Title: Read Me
What are you fretting over right now?
The state of your life? Your community? A relationship?
Now, wonder with me, why it is that rich people can be miserable and poor people can be content and self-secure?...
Which one of these would you say are experiencing happiness or success?
Now we are discussing experiences...
So, what is responsible for the experiences we have? Is it the events in the moment, or... Is it our demeanor?
Before I moved to England, I went through a journey with myself. [With myself] is the key phrase here. I find now that everything that arose with my life situation synced with my attitude toward myself. My sense of independence, freedom, determination, self- esteem and confidence, when these dropped, life felt bleak, and interestingly, my circumstances responded to reflect this. However, with nurturing influences of caring friends (connection), these things rose again, and to great heights. And life felt no more like a struggle, but a window of opportunity. But what is interesting, is that my life circumstances changed again to perfectly match, eventually bringing me to an envious entrepreneurial career in England. So, my life situation has always reflected my attitude toward it and myself. After I had been in England for some time, I began to let myself become lost in fear toward my new-found responsibilities. I turned my independence into a weight that dragged me down. And without missing a beat, my life circumstances once again responded to this developed negative attitude toward myself. I ended up back in the US in a place that many would not want to stay for longer than a week.
Why am I sharing this?
Because whoever is reading this is also going on a similar journey, not of events, but of a fluctuating attitude toward their selves and triggering their life to respond likewise. We can say our life is sad, or our community is broken, or the people we love are being cruel and will be the death of us. But let’s really think more about this. If my life is sad, then why is it that I am well fed, have a roof over my head, a car and a job making money, with people around me who care about me? If my life was sad, this would not be the case. If this community is broken, how is it that many are so happy being here among others who are not? If the community were truly broken, I don’t believe anyone would feel positive about this place. If a relationship or lack thereof is truly cruel, why is it we feel so belonged and inspired to love from it? If it were truly what we feel it is, we would not feel the love that we do within it. All three of these more factually demonstrate a whole spectrum of good and bad, and ultimately cancels out all conclusions.
So what is really going on here? Is it really that these things are good or bad? Or is it that we are projecting ourselves onto simply what is, therefore manifesting it as such for us?
Outside of our judgment and projections, life is just life. Not good or bad. The temple is just an online forum. Not good or bad. Our relationships are simply a connection between people. Not good or bad.
So, Stoicism would like to have a word with us. Consult Marcus Aurelius who says
“It’s all in how you perceive it. You are in control. You can dispense with mis-perception at will, like rounding the point.”
It’s necessary to realize that how we choose to perceive the present moment and react or respond emotionally to any particular thing, is a reflection of where we are with ourselves. Perceiving something as a threat or an insult is a reflection of an insecurity. So we may consult ourselves before anything else. Instead of focusing on what triggers us, we may focus on the nature of the resulting feeling and where its internally coming from, and most importantly WHY. Gaining more and more awareness of this means gaining the ability to interact with our experiences in the most honest way possible. We realize all this time, it was never about them, it was about us.
Stoicism is useful to us because once we realize what we’ve been doing this whole time we experience a trigger, painting our reality about any particular thing in the delusional colors that we do, the principles of the stoic then teaches us how to clear the canvas, let go of the delusions, accept things as being simply what they are, and revisit the present moment with an attitude that we would like to respond likewise to us.
There is one very important thing to realize about this now: The connection between our present experience, the psychological interactions we have with the present experience, and the effect that connection has on everything makes each experience sacred. In turn, each moment in time and each place we find ourselves inherit this sacredness. Read that again. Because understanding the meaning and significance of this plays a major role in who we become in the world, what we do in the world, and what we decide to do with each of our experiences in every moment. It is at the heart of why the hero archetype exists and in turn, why we ought to bother being inspired to be Jedi in the first place.
If we come to understand where this is going, we will see that, after all, a tree is just a tree, a mountain is just a mountain, a day is just a day, a person is just a person, a forum is just a forum, and in the end, all that matters for us, is how we choose to connect to any of it.