Every Sunday United Black America presents “Spiritual Sunday” . Here, we will discuss, debate, and evaluate metaphysics, spirituality, and the science of life. Baptists, Buddhists, 5 Percenters, NOI and Nuwaubians present views on life, death, God, and everything in between. If you want to stay up to date with this series, be sure to subscribe here!
As a mortal being – a human – we have all inherited a natural unsatisfactoriness in life which simply will not go away. You can suppress it from your awareness for a time. You can distract yourself for hours on end, but it always comes back–usually when you least expect it. All of a sudden, seemingly out of the blue, you sit up, take stock, and realize your actual situation in life. You realize you are in the matrix.
You suddenly realize that you are spending your whole life just barely getting by. You keep up a good front. You manage to make ends meet, you stay fresh, the whip stays clean. But those periods of desperation, those times when you feel everything caving in on you, you keep those to yourself. You are a mess. And you know it. But you hide it beautifully…
Meanwhile, way down under all that you just know there has got be some other way to live, some better way to look at the world, some way to touch life more fully.
….You click into it by chance now and then. You get a good job. You fall in love. You win the game.
…And for a while, things are different. Life takes on a richness and clarity that makes all the bad or boring times fade away. But then that fades, too, like smoke in the wind. You are left with just a memory
…and a vague awareness that something is wrong.
“There Has to be More to Life!”
But you know that there is really another whole realm of depth and sensitivity available in life, somehow, you are just not seeing it. You wind up feeling cut off. You feel blocked from the sweetness of experience by something that you cant put your finger on. You are not really touching life. You are not making it again. And then even that vague awareness fades away, and you are back to the same old reality. The world looks like the usual foul place, which is boring at best. It is an emotional roller coaster, and you spend a lot of your time down at the bottom of the ramp, yearning for the heights.
So what is wrong with you? Are you a freak? No. You are just human. And you suffer from the same disease that infects every human being. It is a monster inside all of us, and it has many arms: Chronic tension, lack of genuine compassion for others, including the people closest to you, feelings being blocked up, and emotional deadness.
Many, many arms.
None of us is entirely free from it. We may deny it. We try to suppress it. We build a whole culture around hiding from it, pretending it is not there, and distracting ourselves from it with goals and projects and status.
Music, dancing, junk food, blacks and blunts, chasing paper, religion, shopping, “gettin it in”…
But it never goes away. It is a constant undercurrent in every thought and every perception; a little wordless voice at the back of the head saying, “Not good enough yet. Got to have more. Got to make it better. Got to be better.” It is a monster..
“Life is Suffering”
Go to a party. Listen to the fake-ass laughter, feel the tension, feel the pressure. Nobody really relaxes. They are faking it. Go to a ball game. Watch the fans in the stand. Watch the irrational fit of anger (especially if you are a Raiders fan). Watch the uncontrolled frustration bubbling forth from people that masquerades under the guise of enthusiasm, or team spirit. These are the people trying desperately to release tension from within. These are not people who are at peace with themselves.
Watch the news on TV. Listen to the lyrics in popular songs. You find the same theme repeated over and over in variations. Jealousy, suffering, discontent and stress…
Life seems to be a never-ending struggle, some enormous effort against staggering odds. And what is our solution to all this dissatisfaction? We get stuck in the ‘ If only’ syndrome. If only I had more money, then I would be happy. If only I can find somebody who really loves me, if only I can lose 20 pounds, if only I had a BMW, luxury apartment, and straight hair
…and on and on forever.
What Can You Do?
So where does all this junk come from and more important, what can we do about it? It comes from the conditions of our own minds. It is deep, subtle and pervasive set of mental habits, a Gordian knot which we have built up bit by bit and we can unravel just the same way, one piece at a time. We can tune up our awareness, dredge up each separate piece and bring it out into the light. We can make the unconscious conscious, slowly, one piece at a time…
…We can meditate.
Meditation is not easy. It takes time and it takes energy. It also takes grit, determination and discipline. It requires a host of personal qualities which we normally regard as unpleasant and which we like to avoid whenever possible. It is certainly a great deal easier just to kick back and watch television.
So why bother? Why waste all that time and energy when you could be out enjoying yourself? Why bother? Simple. You are seeking peace and happiness. Real peace and happiness, not the temporary high that you get with a new purchase, a drug or alcohol high, a video game, an orgasm, or a good meal – those feelings fade.
What Do You Want?
We want food, we want money, we want sex, possessions and respect. We even say to ourselves that the idea of ‘happiness’ is too abstract: “Look, just give me enough money and I will buy all the happiness I need”! Unfortunately, this is an attitude that does not work. Examine each of these goals and you will find they are superficial. You want food. Why? Because I am hungry. So you are hungry, so what? Well if I eat, I won’t be hungry and then I’ll feel good. Ah ha! Feel good! Now there is a real item. What we really seek is not the surface goals. They are just means to an end. What we are really after is the feeling of relief that comes when the drive is satisfied. Relief, relaxation and an end to the tension. Peace, happiness, no more yearning.
True happiness is a level of functioning where the mind does not try to freeze time, where we do not grasp onto our experience as it flows by, where we do not try to block things out and ignore them. It is a level of experience beyond good and bad, beyond pleasure and pain. It is a lovely way to perceive the world, and it is a learnable skill. It is not easy, but is learnable.
Control Your Mind to Free Your Soul
You can learn to control your mind, to step outside of this endless cycle of desire and unhappiness. You can learn to not want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them. This does not mean that you lie down on the road and invite everybody to walk all over you . It means that you continue to live a very normal-looking life, but live from a whole new viewpoint. You do the things that a person must do, but you are free from that obsessive, compulsive drivenness of your own desires. You want something, but you don’t need to chase after it. You fear something, but you don’t need to stand there quaking in your boots. This sort of mental culture is very difficult. It takes years. But trying to control everything is impossible, and the difficult is always preferable to the impossible.
Read and practice Introduction to Meditation.
Begin your training with one of these guides: