The dreamer is in no position to judge what is real or who is awake. The first task of the dreamer is to awaken and of the judge is to make sure the evidence is admissible. Everything else is a kangaroo court of suffering.
Imagine being put in a box. Is it a small prison cell? Is it so small that you cannot move, a torture technique out of the middle ages or some 9/11 black site of torture? Imagine dying, and being reborn in the same box. Imagine a life that is a dying and an awakening and a dying again, a Groundhog Day of suffering.
What would freedom mean, in this circumstance? Would release from the cycle, physical death constitute freedom? Would being released from the box by outside forces, returning to the life we had before the box be freedom? Or is freedom taking the experience of the box and using it for transformation, to become something more than what we were before?
Coffin, cage or cocoon. Choose one.
Make one person happy. Ideally, the one before you, in this moment. Listen. Understand their story, if you can. But, never more than one, and don’t have it be the focus of all your energy. You cannot make other people happy. We can choose to be happy, ourselves. In others, we can only help create the conditions. In then end, they must choose, and in some conditions, it’s an impossible choice. The crucified are never happy. The only option is for their suffering to end.
I was reading another one of those end of year life hack articles yesterday, about how changing one word can change your attitude toward obligations. The crux: instead of saying, “I have to wake up to go to work at 0600,” you change it to get, “I get to wake up to go to work at 0600.”
This simple substitution changes your attitude toward what you are doing. It is now phrased in terms of an opportunity. It makes you wonder what kind of changes would happen by reframing traditional ideas in a positive fashion.
Instead of a Ten Commandments of “Thou shall not kill” you could reframe it in a positive, “Thou shall be peaceful and help all living beings flourish.” The words we use create our worldview.
This is an important point. Our attitudes, our opinions, our ways of looking at the world are created whole cloth in our minds. They don’t exist out there in the world. They exist only in our minds. Ideas are exchanged between minds through symbols. It is our acceptance of them that gives them the appearance of being real.
In Buddhism, this is the fundamental problem of life. The mind creates fictions. We believe that we are our thoughts and emotions. We are dissatisfied with the world. We wish it to be other than it is or worry that a satisfactory situation will change (as it always does). We want to be more powerful, famous, rich, beautiful, taller, more intelligent, stronger, thinner, etc. All of which are ego delusion that assumes that the way we view the world is how the world really is and that you would be better off if you got what you wanted (even though you most likely would just want something else).
While it would be nice to be able to take the world as it comes and live in the moment as an enlightened Buddha, very few of us are there yet. In the meantime, we free to find meaning in life, even in situations of terrible suffering such as in the concentration camp Victor Frankl lived in.
In comfortable circumstances, why choose suffering? You get to choose to look at the world any way that you want. Why not start the New Year by improving your worldview and your outlook? Why not start by taking an accounting of what is really needed, how much we have and being grateful for so much abundance?
If she’s amazing, / she won’t be easy. / If she’s easy, / she won’t be amazing.
If she’s worth it, / you won’t give up. / If you give up, / you’re not worthy.
Truth is / everybody is going / to hurt you, / you just gotta / find the ones / worth suffering for.