It’s amazing and thrilling to me… over 4000 people opened the email I sent out on “Is This You???” I’ve received many, many responses – more than I can answer. This has given me the idea to include a “Is This You?” statement in each newsletter in the future. Some of you even suggested other statements which felt wonderful. Please engage and continue to send me your statements of inner qualities, characteristics and perspectives – I will share them with all my readers.
Many of the responses were single words like “WOW” and “YES.” A lot of you took the time to right a comment about each of the twelve. One reader said she was going to design a birthday card using the twelve statements and send it to her friends. Wow and yes to that idea.
I do regret not posting the twelve statements here on the blog allowing the comments to be available to everyone. It was not wise and I am not happy, but I have learned.
Number five on the list: “You would rather be wise than happy – although you find real joy in crossing the thresholds of inner experience.” received the most response.
Some people gave very thoughtful defenses of happiness as a primary and essential goal.
I am so grateful for your challenges, deeply grateful. All of you have pushed me to look at both happiness and wisdom in new and more objective and reflective ways. What is the experience of happiness?? What is wisdom? How do I relate to each and how do they relate, if at all, to each other?
Seeking the wisdom to answer these questions has caused me to sacrifice the happiness of at least two hours of early morning sleep for the last week! Here are some of the thoughts that seemed to have some real inspiration living in them as they appeared in my consciousness.
Wisdom is as vast, and limitless as the cosmos. Happiness is small, brief, and contained within the personal. I lay no ownership on wisdom, but my happiness is mine and no other’s.
What is happiness? Here’s my living (growing and evolving, becoming more complex with each reflection) and most “noble”list of my lasting happiness goals. (but do they answer the “what is” question?)
I feel health in my body, my earthly existence. There is a certain creative tension between arousal, confidence, and calm in just the right relative measures. I feel a radiant and grounded presence of truth, beauty and goodness. I feel that whatever I need is available and generously provided. I am loved and loving. I am secure and stable, but also ready for surprise. I feel a relaxed, contained enthusiasm for life. I am standing in the light and the light that shines from within me is seen by those I love. What I have to give is received. My relationships are harmonious and flexible.
Some of my happy moments…
I am ‘‘happy” when I enjoy a great ginger margarita or my hair sylist gives me a great cut and blow dry. I am in bliss after a 90 minute massage. I feel joy waking up to a crystal clear sunny day after a good storm in the night. I can’t begin to speak of the happiness of loving my grandchildren (actually all children, puppies and kittens). I love surrendering to my desires and sharing magical moments with the man I love.
but they are so fleeting…
The margarita gets drunk(well, that has two truths living in it.) My very fine hair can’t hold a style for more than 15 minutes before flattening and hair grows unevenly no matter how well cut. And so on. Even my grandchildren are blessedly growing and becoming different with every breath – this is the closest experience I have to lasting happiness as long as I don’t get attached to the adorableness of a particular gesture. And the man I love is … sometimes a very challenging soap opera.
Happiness is found in the memories of our stories and in our sensations. Wisdom is the penetration and ultimately the dissolving of opinions/stories and the transformation and purification of sensations. (That’s a whole other post I will write soon)
The challenge with wisdom is that it forms out of suffering. (We don’t need to seek suffering as it arrives with the breath of life.) Wisdom awakes and gives meaning, purpose and significance to suffering. Rudolf Steiner says it beautifully, “Wisdom is crystalized suffering.” The heart crystalizes, not the head, as the heart is capable of suffering and the head by itself is not. Heads do not feel but hearts can think.
Suffering is not the cause heartbreak as wise hearts do not break. What can break is faith in the image that symbolizes truth, beauty, goodness and finally, the loss of faith in all forms of love ( agape, eros, philia and storge). Wise hearts do not harden as the heart is the organ of responsiveness and as long as blood/life flows the heart responds with powerful tenderness. What can harden is the vessels of blood when blood/life stops flowing because of attachment to the temporary things that offer happiness. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love and freedom.
When we can observe/suffer the height, depth and breadth of our happiness we become wise. This is equally true for observing our grief, our love, our sadness, our fear, our doubt, our resentment, our boredom.
When we die it is not our happiness we take with us, it is our wisdom.
Wisdom requires compassion. The wise soul knows that it is one with the world.
Wisdom frees us from anxiety and awakens an emotional equanimity. Wisdom observes and relates in an inner freedom. Wisdom does not react to its observation but learns from it.
Because our hearts and bodies know happiness is fleeting there is that moment when we, the selfish mind realizes there will be an end to a particular source of happiness and it will be replaced by the nasty, obsessive longing for happiness. We feel anxiety begin its disturbing trickle. What would you do to stop the trickle from flooding your soul?
Or maybe it feels the opposite, that it is not a trickle in of anxiety but a leaking out of happiness and the encroaching sense of desolation. What will you do to plug the leak and stop the encroaching pain?
These are the right questions for this time of the Inner Year. It is the soul season to do the work of Inner Lent and face what makes you susceptible to temptations. Yes, it is wisdom that vanquishes the devil, not happiness.