(Click here to read this series from the beginning)
Shifting from unhappiness to happiness. That is the real question. The only time that we need help or advice or principles of happiness is when we are unhappy. In the last two posts, we have seen that (one possible story of) the underlying cause of our unhappiness is the belief in two powers. And that every time we make a negative judgment of anyone or anything, we are implicitly affirming the belief in two powers for ourselves.
As we discussed in earlier posts. forgiveness is the first step in shifting from a two-power way of thinking to a one-power way, a shift from always experiencing some degree of unhappiness and un-well-being to the possibility of perfect happiness, absolute peace and unconditional love. As I said before, forgiveness does not mean letting someone off the hook for something bad. It means letting go of the belief—the illusory two-power thought in your own mind—that there really was something bad in the first place. Because if you don’t let go of that two-power belief, you will necessarily continue to experience some degree of suffering in your life.
Every time you decide to hold onto a negative judgment, no matter how trivial and insignificant it might seem, you are affirming the belief in two powers. Every time you decide to indulge in a negative emotion, no matter now mild it might seem, you are affirming the belief in two powers. And the belief in two powers will always be reflected as experiences of fear and conflict and suffering in your life.
So the next time you find yourself in the midst of a critical thought about someone, or in the midst of feeling anger or irritation or worry about something, ask yourself “Is it worth it??” Yes, in the midst of such thoughts and feelings you will of course believe that you are “right,” and that what you are criticizing or upset about is “really true.” That’s how the two-power sleight of hand called “projection” works, by keeping you distracted in blame and self-righteousness. But as we saw in an earlier post, it’s just a story, just one possible story among many
As we move along our individual spiritual paths, our lives seem to get happier and more peaceful by degrees. There is still a mixture kind of experience, but the mixture seems to progressively have more happiness and less unhappiness. But the ultimate goal of this whole spiritual journey—at least according to those who have completed their journeys and are kind enough to share with the rest of us—is the complete freedom from suffering. This is not a quantitative shift of one more degree, but a qualitative shift. And you cannot be completely free of suffering unless you are completely free of the belief in two powers. And total forgiveness is the “cost” of total freedom from unhappiness—the “cost” of total freedom for happiness. I put “cost” in quotes, because the only thing you are giving up when you forgive is your own projected illusion—an illusion that blocks your own awareness of the presence of love.
Any indulgence in judgmental thinking or unpeaceful emotions will keep you from the qualitative shift into complete happiness. At this point in our journeys, we don’t seem to have a choice whether we will have judgmental thoughts or negative emotions. We simply find ourselves in the midst of them occasionally. But we always have a choice of how we will respond to them; always have a choice as to whether we will continue to indulge in them once we are aware of them. Again, it’s not bad or wrong to be judgmental or to experience negative emotions. But your real question is whether it’s worth it to you to continue to indulge in them. For me, it seems to be an awfully high price for the for the temporary satisfaction of thinking that you are “right.” Is it really worth it? (To be continued …)