2013-02-11

Reality vs. "Should Be"

The Mindfulness habit begins by being conscious of when you’re having fun – when you’re enjoying something. As like as not, it’ll be some little thing. The painter, Vincent Van Gogh describes getting up from bed at night after a snowstorm, and looking out at the landscape:
“Never, never has nature made such a moving and touching impression on me.”
Moments of grace like that happen when we’re open to receive them. The beauty of nature is usually a good bet. Every season has its aesthetic; springtime is, for most of us, particularly reliable for offering its grace.
“Every happy living thing revels in the cheerful spring.” (Henry Purcell)
If the first step is telling ourselves that we like what we’re experiencing, the next step is to stop telling ourselves so much about what we don’t like. It’s the all-too-common trap: ignoring our blessings, while weaving a richly detailed story of all the wrongs we unfairly endure.
“Before I woke up to reality, I had a symbol for all my frustration: my children’s socks. Every morning they’d be on the floor, and every morning I’d think, ‘My children should pick up their socks.’ It was my religion. You could say my world was accelerating out of control – because in my mind, there were socks everywhere. And I’d be filled with rage and depression because I believed these socks didn’t belong on the floor, even though, morning after morning, that’s where they were. I believed it was my children’s job to pick them up, even though, morning after morning, they didn’t.” (Byron Katie)
Live in reality, says Katie, instead of in our “should be’s.”
“After 10 years of deep depression and despair, I came to see that my suffering wasn’t a result of not having control; it was a result of arguing with reality. . . . Until you can love what is – everything, including the apparent violence and craziness – you’re separate from the world, and you’ll see it as dangerous and frightening.” (Byron Katie: click here)
Loving what is – total acceptance of reality exactly as it is – does not mean that we do not work for social justice. It does mean that we simply let go of our frustrations as we go about that work.

What is yours to do? First, what are your gifts – your talents, your passions, your hunger? Second, what are the world’s greatest needs? Third, where is the balance point between those two – where do your gifts meet the world’s needs? Those are the questions for identifying what is yours to do, and if you don’t know, then discernment work on those questions is called for, and even if you do know, discernment work is ongoing.

The Bhagavad Gita teaches: You have the right to your work; you do not have the right to fruits of that work. In other words, what is yours to do, you offer up to the world. The world will then make of it what it will: that’s out of your hands. You have come to your calling, the works of your life, in part, through an estimation of likelihood of success. Yes, calculate your best chance of success. Then roll that die and accept what comes.

Maybe your work becomes the last straw producing a cascading collapse, one after the other, of every system of oppression and injustice by which humans hurt each other, other animals, and the earth. Maybe you save the world.

Or: maybe your work makes no difference at all.

Or: maybe your work triggers a backlash that makes things worse.

Who knows? You do what is yours to do, and beyond reviewing what really is yours to be doing next, let go of attachment to results.
“The point of washing the dishes,is not to get them clean. The point of washing the dishes is to wash the dishes.” (Thich Nhat Hanh)
Just do. No frustrations about outcomes; no “arguing with reality.”

Our hearts cannot but turn over to grace all that they are and have. Grace has its own way of shaping what our hearts bequeath it.

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This is part 3 of 6 of "Happy."
Next: Part 4: "Macaroons or a Frontal Lobe?"
Previous: Part 2: "Notice What You Like"
Beginning: Part 1: "Having Everything You Want"