Jun 6, 2017
Mindfulness meditation’s popularity is on the rise. It is a fortunate trend, people are seeing meditation as a way to better their lives, better themselves and as a key to true happiness and spiritual advancement. Reduced stress levels, increased productivity, greater success, a fuller and generally happier and better life: these are all among the popularly sought after benefits that could be found so easily with some simple daily meditation practices. While all of the above and much more could definitely be achieved, would this self-induced happiness blind us to see the real questions? Are we truly becoming happier? Or are we in denial of the truth?
What does happiness mean for you?
Defining happiness would not be possible in a single blog post. The question is probably as old as human thought and the answer would have changed with culture and history. Different people would define happiness differently, even in the same time and age, depending on their needs, social and financial background, and whatever they have learned in life.
If you do however live in the “western part” of the world, reading blogs about meditation and mindfulness, chances are, that you are among the fortunate few of the world. You life is relatively comfortable, you live in a house that provides adequate shelter and warmth, you have no want for food, it is available as simply as going to the grocery store or the nearest supermarket. Your means of transport are again simple, you might own a car, or just use public transport, or if you are more environmentally conscious, you probably ride a bicycle.
You may never be satisfied with what you have. You strive to better yourself and your circumstances. You do all you can to advance in life: Both materially (i.e. financially and professionally) and probably even spiritually. Your definition of happiness would most likely be somewhere along the lines of living in comfort with a loving family (or companion), having anything and everything you may need or desire, wanting for nothing.
So what can you do to achieve happiness?
You may not find your life comfortable at all times, having to struggle with stress induced by your work, family or relationships, you might feel depressed some days, or overwhelmed at others. While generally speaking you do not struggle to stay alive, you are more fortunate than many generations before you in the pursuit of happiness, having an important tool at your disposal most of your predecessors would have no access to: The ease to find information.
You have access to the internet: A wealth of information, worth a thousand libraries. And you use it well. You find wisdom and knowledge online, among the oceans of junk circulating the net and you put it to good use: You probably already practice meditation, or you are planning to learn it. You have found the key to happiness, it being mindfulness. It will help you to achieve your goals and live a fuller life than anyone in our world ever had the chance to. These are truly wonderful time to live in!
And you are not alone. It is truly great and comforting to know that an ever increasing number of people are awakening day by day, to the ultimate truth of the world being built of nothing but love. When you find such people, such communities and see their numbers growing day by day, can you help but to think, this is a golden dawn? A new age, a new era of spirituality on the horizon? If humanity were to follow, together we could and would change the world!
A still persistent problem
There is a little discussed problem however, that must be addressed before the true freedom of happiness could be achieved. Many people still live in denial. This might sound unimportant, but we must consider how far the consequences of denial can reach – far beyond the problem of denying facts and realities, not acknowledging the truth if it is unpleasant, or not fitting into our world-view.
There is a level of denial, known to psychology as “denial of denial”. This is far greater than denying a fact, it means that one simply cannot accept being wrong! According to the above cited Wikipedia article,
“This can be a difficult concept for many people to identify with in themselves, but is a major barrier to changing hurtful behaviors. Denial of denial involves thoughts, actions and behaviors which bolster confidence that nothing needs to be changed in one’s personal behavior. This form of denial typically overlaps with all of the other forms of denial, but involves more self-delusion. Denial at this level can have significant consequences both personally and at a societal level.”
So how could these people be helped? How would one go about changing such pathologically incorrect and destructive thought patterns?
Identifying the cause of denial
The first step anyone would take is to self-assess. before you can help others, you must be sure you can. You might not be able to help, if you cannot be sure you do not suffer from the same “condition”. This would probably not be easy, as one would rarely be honest with oneself to the point they would admit a painful truth, but it might as well be worth a try. So ask yourself: Are you personally in denial? Here’s how you might know:
Denial is a defensive behaviour. It is meant to protect you from the ill consequences of a real or perceived threat. Of course, it is not very effective at that, but denying the ills will have the protective effect of mitigating psychological damage… while at the same time robbing you of a sense of reality. Considering the below facts, your awareness of them and your reactions to them might mean you are in denial. Of course if you were, you will not have known, that is the nature of denial itself.
Freeing yourself from denial on the other hand will have a greater effect on your overall well-being and happiness than a lifetime spent in meditation, simply because the act of denial consumes a monstrous amount of energy. As the facts accumulate against which you need to defend yourself, you will need to invest more and more energy to maintain a state of mind, unacknowledging the truth and only seeing your preferred reality. This may easily lead to anxiety and a feeling of being depleted, worn and burnt out. If you are able to rid yourself of denial, all that energy will now be free to flow and be used elsewhere. You will feel not only more free but also, more healthy, less anxious or depressed – it is definitely worth trying!
The below list is a very short compendium of facts of reality people often deny. If you find yourself opposing any, give yourself a score of 2. If you do acknowledge the fact but do not see or understand its importance, you score 1 (belittling of problems may still be seen as denial):
- Half of our planet’s population is starving
- Over 20000 children die of hunger and diseases every DAY!
- Mega-corporations destroy our environment and our lives for greed and profit
- The oceans are dying
- The rainforests are shrinking
- New species disappear from the surface of the Earth forever, as a result of our own careless activity
- Overall the world is in a sad state and a new report emerges every time and now, that paints a direr picture than the previous one
- You are still only minding your personal happiness and advancement
If you have scored anywhere above zero, you are in denial. In the pursuit of happiness, it might seem the easiest way to create for ourselves an illusion of a perfect reality and blind ourselves to the truth of the real state of affairs. If you care little about the environment, the simple consideration that all the awaken and connected community accepts the fact of love being universal and among the most important things, should make you think:
If love is universal, should we not extend the love towards others? No, not only those, who we agree with, not only towards the beautiful people from the magazine covers, not only those who are fortunate enough to share our standards of living and thus have the opportunity to sit in meditation daily. Think of those who are prosecuted, who starve, who are being used and abused, those people who are used as slaves, either for their labour, or for other people’s lust. links for these have been omitted purposefully. It is enough sadness and horror for one post already, but I dare you to use Google for what it’s worth…
Does this interfere with you ideas of happiness and joy? Of being a rainbow warrior? Of love being universal? Then you are in deep denial, but all is not lost!
Use meditation to change the world now!
By having learned mindfulness or meditation practices, you have a great tool in your hand to change the state of affairs. Forget about enlightenment and spiritual advancement for a moment. And forget even more about personal, financial advancement or gain. The first problem to overcome will be to realise the problems, not only acknowledging them, but feeling them deeply, wholeheartedly – that only would lead to true compassion.
The second step is to find a way to help, to do something about it. This could be done by changing your behaviour, or habits. No step is too small to take! And the more aware you become of reality, the more chances you will have of changing it for the better! Use the below 10 mantras to start and build your own way as you become truly awake and lose the chains of your denial. You may as well reach true happiness in the process, through serving and helping others, through freeing yourself of the heavy burden of creating illusions of a perfect life.
At first glance it might seem as a list of negative thoughts, but remember, you are trying to get rid of an illusion. If you are to acknowledge the falseness of something, it might as well strike you as negative, until you fully understood each statement. If you do however spend enough time at each stage, you will find, under the hood such apparently negative assumptions offer more than just ‘nay-saying’. Mastering the below mantras and fully exploring the possibilities of such contemplations will truly elevate you to the next level of awareness. Not only giving an illusion of “knowing it all”, but enabling you to see through the web of illusion you have created for yourself. You will find gratification, peace and true calmness in the process, not by feeding your ego, but by seeing the world for what it is, and being able to find real happiness, if there is still such thing remaining in our lives.
1. I acknowledge pain exists: It is real and hurting people
This might seem unimportant, but one must start at the basics. There is so much more to it than you would think at first. When you use this meditation, either as a mantra, or a subject of contemplation, you might reach previously undiscovered depths of insight. Repeat it to yourself, or build upon the idea. For the less fortunate, the pain is real, it is every day and might seem hopeless. It is only those that are more fortunate and aware, that may become a ray of hope for such people.
2. I acknowledge that my own happiness might mean the suffering of others
This will be very difficult. If you never make it beyond this point, that is reasonably normal. Most people will never be able to truly acknowledge this fact, they will continue denying it and protect their illusion, even at the cost of their lives.
If you are willing to acknowledge, but do not know what it means, consider the following:
- Minerals and natural resources are accessed at the cost of other people’s lives or freedom
- The resources necessary to make up your standards of life and the practices these are are obtained and used are the same that hurt the planet
- Wars over resources, such as oil, diamonds or gold cost millions of lives and hurt even more
- Even if you do not think it applies to you: Your everyday household items: mobile phones, TVs, computers, etc., are built upon materials that other people died for. Every piece of gold, used in electronic equipments is stained with someone’s blood, and this is not an exaggeration
- Goods that you use to make our life easier are often assembled by slave labour, sometimes even child labour
- If you say to yourself “This is unfortunate, but cannot be helped”, you are in denial, essentially belittling the ill effect of something in the face of evidence, only to protect the comfort of your mind and ego.
3. I am personally responsible for the suffering of others
If you’ve made it past the previous acknowledgement, this will be your next great challenge to face. Building upon the previous ideas, it is not easy to see, that you are, we all are in fact most responsible for the suffering of other people. We may blame others, we may blame governments, corporations, bankers, whoever we want, but remember: neither of those entities would exist without our work, without our needs, without our desire for comfort and luxury.
Corporate greed is a fact, but it stems from our own greed, whether we like to acknowledge it or not.
4. I use more, buy more, want more than I need
The next one of the realisations you must face and you must make truly yours, is the fact that our own over-consumption is hurting our planet. Being taught to be a consumer, we only think it natural to buy. Newer, better, shinier, regardless if the old one is still functional or is still good. Do you really need it? Or is it just the hype? Advertisements and the mass hysteria of the newest trends might tell you otherwise, but in reality you do not really need that new mobile phone. You do not really need a bigger car.
The reason for this being number four, is the fact that this realisation might easily be achieved by circumventing the previous ones. If you have the slightest ability of reasoning, it is easy to see, how continuing our wasteful behaviours will and does hurt our environment. You must not be essentially compassionate to be able to change this. You must not consider others, it is enough to focus on your own future. If 20 years from now you will struggle to get fresh water, or your children/grandchildren will, it is still well within the scope of selfishness to change your habits. Why it is important to get to this point only after you’ve thoroughly examined and accepted the above three, is to give such behavioural change a deeper meaning: It is for the common good, not only yours.
5. I acknowledge that I have been selfish and so I am still
A straight continuation from the previous points. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with being selfish, you would not be alive otherwise. Every species on Earth is essentially selfish, that is how we are coded, our DNA wants nothing but to survive. Yet we are not only social creatures, where the group’s interest often overrides that of the individual, at least under ideal circumstances, but we are the part of a greater system, where collaboration is as essential as personal advancement. We cannot survive without each other, it is our selfish interest to provide for others, as we must rely on them!
6. I acknowledge that I have been in denial most of my life and I will continue to be for a long time
This is a predecessor of number 7, but also an immediate successor of the previous realisations. Once you have made sure you thoroughly feel and understand the above mantras or subjects of contemplation, it would probably be easy to see the truth of this one. We all are in denial, only enlightened beings would be completely free of denial, but rest assured you are nowhere near one of those.
If you struggle to see why you are still in denial (even if you’ve acknowledged that you probably have been all your life), remember: The denial of denial is one of the advanced stages of that condition, yet almost inescapable.
7. I am not enlightened
Not even after having realised that you might have been lying to yourself most of your life. Enlightenment would mean an unawareness of the process. If you think you are enlightened, your ego is still trying to take over your perception, imposing false realities on your mind. To think you are enlightened is basically to think you are more, better, more advanced than others. It is merely a deception of your ego saying you are after all good, trying to alleviate the anxiety of the realisation that you might have been hurtful to other people, and all inhabitants of our planet without realising, even though you were sure you hurt none.
Your ego is trying to reach out, stating that you are above and beyond all thins now. It might have been true, but all of the above does not apply to you any longer. You transcend all that… Which is the very falsehood of the idea. Not are you only still responsible, but you must be, to be able to further advance, for acknowledgements were only the first step, the real works starts once you’ve been through all that.
If you still think you are enlightened in any way, just read this post explaining the above concept of why you are not, in greater detail.
8. I am responsible for my past, present and future actions, whether I have been aware of them or not
An important step on the way of truly changing the world. You must claim your responsibility, not only for the good you may have done but for all the evil you may have committed along the way, unknowing, unaware of doing harm. For harm has been done an is being done by yourself simply because of your unawareness. Claiming responsibility will help you identify such problems and deal with them much more effectively.
9. Infinite growth does not exist. Profit does not exist. I own nothing
While these might seem like realisations you have been through a while ago, it is now time to revisit these ideas in the light of your previous meditations. Of course you know, that we cannot infinitely exploit resources. Of course you have already realised that the corporate culture of continuously producing profit (and increasing profit!) is insane. There is no system in the Universe from which you can get out more than you’ve invested, that would be denying elementary physics! Yet the world economy depends on such insane ideas of profit and growth.
Examine the questions again: Where does the profit come from? All those that some gain in doing “business” would come from somewhere. Then reflect back upon the pain inflicted over the less fortunate of the Earth’s population, the majority of the Earth’s population! It is their tears, sweat and blood that creates the profit. It is their lives their hunger and pain. By now you must see where your personal responsibility lies. Yes, that is right, even just by the seemingly harmless act of working for such corporations. Even just by believing in their innocence. Even just by believing in your own innocence.
Because personal profit works along the same lines. Wanting bigger nicer, newer, more… Thinking we own objects, thinking we own the Earth, thinking we own other people’s lives. All false, a blatant lie. By now you must be aware of this all. So put it into perspective of what you have realised earlier. Meditate on this as long as necessary to totally disseminate your illusion of profit, growth and ownership, and the lack of your own, personal responsibility. Then you will be ready to truly change to world…
10. I can and will change myself! I can and will change the world!
If you have really arrived at this stage of mindfulness, you have already changed yourself! If you are really here, you are changing the world with every breath. By now you must be more compassionate and caring. By now you are looking for solutions for the above problems, by now you are looking for ways you can contribute for other people’s well-being and the conservation of the environment. You might have done so before, but now you are able to do it while you recognise your own responsibility. Now you will not think that helping will eradicate your own flaws. By now you will not treat helping others as a ticket to save yourself from what you may have done before…
By now you know it all. You are still responsible. But you can change things!
Do not lie to yourself. I you have skipped any of the above points, or you thought you need not go through those stages, because you have already been way above all this, you are still in denial. 99.99% of people who ever attempt to get to this stage will never arrive. If you think you arrived here, or just feel it, however instinctively or intuitively, you are wrong. You are then further away from the truth than you’ve ever been before! To be here would mean the total eradication of your own ego, your own self-importance. Then you would not be thinking about yourself at all…
But that is all right. Not everyone is capable of it, neither is it necessary. Anywhere you are at any stage you arrive at and find your own limitations, you are already more advanced than most. Then you would be at least able to acknowledge to yourself, that you do indeed have limitations, you are not perfect and you will never be. You cannot be faultless and you shouldn’t be! By being this much honest with yourself, you will have taken the greatest step to overcome denial! And then you are ready to advance on the above path once again.
You may have been told, you may have thought or felt being awaken, being more “in the know” than others. If it came without the realisation of your personal responsibility, that continues even after the realisation, you have only been replacing a pre-existing illusion with a new one. You may deny any aspect of reality, but the most difficult thing to acknowledge will be your own flaws. Our egos like to think we are perfect that we are ultimate and limitless, but the fact is, this very ego imposes most limitations you have or have not ever experienced in your life.
The process of overcoming the ego is a painful, long and difficult one, nevertheless, this is the only real way of advancement in your life. If you chose the path of being honest with yourself, you will have done a greater service to humankind than many before you. Arriving to any stage of realising your own involvement will serve as an immediate relief from the burden of denial, so deeply rooted in our lives.