Chapter 252 Equanimity and Peace are “Above Happiness” (LONG CHAPTER)

Taking a chapter out of Osho and what the Dalai Lama says, ask yourself what is happiness?  It is different for every person.  We should break for a chapter to define this.  For one person it may mean 3 houses and a million dollars in the bank.  For another it may mean warm soft relationships with family.  For another it may mean prostitutes and drugs.  Yet another may define it as fame and accolades.  Happiness is different for everybody.  But what does it mean for you?

Despite the apparent distinctions, there is one common theme, happiness in “things” and “experiences” offer only TEMPORARY pleasure.  Houses break down, passionate romance wilts, and even your memories of them disappear.  Anytime you define and depend on your happiness being dependent on getting “something” or being in a certain “state of mind” is built on a weak foundation. 

Equanimity and its resulting feelings of peace is a “higher state of happiness” that doesn’t change with time and is not dependent on the comings and goings of occurrences.  Equanimity is a state of “non-attachment” that comes from the acceptance of the present moment.  Equanimity doesn’t move with the dichotomies of pain/pleasure, excitement/boredom, rich/poor, young/old.  Equanimity means you know that (your mind) is the agent of what you determine is good or bad in a given situation.  Equanimity means that if you let go and allow, if you are not moved by the outcomes of a situation, you rise above, and your bliss will be undisturbed.

This solid yet flexible state of mind is what we discussed as the even-mindedness that allows people to escape our ego’s firm grip that makes us want this or that and get depressed when things don’t go our way.

To use an example from the stock, bond, currency, and futures markets (where I was involved in), you have to know for the most part that in all futures financial contracts, it is a zero sum game.  In other words, for every winner there is a loser.  One day the gold markets tumble lower and if you are “short” the market (betting that the prices will drop), you will be so happy.  If you bet a significant portion of your wealth on this, then you may be REALLY happy, if you bet a small portion, then you will be slightly happy that particular day.

But what about the next day?  The following day, the news may announce that nations are buying up gold and the gold market prices may soar higher.  Then how will you feel?  Once again, it is the size of your investment in it that determines how painful the rise in prices will be.  If you “bet the farm” on gold prices dropping, you will feel immense suffering as you lose all your money.

But what if you have NO position in futures gold contracts?  Then for you, you are unaffected by the outcome.  Then whether the markets rise higher or fall lower makes no difference at all to you.  In the previous example, while you sat sorrowful that prices dropped, there was a person on the other end of your contract that benefited while you suffered.  In a Futures contract, for every winner there is also a loser.  Any money lost is made by another.  So according to the Universe, what can be said?  To God and the Universe, it was a “neutral event”.  Gold prices rising or falling is truly event neutral.  It is the human assessment and involvement that made it a calamity or a celebration.

If you were out of the markets entirely, then nothing about gold prices would affect you…and that is equanimity.  It is like waves on an ocean.  The waves move powerfully in one direction or another, back and forth, up and down.  If you are a boat on the surface, you are pushed around furiously.  And if you are desperate to get to shore, and the waves are pushing you away from shore, that is intense suffering.  But what if you were a fish swimming under the waves, or a bird flying high above the storm?  It matters not what the storm is doing and where the wind is blowing.

Then, in the above example, you will be unaffected by the waves as a high flying bird or a deep sea fish.  You can think of life’s events in the same way.  The waves that move around furiously can be understood as “life events”.  But they are always neutral to an impartial observer say who is standing on the surface of the planet Mars.  Even a “calamity” of a meteor smashing into the Earth and destroying all mankind from the standpoint of someone who can “live” on Mars is a neutral event. 

All events are “neutral” when you really think about it.  It is always the observer who passes a judgment on it based on his/her investment in the outcome that makes an event a horror or a celebration.  Move to a World Series Baseball game at the bottom of the ninth.  If you are a devoted fan of either team, and pretend that you bet a lot of money on the outcome, you are going to be seriously affected in the outcome.  If your team wins, you say “Yes! Hurray!, but if your team loses you say “No! No way!” 

But say you are not a fan of baseball at all or like both teams equally.  Then you have equanimity because you are “even-minded” whoever wins the game.  The outcome makes no difference to you.  You may enjoy watching the game, but whatever happens, you know you are going to be OK.  You have no stake in whose team wins or loses.  You simply do not care.  You can enjoy watching the game from afar, appreciating the skills of the players, but unattached to whatever the outcome will be. 

Starting from this example, use this notion to help stabilize your own life.  Pretend you have a fancy expensive car you could barely afford.  You are paying large monthly payments.  Your insurance cost is very high.  You enjoy it for a moment in time, but after driving it around for a month, the excitement wears off and it feels the same as your old car.  And then how do you feel when someone scratches your car or dents it?  You will suffer.  This is because you put yourself and your ego into a “thing” and what it may represent, “status”.

But let’s say you just happened to get a job very close to home which made a car useless to you.  You just had friends close by and the supermarket close by and needed only a ten dollar used bicycle to move around in.  You are in a much better position for equanimity than in the first situation where you put so much value in a “thing”.  There is no monthly payment, no insurance, no city sticker, no license plates.  Simply, you have put yourself “out of the game” (in this case of owning a “luxury” car).  The depreciating value, the expenses of maintaining the car, the chances of it being damaged or stolen…all those events are completely avoided.  Putting your value and future happiness in things and outcomes is the trap you and your ego faces. 

Take stock in everything you hold dear.  You want your son/daughter to get straight As and go to Harvard or a top college.  What have you just done to yourself?  You are setting yourself up for a highly likely disappointment.  Even if he/she does get into Harvard, you desire for him to “achieve at the highest level” won’t stop.  That “mode of thinking” will get you upset sooner or later.  You will be hoping he then goes to Harvard Medical School and then becomes Chief Resident in Surgery, then the Hospital Chairman, and so on.  The disease of wanting “more”, staying so hungry…that is a perfect setup that YOU created that brought on the suffering to yourself.

Take yourself out of the game if you wish for Equanimity.  You need not play the game that everyone else is playing.  You can appreciate the skills and happenings of the baseball game in the first example, and in the second example just be happy with whatever college your son/daughter decide to go to.  In the second example, it really matters not which college he/she goes to.  He/she will still buy books, attend lectures, study for exams, learn everything he/she can.  But if you had it in your mind he/she MUST go to a top college, you are setting yourself up for major disappointment.  Your ego drops if the outcome is not to your favor. 

Again, it is NOT the event that makes anything a tragedy or a celebration.  It is our interpretation of the event.  In our baseball example, one team will celebrate in the locker room after the game, and one team will mourn and be depressed in the locker room after the game.  So does it MATTER who won the game?  It was a neutral event, someone won, someone lost…but it is your own involvement and stake in the game that stirred the emotions in you.  If you were so involved, you felt either pain or pleasure at the outcome.

Go beyond this seeking after pleasure and avoiding pain.  They are dichotomies and dualities that will make you happy AND sad.  They come in pairs.  You cannot have all happiness and avoid all sadness.  It is impossible.  If you are in a position where your emotions can be stirred up by the outcome, you are riding (as I wrote) on a boat sailing in a violent rainstorm on the sea. But if you can fly higher as a bird, looking down at the waves, you are unaffected by what happens below. 

You are free and at peace if you are unattached.  Don’t put your emotions at stake where an outcome you cannot control break you down.  Start taking an inventory of all that you “hold dear”, your attachments, and one by one cut them down or erase them so that the outcome will not affect you either way.

Are you attached to your fancy expensive luxury car you have trouble making payments on?  Sell that car, break that attachment.  Are you putting your hard earned dollars into the futures market in a contract on gold?  Pull your money out and put it in a stable predictable interest bearing savings account.  Or if you “must” invest, invest such a small portion of your money in the account so that you are unaffected by the prices of gold.  Are you so involved in the World Series Baseball game that you bet money on the game.  Stop and rethink how you are setting yourself up for a serious disappointment.  Are you thinking of buying a house you can barely afford the mortgage payments on nevermind the costly insurance and repairs?  Rethink your 30 year mistake.

Do you put high importance on your appearance?  Do you realize that you WILL get older and (regarding “appearances”) Society deems YOUNG people to be beautiful?  Do you realize that you are setting yourself for misery soon to come?  Stop buying all those fashion magazines and make up and wishing you will stay looking young all your life, which is impossible.  Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.  And Society, with its warped sense of values, places beauty on the young.  By putting stock in your appearance, you are responsible for the future suffering that you have set the cards down.

When I was a child, I loved my grandmother so dearly.  Her hair was white.  She had wrinkly skin.  But she was just as beautiful if not more so than any glamour model that I saw in the fashion magazines.  In fact, as an Asian boy so young, I thought the Euro-American female models looked rather odd and unattractive with big noses.  But as I grew up, and was programmed and exposed to what “sexy” is (moving to America at a young age), I was affected for a while on what Society sold as beautiful. 

I can recall a funny story how I used to laugh as a kid when my friends said they liked girls with a nice “butt” and “big boobs”.  I told them “Don’t you know they “poop” out of a butt?”  And large breasts just reminded me of my mother, and did not stir any thought of sexual “attractiveness” in me.

I only cared about how some girls treated me.  As an Asian American, I was a bit shy, so if a girl was nice to me and said hello, she WAS suddenly beautiful in my eyes.  The same programming could be said for “tanning”.  I remember clearly liking white milky skin on girls for so long.  Then the programming of magazines and movies with girls having dark orange/gold tans seemed attractive to me.  It was all what Society led me to think.  That is why I think listening to Society is so dangerous to a person’s well being.  Society doesn’t allow one to think for themselves, Society TELLS a person what to think and how to feel.  Society leads a person AWAY from equanimity.

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About youngkim3000

I grew up in Virginia and went to a top tier high school, being so ambitious and wanting fame and fortune like the next kid. I received good grades and then I went off to the University of Chicago where I majored in Psychology and Economics. After a brief but successful "Wall Street" career, I realized that I was not happy and left thinking that a career in the medical field would satisfy me. Then, I did some post Bac work at Northwestern and UIC, and then ended up at UIC Medical School. The problem was I was not happy there either. The structure, the repetition, and lack of being able to be free and spontaneously creative really knocked me down. Having to be subject to constant subjective evaluations sucked my soul dry. As I sought another chapter in my life, then came the financial collapse of 2008-9 which destroyed the "nest egg" and saving that I had worked so hard to build after college--which I so "identified with". I was so depressed at the loss of career and the loss of money that I fell into self pity and a deep seated depression. For weeks on end, I could not even get out of bed. I went to many doctors who could not really help me. I took so much anti-depressant medication and also self medicated with alcohol to dull my mind. One day though, I went to the public library in Niles, IL, and picked up some books on "Self-Help". I figured what do I have to lose? I was already so depressed I could barely get through a day. I picked up books by Wayne Dyer (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), Deepak Chopra, Louis Hay, Ram Dass, Osho, and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), The Dalai Lama, and revisited my faith in Catholicism. I devoured so many books to unearth just why I was suffering so much. I learned so much about myself and realized that my deep suffering was actually a gift for me to discover myself. Simply put, those words in those books saved my life. I was taking so many drugs and my physical health was in serious jeopardy. I realized that I could not live with myself any longer, and I needed to be free. I realized...that it was my own thoughts that were making me so depressed, as was my own "life story" that I replayed over and over. I realized that my mind was busy creating negative thoughts. Thoughts are "things" and expand. I understood that you do not "normally" choose your thoughts. Just like the digestion of a meal, the mind automatically creates all kinds of thoughts whether you like it or not. Just like you do not "choose" to breathe with your lungs or "choose" to make urine from your kidneys, you "normally" do not "choose" your own thoughts. They just happen, just like digestion. And if you had a bad experience, your mind recreates the negative thoughts without your conscious consent but you are forced to relive them endless times per day. It is only through CONSCIOUS INTERVENTION that you can make your mind change course from recycling negative thoughts. This is just like your breathing. You breathe automatically, but you CAN choose to influence your breathing, you can hold your breath if you are going to dive deep in the water, or you can consciously "slow down" your breath if you are relaxing in meditation and prayer. Once I realized I did in fact have an ability to control my thoughts, I consciously redirected the thoughts to positive uplifting notions. I noted that I had built such a large ego that the collapse of it dragged me down in catastrophic fashion. A big ego is different from self esteem. Both were destroyed, but I learned to regain self esteem through positive affirmations and knowing that the negative thoughts are not reality. I was choosing definitively to live in the past via my repetitive thoughts. I was also choosing to live in an uncertain future that I painted with dreadful possibilities. I realized that if I live in the "now", the present moment, I really did not have any reason to be depressed at all. I discovered I really only live in the "now". The past and future are fictions. It is akin to a motorboat on the water on a lake. The "wake" that the boat produces is the past, my vision of the future is what I can see in front of me, but I really only exist ON the boat in the present moment. I was living my life only on the "wake" created many meters before. Soon, my self-pity slowly subsided as I learned to accept "what is" and not grasp for anything and everything that is valued by Society. I concurred that it was my own "expectations" not realized that were causing such waves of discontent. Once I dropped my self imposed sad "life story", my yesterdays, I came to my senses that there was no need to feel upset at all. That realization hit me like "a ton of bricks" and quickly lifted me out of the well, like a rope thrown down the dark walls of the deep well. I would like to share that it was only that single moment of enlightenment, a "satori" event that forever changed my life, but that was not so. It was a gradual climb out of the abyss (over about a year). I realized that my mind was like a superhighway of blazing thoughts that went through my mind over and over based on the recent past. While my "life story" was going great, I believed in those thoughts, and my ego grew such that I became arrogant and sometimes unkind. Then when my "life story" changed for the worse, I similarly believed in those new negative thoughts with the same passion (which hurt me so deeply throughout my waking hours). I noted to myself that this was why I craved so many "tranquilizers" and medicines that would halt my thoughts. I realized that I was drowning in my negative thoughts and that I was CHOOSING to believe in them. But I learned through focusing on positive affirmations, meditation and prayer, I did not need any more drugs to "halt" my mind from stabbing me to death. Through the filter of society's measure I had evaluated my own life, unable to fully realize that it was all a fiction that my mind had created. I was completely unable to live in the present before this profound awakening. My life had turned into a constant "replay" of the past, the anxiety of the uncertain future...and my destroyed ego. Because of my belief that my thoughts were the ultimate truth, I suffered so deeply... but needlessly. Once I changed the direction of my thoughts, everything changed. The way I looked at my own life changed. I realized that LIFE is not a long emergency where the one with the most toys at the end wins. I realized LIFE is something to be lived fully, and joyfully...not some series of problems to be solved. Once I realized these insights, I realized that I was the creation of my own depression. Although a devout Catholic, I am also deeply moved by the ideals of Buddhism. About Karma and "Dependent Arising"...both of which are also in the Bible (Galations 6, Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, a person always reaps what they sow). And I was...for the better part of my life, a runaway train into disaster that I was blind to...that I had planted the seeds onto. Putting money, fame, accolades, trophies, and so forth as the ultimate end to my goals sowed the seeds of psychological calamity when the inevitable tides of change occurs in every life. A person who extols those superficial qualities dooms himself/herself to disaster. The only variable is "time". Would it take a long time to find yourself in a train wreck or a short time? It doesn't matter. What matters is how soon can you realize the truth of existence and your place in it...and rise above what Society tries to focus you to believe. Society always makes you compare yourself to others, Society never leaves you alone to just be yourself. You have to exert effort and unlearn what Society has poisoned you with. I am now doing various "work" (not holding down any soul sucking corporate job), teaching, making money through various income sources like buying items at rummage sales and reselling them through Craigslist, asking neighbors and doing work they need, trading stock options when my financial tools indicate that there is a good trade. I am not focused on any "ladder to climb" or any "prestigious career"...and I am so much happier and at peace. I'd rather be "waterboarded" that go back to Corporate America. I have also a solid equanimity, and i am OK with whatever happens, and thus accept what God and the Universe wish for me. I wish to share my newly found wisdom and hope that my story and my interpretation of my newly found contentment can benefit others and I also wish to hear similar stories of awakening. God Bless, thanks for reading my "profile" and leave me your stories of awakening. Outside somewhere is a field where all of us are the same, I cannot wait to see you there...Namaste...
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2 Responses to Chapter 252 Equanimity and Peace are “Above Happiness” (LONG CHAPTER)

  1. Soon Ja Park says:

    Thanks for a lovely article. I really enjoyed it. I think having a balanced mind full of equanimity is the most valuable thing on this Earth. And you can’t buy equanimity, you have to endure, then suffer, then accept, then find equanimity.

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