It’s so easy to be happy sometimes. Like walking through an open doorway devoid of angry threshold guardians. Just now, as I re-named one of the folders on my desktop “Alchemy & Astrology” a crow flew by my window, crowing twice. My eyes are puffy from eating too much sodium last night because I am a salt fiend. As it turns out, my last name — Khoy — means “salt.” But through the puffiness of an early morning face, I smiled a big smile at this little moment of synchronicity that means nothing to no one but me. Surrounded by my books, with visions of alchemy, magic, and astrology floating through my head, half-asleep and still in communion with the strange black poodle who could fly and with my delighted declaration that “this castle needs a pig,” from last night’s dreams — I am more content than I can say.
I was getting a little uptight yesterday. I watched as the feeling crept over me like slow-growing moss. Without even noticing how it begins we can sometimes get ahead of ourselves and let the energy of our desires turn into a force of secret tyranny. And yet, as I sit here and write, nothing really matters but the flame that dances in the invisible wind of my morning devotions, nothing matters but the sound of the river flowing outside my window — not this window, but some window in some other life, or in my fantasy. There is a river, somewhere, and it is flowing fast and true and its waters are dancing and they sound marvelous and they affirm life and sing its praises all day long. That’s all that matters, you see? Everything is already perfect and there is nothing to chase after, nothing in need of our anguished longing.
Where do we really live? Where are we right now? Is the world going insane or are we the insane ones letting insanity happen all around us? Implicitly accepting insanity and unkindness with our every action and with every dollar spent, we chase after things and we want more things and we don’t see how our chasing and our wanting transform into an energy, a secret underground tyranny that drives the world insane and us with it. We all want some truth, we want some happiness — do we long for that? Do we long for peace and happiness and the unobstructed doorway? What good is our longing? Does it avert evil? Does it save lives? Or does it lock us up in dark rooms where we can no longer hear the rivers or watch the flames? Because when immaterial reality crosses the threshold of consciousness it splits into two streams — desire as a force, as a power in the imagination becomes light and dark. So does love, so does beauty, so does intelligence. Every force splits in two, into good and evil, and thus presents us with a stark choice.
When we think of the sirens, beautiful singing mermaids who sit along distant rocks in the sea, we immediately think of the downfall of sailors. But did you know? (Most people don’t it’s why I ask). Did you know that the song of the sirens sounds different to different people? If you are a person of lowly character, if you are after nothing but achieving your own selfish desires then the songs will lead you to your doom, to Davy Jones’ locker. But if you are a person of high character, selfless and wise, the song of the sirens exalts you even further and brings you in contact and communion with the immortal realm of the gods. So what is our longing after? Having split into two streams, is it now dark or light? Is it of low or high character? All of us want the easy way out. None of us want to consider how our own ceaseless desires create manifold unpleasantness for us and for others. If things are not right it’s usually someone else’s fault. But whatever is going on is sitting squarely on the ground of our own character flashing us a knowing smile and asking for our careful attention.
We can’t be happy and excessively desirous — darkly desirous — at the same time. It has to be one or the other. We can make it our life’s work to chase after happiness which will mean that we constantly need things, more and more and more things, things like money and power and status and a new sofa and a trip to Spain and more followers and clicks and likes and more wine and more clothes and a new haircut and some ice cream. With this strategy, needing more and more and more never ends. The other option, the lighter option is to be satisfied with total perfection, because believing that things are not already perfect is an illusion of the mind, a little nugget of truth to which anyone who meditates regularly can attest. It’s incredible to the rational mind but believe it or not even death and wars and injustice are perfect. On the micro-level, we strain against the images of the rational mind incarnated into physical form but on the macro-level the soul is completely free and all things are one.
The pursuit of the wise individual is to forgo the mad chasing after things in the material world and connect with this deeper mystery instead. That is how to be happy pretty much all the time. For here is the irony of this sort of happiness: you are happy even when you are sad since you can actually feel your sadness without any limitations placed on you by an inner judge or critic. Allowing all things to be what they are, we become completely free from the hellish compulsion of always needing everything to change to fit us and our low character. This way we leave the doom room and step into gratitude for the perfection of the small and true moments that make up our lives. We can smile through puffy eyes and notice the beautiful connections that crop up everywhere, across time and space, even as the crow flies.