The Search for Happiness

I have been reading Paul Brunton\’s book Advanced Contemplation. I came on this chapter about happiness. Happiness is the American Dream. We think happiness is an inalienable right. And this situation has driven us crazy as well as made us sick and robbed us of integrity.

To preface this chapter on happiness, Brunton says, \” Outwardly we live and have to live in the very midst of cruel struggle and grievous conflict, for we share the planet\’s karma; but inwardly we can live by striking contrast in an intense stillness, a consecrated peace, a sublime security.\”

And in the first few lines he says, \”When people seek excessive entertainment and amusement what are they doing but confessing that few of them enjoy real happiness for long without some complimentary source of unhappiness.\”

And so for myself, things I\’ve been thinking about lately.

I am a person who has solved most of life\’s annoyances either because of a good salary or because I abstain from many social activities and norms. In fact the things that bug me are extremely small. What I know is my daily spiritual activities are my life\’s blood. This is where inner peace is born. The one thing I can do with my life is generate inner peace.

Inner peace is a situation which does not come from this world. It can be brought into the world, to the extent the practitioner is adept and matured.

Alcoholics Anonymous gives us the satisfactions of right living found in step 12 of The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions. \”Still more wonderful is the feeling that we do not have to be specially distinguished among our fellows in order to be useful and profoundly happy. Not many of us can be leaders of prominence, nor do we wish to be. Service gladly rendered, obligations squarely met, troubles well accepted or solved with God\’s help, the knowledge that at home or in the world we are partners in a common effort, the well-understood fact that in God\’s sight all human beings are important, the proof that love freely given surely brings a full return, the certainty that we are no longer isolated and alone in self-constructed prisons, the surety that we need no longer be square pegs in round holes but can fit and belong in God\’s scheme of things–these are the permanent and legitimate satisfactions of right living for which no amount of pomp and circumstance, no heap of material possessions, could possibly be substitutes. True ambition is not what we thought it was. True ambition is the deep desire to live usefully and walk humbly under the grace of God.\”  [underlines mine]

And so I venture out onto the trails of Seabrook.

Lesson 226

Today\’s ACIM Lesson:
Lesson 226 \”My home awaits me. I will hasten there.

If I so choose, I can depart this world entirely. It is not death which makes this possible, but it is change of mind about the purpose of the world. If I believe it has a value as I see it now, so will it still remain for me. But if I see no value in the world as I behold it, nothing that I want to keep as mine or search for as a goal, it will depart from me. For I have not sought for illusions to replace the truth.

Father, my home awaits my glad return. Your Arms are open and I hear Your Voice. What need have I to linger in a place of vain desires and of shattered dreams, when Heaven can so easily be mine?\”

What I read in the ACIM text this morning:

\”Be vigilant only for God and for His Kingdom….

The third step, then, is a statement of what you want to believe, and entails a willingness to relinquish everything else. The Holy Spirit will enable you to take this step, if you follow Him. Your vigilance is the sign that you want Him to guide you. Vigilance does require effort, but only until you learn that effort itself is unnecessary. You have exerted great effort to preserve what you made because it was not true. Therefore, you must now turn your effort against it. Only this can cancel out the need for effort, and call upon the being which you both have and are. This recognition is wholly without effort since it is already true and needs no protection. It is in the perfect safety of God. Therefore, inclusion is total and creation is without limit.\”

I had a great 20 minutes on the elliptical and then a great 3.1 mile run outside. Then I went to work. In my inbox were 2 e-mails from 2 vice presidents thanking me for my \”impact\” at their meeting yesterday.

The part in the text above allowed me to go to work today with a mind set on service to my higher power, not on getting. Yesterday, at the meeting with 25 executives, I gave away an idea. It was an out-of-the-blue radical idea. But I had the courage to put send it to one of the VPs a few weeks ago and he got excited. Yesterday, I sprang it on the others and they got excited. This is exactly what ACIM means that ideas expand when given. And giving and receiving are the same.

Today as well, I had in mind that I wanted to help a colleague instead of fight with him. In wanting to collaborate, I was feeling inclusion not separation. In this way, the ego is defeated and the Spirit has been followed. The mindset of inclusion approaches the ACIM principle of \”forgiveness\” since one is now looking beyond this world into the reality of the oneness of creation.

This can only be a wonderful way to live. I am happy for having inner peace today.

Running and peace

I have loved the 3,100 Mile Self Transcendence Race this year for a unique thing this year. In this picture are the finishers so far. The Australian woman (blue shorts) just finished. The other finishers are a mix of Russian and Ukrainian people. Look, we don\’t have to fight.

Also in the race are a Scott, an American and an Austrian.

Running brings us together.

Nothing Again

Last week, the big thing is that I was running a race. I ran over 200 miles in 7 days. I won the 7 day and 10 day portions of the race. I got swag and gift cards. All was focused and attention getting.

This week, back to work. I did not injure myself in my running, so I was also back to normal workouts. More miles and more weights. I did a great job in my hazard analysis this week. I achieved some very good consensus in my facilitation. It is fun to see HAZOP team very engaged in reducing the hazards of their process and not just bored or worried about how much it will cost.

Now it is Friday. I have space and time. I have perused all the race calendars at least once and don\’t see a race I completely want to sign up for. I face again the reality that activities can be a distraction from going inward.

What I want to find is within. The trick is that when I achieve the mental silence and practice the contemplation, my ego doesn\’t get anything. No big emotional moment. No ecstasy. No book to write. No greatness to show the world.

So, my mantra today is from A Course in Miracles workbook: This is a day of stillness and of peace.

Less than 10 days to my 7th anniversary of being a Course in Miracles student. Less than 19 days to my 29th sobriety anniversary, which will coincidentally also be the 11th anniversary since leaving the convent. This time is holy; as is all time.

It is Houston. It is not that hot today.

And now let go.

Surrender

Well, as an invalid, I am having a good time. Work from home for several hours, then go have vitamin  D therapy:

I realized that I almost never just sit by the water and enjoy the sunshine. Well, for most of the summer, Texas is too hot. But now, it was nice.

I also have what I am calling the \”Invalid 550\” workout. It is easy on my arms since they are very tired from heaving my body around. And it loosens up the butt which is sitting too much. It took me 45 min yesterday so I swear I got some endorphins too.

50 each of: crunches (lower legs on ball), butt scrunch bridges (lower legs on ball), bicycles, leg lifts front, Russian twists, side curls, clams, side leg lifts, core activation, inner leg lifts, roll ups. Equals 550.

Yesterday I thought: to know God, you should be grateful. Not for what you have, but to your soul for who you are. Stop and think. What is the essence of a human being. Majesty. Power. Love.

Today I thought: Peace extends from deep inside yourself to embrace all. Surrender to your inner holiness. Surrender to the love existent within and all around. Stop and think. Feel that quiet truth inside. How still. How peaceful. Jut let go.

AAs Big Book says, \”Deep down in every man woman and child is the fundamental idea of God.\” Surrender to the idea. Be sober.

Solitary Endurance

“Their joy is in the innocence they see.” (25.IV) This morning, I needed the Holy Spirit to give me a perspective on joy that was totally different than what I could think of by myself. From there, I was able to go running with the idea of peace: “Those who offer peace to everyone have found a home in Heaven the world cannot destroy. For it is large enough to hold the world within its peace… In you there is a vision that extends to all of them, and covers them in gentleness and light.” I went out into the park filled with peace (and this is how I celebrated 9/11, with a silent peace in my head).

What is the joy in the life of a solitary? I have never been able to accept that joy was really the temporary feeling of achievement in the world, or any of the entertainments people take part in. This morning, as I was not-going-in-a-race, I wondered about myself. Why do I run? What are the depths of my running? It is hard to notice the depths of my being while I am paying attention to others; even if I am having fun serving, the silence of God gets lost. Listening to the silence, immersing my consciousness in quiet, and stilling my ego, are what fill me with peace and strengthen me.

When I am unhappy, it is because I have denied my ego some worldly accomplishment. Maybe the practice of denying the ego comes from my monastic years; it is not part of A Course in Miracles (exactly). But what seems joyful to most people seems like ego feeding to me; and I deny myself those worldly pleasures. I don’t think of worldly pleasures as sin, but as distractions from God because they let the ego’s noise supersede God’s quiet.

I have been a runner over 30 years. I ran in a skirt while I was a nun. Yes, I’ve been in many races; but logged 999 times more hours just running. When I heard about what happened to people at the extremes of endurance, I heard about a state of mind I wanted. So I entered ultra-marathons. But I know, I’ve been working at endurance as my pathway to my soul since I was 14 years old. So I now am learning to run the hours alone, without the venue of a race and its associated ego traps.

This morning I ran 10.8 miles on the flat path and 9 miles on the trail. I ran for 4h17 min.

I did get the feeling about endurance which I love. To me it is a feeling of eternity, like my mind opens up or expands for a moment. During these moments, I also get the feeling I touched some greater depth inside. This feeling is my lure for long distance. I think it is why people run 100 miles or 3,100 miles or whatever. We want to touch our deepest inner being and stay touched; but our bodies aren\’t really up to it and we have to stop.

Lethargy in the Backwaters of Summer

“Ever since humanity was able to recognize a divine existence within themselves they have been trying to seek it out, and bring it forth from within. It is never easy to establish a constant inner oneness with this divinity, as so much of our outer nature tries to deny and negate even the very existence of this part of us that lies within. The very nature of our bodies and minds is to only to accept physical lethargy and try and ride the mental merry go round that really leads us nowhere.” http://perfectionjourney.org/2010/08/02/every-step-brings-me-closer/

The perfectionjourney blog is a daily reflection on the 3,100 mile race, which is winding down this week. Several men have finished. Two or three runners have been running every day, but not enough to get to 3,100 miles; maybe only 2,900 miles!

My workout was again disconnected from the world today. I spent the last couple of months looking forward to the Lunar Trek. Now that is over. I am signed up for some more races, but they aren’t very much on my mind. Maybe I haven’t recovered my energy. Maybe it is too hot to think. Maybe I have really shifted to a new reality and I don’t yet understand what it is about. Maybe my desire for inner oneness has claimed my running life, and running has disappeared over the horizon, beyond where the ego can perceive.

The daily volume keeps being driven higher. I keep working on the weights. My diet has shifted a bit. The increased protein has added a couple of pounds. I am silent. The noon-day devil circles, looking for an opening.

I ponder inner peace. I realize that keeping my hands off worldly goals and glorious plans is necessary for the contemplative life. The Holy Spirit must make the decisions. All things are for spiritual progress and not ego satisfaction. Peace is really quiet. Peace is and un-ripple pond. A person can work out in peace; but for me at least, as soon as there is an agenda, ego worry enters.

The contemplative life is a tricky thing. It must be wanted more than anything else; or the ego will sneak in and hide it. I must be willing to keep it consciously; no matter what else is going on in my life. I must be contemplating the Holy Spirit’s work in my life, not allowing ego agenda to creep in and take over unconsciously. It shouldn\’t be that God is so hard to remember; but for those of us with egos, remembering God must be a conscious project.

I lay on my bed in the evening and seek God. When I workout, I put a thought of God in my mind and keep it there.

A Season of Contemplation – Peace

It is easy to mistake peace. Silence is hard to cherish because we think it is a failure mode, unloving or unloved. I mean, if we were successful and loved, wouldn\’t we be busy instead of in silent peace? We think something has gone wrong because peace has no attractive (addictive) emotions or adoring minions; nothing to sell books.

To be at peace is to be in love. Love, light, peace and truth are one in silence. This can be known. It is the end of egotism and material illusions.

Silent Saturday

I am not in the KC marathon today. I kicked a chair in the middle of the night on Thursday. Now, I can hardly walk. I had a dream on Thursday night about being off course in the marathon. Now, in my worldly dream, the same thing happened. This morning as I sat in my silence, I asked the question, “What is the message?”

Immediately came the answer, “Look within.” Running marathons, getting medals and bragging about it (grandiosity), which I do, is part of my ego’s little plan. To let go of little plans and accept God’s bigger plan is the point of the spiritual life and the sober life. God is not against marathons. I myself request of God to live life at a level higher than my ego; but sometimes I need God’s hand to get me out of my own littleness and hopes for grandiosity. For me, that means looking at the two dreams and accepting the message, accepting God’s help. I abandon my ego once again. Abandoning ego in favor of the Holy Spirit is a continuous project.

The ego seeks grandiosity to satisfy itself. We know that ego satisfaction only lasts a few minutes. Looking within, what do I find that is of value? What do I find that is more desired than grandiosity? Really, that is a difficult question to answer. The inner does not present itself in the same way as the ego\’s grandiosity. The satisfactions are quiet and peaceful; so much so that they really are not desired by most. Appreciation of peace must be learned. Refraining from seeking worldly kudos is impossible for most of us outside of monasteries.

I cut a hole in one of my running shoes. A little later, I will do a weight workout and then give the elliptical machine a try.

From Egomaniac to Peace

A Course in Miracles (ACIM) text, 19.IV: “The peace He (Holy Spirit) lay, deep within you and your brother, will quietly extend to every aspect of your life, surrounding you and your brother with glowing happiness and the calm awareness of complete protection…The Holy Spirit asks that you offer Him a resting place where you will rest in Him…when you look with gentle graciousness on your brother, you are beholding Him (Holy Spirit)…The Holy Spirit’s purpose rests in peace within you.”

SF’s reflection: Last night, as I meditated, I realized a thing to which I cling. In my silence, I have always hoped to find a “real” thought, a thought of clarity and magnificent greatness. This desire cuts to the heart of my ego’s quest to be greater than God. I knew in that moment, I would never return to Heaven because it might mean giving up the hope of individual greatness. I also knew I had no idea of what it meant to exist in Heaven; a place of total love and peace and joy. I talked to Jesus about my shortcoming.

I also prayed for God’s perception of some things going on in my life. I wanted to see the loving hand of God rather than judge things as a pain and being angry or hateful. I realized I never want to allow another hateful thought again in my life.

I went to bed at 9 and woke up at 3 and sort of laid awake until 4; when I got up.

I sat down with the ACIM text and read the passages quoted above. I realized I was willing to give up my ego consciousness in favor of peace. I found myself quite willing, in meditation, to rest in that wordless place of peace. In that place, where I don’t think too much, I rest in peace with the Holy Spirit and I am able to extend the presence of the Spirit into every person I think of, no matter who they are.

I walked on the tm for 30 minutes and went for a quick 17 minute run. The short runs with weight lifting or machine time are going to be my taper for the next 9 days until the Kansas City marathon.

Yesterday, in a fit of egotism, I almost pushed all the internet buttons to get myself signed up for the 2010 Boston Marathon and reserve a hotel. But it didn’t happen. Now this morning, I again realize that I have a more valuable idea, where I could seek fellowship instead of braggadocio and I need to remember that idea. I’m only getting on one airplane to go to a race next year and I need to remember that fellowship will make me happier.