I would like to share some of the following assumptions drawn from various mystical types.
Let’s assume that you are better than you think and more than you realize. If this is true then ignorance is the obstacle that needs to be overcome. Nearly all of us are living under the spell of a mistaken identity. We don’t know the truth about ourselves or others.
I have spoken at times of a light in the soul that is uncreated and uncreatable. To the extent that we can deny ourselves and turn away from created things, we shall find our unity and blessing in that little spark in the soul, that neither space nor time touches. Meister Eckhart
We all need joy in our lives but in order to have joy in our own lives we must bring joy to the lives of others--there is no other way. Easwaran
Things should be as simple as possible, but not simpler. Einstein
Augustine claimed the reason for unhappiness (lack of joy) was this: “Why are men not happy? Because they are much more concerned about things that have more power to make them unhappy than truth does to make them happy, in that they remember truth so slightly.”
So, much of this ignorance is due to our lack of interest in truth because other things have gained our attention and occupied our thoughts. We waste our vital energy pursuing things outside of ourselves. We just don’t know how to get to the treasure within.
The mind goes where it likes and drags the body around with it, so sure that it knows how to isolate pleasure and avoid pain. But no one yet has been able to go after selfish pleasure and avoid the inevitable painful consequences.
So why don’t we just do the right thing without being pushed into it? Again, we are ignorant to what we really are. We simply do not know how to train this unruly mind to find truth and then stick to it.
The Buddha tells us that our life is shaped by our mind. We become what we think. And that sorrow follows an evil thought like the wheels of a cart follow the ox that draws it. And on the positive side, joy follows a pure thought like a shadow that never leaves.
Ultimately an untrained mind cannot help but do harm and a well trained mind with discrimination cannot help but do good. Whether it is meditation or the prayer of contemplation, it appears that inner disciplines are necessary to train the mind.
Joy is imprisoned within us, just waiting to be released from the jailer, our selfish desires. Easwaran
My assumption then is that the goal of life is to become established in joy and inner peace and the path to do this is selfless service and spiritual disciplines like meditation or interior prayer that will slow down the thinking process, then direct it to a higher goal and ultimately still the mind for the good of the whole. Another way of saying this is that the old man has to die before the new man (the real you) can be born.
The New Testament tell us that “He who loses his life, for my sake, shall find it.” The Dalai Llama frames it “Our primary reason for being here is to help others. And if you can’t do that, please don’t hurt them.” And the ever practical Peace Pilgrim counsels us, “Live in the present. Do what needs to be done. Do all the good you can each day, not forgetting the importance of a cheerful greeting and a friendly smile. The future will unfold.” And her golden rule formula for spiritual growth was, “Overcome evil with good and falsehood with truth and hatred with love.”
I hope that this short piece abides by Einstein’s principle of being as simple as possible, but not simpler.
Cusco Writers Guild
July 13, 2017