Archive for true self

Slow Time and the Pursuit of Happiness

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 16, 2018 by thecrossingchicago

I had a chat with a friend the other day about happiness.  She asked me about the pursuit and if it really comes to any meaning.  Perhaps it’s just futile and only leads us on a goose chase that leaves us feeling tired and bitter.  It was a great conversation and it gave me a lot of insights as I pondered it.

I once heard an author say that all of his writing comes from a question.  In other words, he doesn’t write because he thinks he’s an expert about something.  Instead, he is processing out loud as he writes.  That’s exactly what I am doing here.  I’m wondering as a wander, so to speak.

In such a conversation, it seems that we have to start with the semantics.  What is happiness?  Is it really something to be “attained”?  In my own definition, happiness is merely the emotional reaction to what we perceive another is doing to or for us.  While I’m probably just being over-analytical, I would venture that what we are really looking for is joy or contentment.  Or better yet – serenity.

If we stick with the word “happy,”  I have my doubts that it is something that can be pursued and caught up with.  It appears to be a futile chase toward something that is ethereal and can never fully be grasped.  Rather, it would be more like Thoreau’s estimation that it is something akin to a butterfly that will come and land on our shoulder if we would just stop and smell the roses.

Regardless of the right term – happiness, joy, contentment – I find myself more and more seeing it as a state of being rather than a condition to be attained.  In all of its elusiveness, we are shooting at a moving target.  It is nearly impossible to hit something that is constantly changing.  As I was considering this idea, it occurred to me: we are also moving.  If both the target and the source are in motion, then how can we expect to ever make contact!?

What I mean is this: when we aren’t centered and mindful, how do we really even know what we want?  How can we ever come to a place that we can be assured is genuine joy?  It is like hoping that two atoms from opposite sides of the world will eventually make contact.  It’s nearly impossible and only guaranteed to leave us worn out and hopeless.

So what would it look like if we did the inner work to truly know ourselves?  How would it be to slow time and actually live in the moment with complete awareness and intentionality?  Not multitasking, not running, not chasing.  Instead – breathing, sitting, being.

I’m talking to myself as much as anyone, but I would be willing to bet that, if we would stop and smell the roses, we would experience a great shift.  Not only would happiness not seem like an elusive ideal, but we would likely realize that, in that moment, we already have all that we need.  For the first time, we will experience joy and contentment.  Finally, we will have what we ask for in the old prayer: courage, wisdom, and the ultimate peace of mind: serenity.

Advertisements

The Resurrection of the Christ Within

Posted in Encouragement, true self, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on April 11, 2016 by thecrossingchicago

red-cross-jung-resurrectionIn his later years, Carl Jung became a genuine mystic and contemplative.  His theories of psychology eventually superseded the purely cognitive and reached in to the existential.  In his metaphysical journal that would come to be called The Red Book, Jung explored beyond the depths of the human psyche and into the eternal self, seeking the potential of individual humans and the interconnected humanity.

What is important and meaningful to my life is that I shall live as fully as possible to fulfill the divine will within me. This task gives me so much to do that I have no time for any other. Let me point out that if we were all to live in that way we would need no armies, no police, no diplomacy, no politics, no banks. We would have a meaningful life and not what we have now—madness. What nature asks of the apple-tree is that it shall bring forth apples, and of the pear-tree that it shall bring forth pears. Nature wants me to be simply man. But a man conscious of what I am, and of what I am doing. God seeks consciousness in man.

This is the truth of the birth and the resurrection of Christ within. As more and more thinking men come to it, this is the spiritual rebirth of the world. Christ, the Logos—that is to say, the mind, the understanding, shining into the darkness. Christ was a new truth about man. Mankind has no existence. I exist, you exist. But mankind is only a word. Be what God means you to be; don’t worry about mankind which doesn’t exist, you are avoiding looking at what does exist—the self.

In his transcendental thoughts, Jung points out that each of us has a divine potential that is at the core of our being.  The autonomy of the individual is merely an illusion – we are in actuality manifestations of the cosmic Christ and any individualistic tendency comes from a fissiparous human propensity.  Were we to awaken to the cosmic Christ and our own “divine will within,” peace and harmony would become the norm both in society and within our own souls.

While some are obsequious in their literal interpretation of scripture, I have an occasional tendency toward brash skepticism at most, or an intentional awareness of its metaphorical and allegoric nature at the least.  This is not to say that I do not “believe” in scripture, but I believe the way it has been interpreted and handed down over the years by mostly caucasian males has, in many ways, marred it’s true beauty and the divine imprint upon it.

Having said that, Paul’s statement in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” has, in the past, elicited equal doses of hope and doubt.  If Christ strengthens us, then why do we sometimes feel so worn down and beat up?  Why does Christ choose arbitrarily whom and when to gird and support when needed?  When I look at Paul’s adulation of Christ as something that originates externally with no interaction on our part, I find cynicism bubbling up from within.  However, when I consider Christ to be the logos, the divine manifestation, the source of all being that exists within all of us that calls us to a conversion into our true self, then I do not merely find myself able to nod in intellectual assent, but I am comforted in some place and at some level that I cannot describe.  To know that such strength exists within to draw upon not because it’s occasionally available but because it’s the very nature of our existence creates in me that “peace that surpasses all understanding.”

The Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, spoke of the human conditioned inclination to ignore our true self and choose to make excuses rather than become who we were meant to be.  Many times, we even sabotage ourself and make ourselves into victims who are somehow prevented by ill-intentioned people that prevent us from attaining our true potential.  In reality, we fear what we do not understand and would rather not know who we are supposed to be, let alone live into that reality.

Perhaps I am stronger than I think.  Perhaps I am even afraid of my strength, and turn it against myself, thus making myself weak.  Making myself secure.  Making myself guilty.  Perhaps I am most afraid of the strength of God in me.  Perhaps I would rather be guilty and weak in myself than strong in Him whom I cannot understand.

The only way that we can discover our true selves and experience the resurrection of Christ within is to sit with ourselves in the silent stillness and ask ourselves the powerful questions that we are afraid to answer.  Who am I?  What is my deepest passion?  What gives me joy?  If my life were ideal, what would it look like?  What is preventing me from becoming who God wants me to be?  What am I afraid of?  Ask these questions and you will find that the answers were there all along.  Live those answers and you will finally become who you were meant to be.  When the path seems daunting and fear wracks your mind, just tell yourself that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” because indeed, it is the potential that has existed within you since before you were born.  Claim it for your time for resurrection is now.