The deeper I go down this road of meditation, the less affected I am by stories. The more my peace and happiness comes from within, so to speak, and the more my contentment comes from the ‘I am’ presence, which never changes, the less I’m inclined to pursue or even worry about many of the things I see others caught up in. There are many states of conscious which human life is filled with, but I find them all inferior to the peace and inner happiness of inner silence.
I never was all that into movies, even when I was young, but now I’m hardly interested in them at all. Take the other day. I loaded up Netflix and decided to watch the first Rocky movie again. I remember seeing it as a kid and it brought back some childhood memories. Many feel it’s the best of the series. For those who haven’t seen it, Rocky is a “nobody”, working as a loan shark collector, spending his spare time in the gym training as a boxer. By some auspicious circumstances, he gets a chance to fight Apollo Creed, the heavyweight champion of the world. This is his big shot, his chance to prove to the world that he’s got what it takes, his chance to leave a life of poverty and become “something”. He trains hard, goes the distance with the champ (he doesn’t get knocked out), and the movie ends with Rocky standing strong at the end of fifteen rounds, toe to toe with the champ, face beaten to a pulp, screaming, “I did it Adrian!”, and his wife Adrian running to his side yelling “I love you.”
As I watched the movie, all I wanted to do is sit with Rocky and ask him, are you really nobody, or is this just an idea you entertain in your mind? And where did this idea come from? Why do you entertain it? Will becoming the champion really change anything, other than how you perceive yourself in your own mind? He felt he needed to prove himself, but to who? His wife Adrian didn’t care. She would love him anyway. The ordinary folks of Philadelphia, where Rocky is from, outside of wanting an entertaining fight to help them escape from their day to day lives, they’re not thinking about Rocky, at least not regularly. When you spend time meditating, and become aware of why you’re doing what you’re doing, it all seems ridiculous.
Ramana Maharshi taught me that happiness and peace are our nature. That’s what we are at our core if our mind is silent, but when we get caught up in these false self identities, that peace and happiness is masked over. Rocky is self-identifying with being “nobody”, so now his peace is snapped away from him. Standing toe to toe with the champ wasn’t what made Rocky happy at the end of the movie. His real nature is peace. When he finally got a chance to prove himself, to himself, all that happened was that he was temporarily relieved from the torment that his own mind was putting him through. When his mind was satisfied with this false idea he had of himself, this idea that he’s tough, and could go the distance, and had what it takes, then his mind finally subsided, and he felt his inner nature shine through again. But was all that necessary? He could feel that peace all the time if he just gave up the idea that he is a nobody. Give up all these illusory self conceptions. They’re not real. You don’t have to fight the champ, beat yourself up, worry your wife that you’ll be permanently injured for the rest of you life, or anything like that. You see how this works? You believe that you’re nobody, and now you have to overcome this idea that you inflicted on yourself.
When I look around me, almost everyone I see is filled with these illusory self-conceptions. It causes so much misery in the world, to themselves and to others.
Let’s keep talking about movies. Consider romance movies. You’ll see some man or woman trying to impress someone they’re interested in, all because they believe happiness comes from this romance and love. So much energy is spent searching for something we all already have. This entire dynamic is also all in the mind. You believe that you’re lonely, you believe that you need companionship, that you need all these things from other people, etc., and you make it true. But there is no such thing as loneliness. It’s an imagined construct, and what misery you feel from it is self-inflicted. You believe that this person or that will make you happy, and then you become upset when you’re not loved in return. You struggle with feelings of inadequacy, thinking you’re not good enough, that you’re boring, unlovable, etc.
But assuming you find love, happiness does not come from the other person, it comes from within. Silence the mind and you’ll be comfortable no matter who you’re around, and you won’t be pulled around by all these desires any longer. You won’t need anyone’s presence to feel at home, or happy, etc., but if you’re with someone you love (you’ll begin to love everyone equally), go ahead, love them, it’ll be easier to do than ever before. There will be so much new-found space within you, once that self-conception dies, you’ll be ready to give and love like never before. What will leave you is burden of all the things you always thought you needed to be happy. You don’t need someone to praise you everyday, telling you how wonderful you are. You don’t need someone to tell you that you’re beautiful. You don’t need someone to sit with you at night to keep you company, or someone to listen to your problems, or someone to spend your days with. If someone is there, that’s fine, but none of it is required to be fulfilled and content with your life.
But people don’t believe that. They get jealous and angry when someone leaves them, or disappoints them, or lets them down. They feel they can’t enjoy the things they formerly enjoyed unless this other person is present. First they believe that this or that is necessary for their happiness, and then when that something, whatever it may be, is taken away, that’s when they get resentful. “I need you to be happy and you left me!” “I can’t do this without you”, “I can’t enjoy this without you”. Or worse, the other person dies, and then this anger and resentment is then passed onto whatever power they feel governs the universe. They carry these imagined infractions along with them in memory, conjuring up misery in their own minds. They drag it all with them, and for what?
However, the illusions of the mind can take you in the other direction as well, feeling others are stealing your joy and must cease to exist in order for you to happy. They’re ruining everything. If only they weren’t here! Enter the world of special cliques, pride, and snobbish behavior. Nobody else is good enough for this imagined “you”. Or maybe you’re religious or spiritual and view these others as “impure”, “sinners”, something to be avoided. Or you go on the dating scene and nobody makes the cut, they’re all a bore, nobody is worthy of your presence! You’re not happy in any job or situation. You’re better than the job you’re in, they’re lucky you tolerate them! The mind now has to spend a great amount of energy to find ways to avoid those unworthy of your presence. That’s when you’ve lost touch with your true nature within. Only pain can bring you home.
Ultimately memory is the source of fear and desire. A person remembers something painful or pleasurable, and then they self-identify with a thought stream and project these memories out into the future. The original source of joy came unasked for, unplanned, a gift from the universe. You were just living life, exploring, and came across something or someone, and you had a good time. But then people make a mistake. They come to believe this or that is the source of their joy, but it’s not. These beliefs soon become a prison of their own making. They believe this person, this situation, this type of activity is necessary for their happiness, etc. Life just isn’t worth experiencing if these things aren’t present. For example, they believe this career path is required to experience happiness at work, this or that possession must be present in order for them to feel at home, this friend must be with them in order to enjoy this or that activity, etc. Now life becomes harder and harder because the mind has to juggle all these often conflicting desires, needs, and wants. This inner strife becomes draining and painful. The mind becomes very busy, filled with chaotic thoughts, consumed with protecting all of these imagined fountains of joy, trying to keep things as they were and have been, or attempting to create things they imagine will make them happy. Also, as each one of these fountains dries up or is destroyed, the mind is filled with pain and sorrow. I NEED this, I NEED that, I’ll do ANYTHING to feel happy, loved, and content! But everything in this world comes and goes, mainly because the universe is ready to share something new with you. But instead of letting the flow continue, you get in your own way. The universe gave you joys unasked for and unplanned initially, why can it not do so again? Have faith.
I suppose I could elaborate a little on these mental prisons. Say you believe you need a big, beautiful home in order to enjoy life. This is how mental prisons are constructed. Consider what happens when you can no longer afford the beautiful home? Or what if you’re stuck doing work you hate in order to afford the big home? Or what if your partner leaves you and you cannot afford the home on your own? Or maybe you married someone you didn’t love because they had money and could provide these things you felt you needed to be happy? Now you’re doubting whether you made the right decision. You’ve created conflicts within yourself and your mind spends all this effort and energy juggling and prioritizing these supposed needs and desires. You hate your partner for leaving you because they stole your home, the source of your joy, but you don’t want to be a hateful person because this doesn’t align with your value system. So now these mental conflicts are building up. You’ve told yourself you have these imagined dreams, but you’re not doing anything toward making them reality, and those very thoughts make you hate your current job (which is stealing your time), but you want to be positive and give others joy (isn’t that also your dream?), but you don’t feel you’re doing that so you’re disappointed with yourself. These illusions just go on and on on and on. Then you think, oh, why am I stuck working in a job I hate in order to have the things I need to be happy! Woe is me! Life is so unfair! If only I were rich, like the celebrities and superstars! You then create imagined compromises, the supposed work/life balance. You’re jealous over what others have. Angry about how this or that turned out. You regret decisions that you’ve made, wondering if some other path could’ve brought certain advantages, joys, and other forms of abundance into your life. None of it is real. Inner silence will give you what you’re after, and you can live a lot more simply.
This video from Mooji really resonates with me. He reflects on all of these sorts of things, these elements of our stories, and he tells us, “It’s nothing, nothing, nothing.” It’s the same conclusion I’ve came to. He continues to pass on the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. I believe he helps a lot of people.
Everywhere I look, people are searching for some form of acknowledgment from others, seeking accomplishments, or hoping someone will notice them, accept them, praise them, think they’re wonderful, find them interesting, let them be the source of all joy. This sort of needy behavior creates so much misery in the world. It’s all rooted in confusions of the mind. You don’t need any of it. But you hear people all the time, complaining, how come “I” didn’t get the little plaque on the wall, saying I’m the most valuable employee! How come “I” am not desired, while all these other inferior people get the things that I want! How come “I” wasn’t addressed with the proper honorifics?! Don’t you know how hard I worked to get where I am? Praise me, respect me, honor me! Me, me, me! I hear all this and think, “It’s nothing, nothing, nothing.”
This is why I don’t listen to music much anymore. Every song is filled with this silliness. I was in the gym the other day and heard this song, “Look mom, I made it!” Now my peers acknowledge me (not much different from Rocky). Look at me, I have all the girls, all the money, I’m successful! Woohoo, look at me! What, you’re not looking? WHY AREN’T YOU LOOKING AND ADMIRING ME! Then you come to the next song, so and so left me, she’ll regret it! Half of the song is filled with subtle forms of revenge. Then the next song, oh she loves me, how happy I am now that she’s with me. Once again, nothing, nothing, nothing. I just hope they one day realize they’re creating prisons for themselves, locking away their own happiness, happiness which is with them right here, right now.
I was trying to communicate all of this to a person who left a comment on my blog the other day. If you meditate and give up all of these illusory self-conceptions, these projections, etc., realizing that that they aren’t necessary for happiness, all of the mental noise associated with it goes away. Your life becomes more simplistic on its own. Your mind becomes quiet on its own, simply by realizing this. You just have to become aware that happiness isn’t in any of these things. You just have to see this inner nature within, feel it, experience it. Feel the unconditional joy, the unconditional peace. Know it, firsthand. That’s all that’s needed, the rest happens on its own. The anger, the regrets, the constant plotting and scheming to make affairs how you believe they should be, it all just goes away. This takes with it 95% of the suffering people go through in this life. It took away practically all suffering I knew of. Almost all suffering is emotional in nature. Most of us have plenty to eat, we have a roof over our heads, and we’re able to get by. The rest of our struggles are imagined, and there’s no end to those. Seek silence. In that new found silence, you’ll find a simple joy that’s unconditional. You’ll see things you never used to see before, you’ll be open to the new things life wants to give you, instead of being caught up in what was before.
This same person asked if I have any motivation to do much of anything anymore. Do I just sit, idle, doing nothing? Would I ever exert effort to achieve something whenever I have this unconditional peace within? Mooji answers this question in the following video.
In my case, I continue to pursue physics, but I spend my time pursuing the physics topics I enjoy for their own sake. I research the things that truly interest me. I do not seek awards, recognition, or other ego traps. There was a career path others were trying to push me down, wanting me to crank out papers that meant nothing to me, doing “respectable” research, and all of that sort of thing, but I just hopped off the train because there was no point to it. There was a purification within me. There’s a more authentic expression within, done without aspiring, without chasing, without needing a particular result, finding, or way things should be. I also don’t consider myself a physicist. It’s like Mooji says, if a king spends an afternoon in the garden, does that make him a gardener? No. In the same way, I’m not a physicist. I’m not a scientist. I’m beyond labels. I’d also be fine doing any other kind of work. Just the other day I helped a friend frame his house. I found it really interesting, then I was reading up on carpentry and construction, and watching Youtube videos on home renovation. But wait, I’m a physicist, I’m not supposed to do work like that. Who says? A newfound joy came unasked, unplanned, so I go down that road and explore it. I’m free of stories.