they may misuse the wealth and power that comes to them in the process. Even worse, some people will use their expanded consciousness to destroy things or to kill.
Saying this is not intended to be a judgment against any individual. Rather it's a statement of the fact that consciousness expansion is misused by many who have been corrupted and perverted by a society that is itself corrupt and perverted.
When the prevalent mindsets of society are that only the strong survive and that each individual should strive for himself or herself above all else, problems are to be expected. When we as individuals and families isolate ourselves from our neighbors, our neighbors will echo the lack of concern for anyone but themselves. They’ll likely attempt to take over our neighborhoods and drive us out.
So, we must understand that being good citizens of the world entails that we also be good citizens of our own communities. We must be activists who strive for compassion and truth. Throughout the world, at various places and times (including the present day), it has been dangerous for people to speak their minds about such things. You should be grateful if you have freedom of speech, and you should use that right carefully and compassionately but with boldness.
It will be of tremendous value to you if you use meditation to help you get direction regarding this and many other matters. And it's simple to begin the practice. Just get to your yoga mat or your meditation towel, or just lay flat on your wood floor at home if you prefer. Then, breathe, look up at the ceiling, and say to yourself (either verbally or out loud), “I am meditating now.”
When you're done with your period of meditation, you should stand up, resume whatever work you're involved in, and declare to yourself that you were previously in a meditation session. Then, you should simply try to stay in the present moment and go about your chosen activity. As you do, you might find your mind drifting to thoughts that don't benefit you. When that happens, you can consciously bring yourself back to the thoughts and actions that are pertinent to the chosen task of the present moment.
As you persist in meditation, your consciousness will begin to expand. And when that happens, you’ll become more aware of childhood issues and different dramas that occurred throughout your life. At that point, negative feelings may come up and create turbulence within you. You must become aware of it, and you must persist with the healing process. If you don't persist with such healing, negative feelings can overwhelm you.
This bears repeating: You must persist in your meditation practices and must always live your life motivated by compassion. And you should do many other positive things as well. Find the best teachers that you can. Spend a lot of time writing about life. Spend time doing simple tasks that will help others.
Finally, practice gratitude continuously. Feel gratitude about the fact that you are breathing and experiencing life right now. Write about your gratitude. Perhaps you're not feeling gratitude to the degree that you should. If that's the case, then you should pray for the feeling of gratitude. You can even convince yourself that you have gratitude, and after a certain amount of time the feeling of gratitude will come to you. And if you have gratitude, then happiness will follow.