This section will feature spiritual principles, gleaned from various writers, that can enhance our lives and increase our happiness. The first article in this series is from Deepak Chopra and based on his book Why is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism.
Intuition is one of the most powerful forces in the universe which is a field of infinite possibilities – as is every human life. Life needs to have meaning even though on the surface, from a materialistic viewpoint, it may look like a stream of random physical events. Meaning is born deep within. Spiritual optimism is also an inner experience – based on love, beauty, creativity and truth that a person discovers at the level of the soul. Intuition is what we work with when we explore ourselves on the inner plane. All insights – both spiritual and scientific – ultimately come through intuition, “hearing the music of the spheres” to quote Albert Einstein.
On a spiritual path, certain basic principles come to be realized – observed rather than just believed. These realizations will lead to change and transformation. The principles are as follows:
The healthiest response to life is laughter
This principle is an antidote to fear and sorrow by experiencing life as joyous. A shift in consciousness is needed in a material world that is dominated by crises and suffering and to which the natural response is worry and anxiety. The key realization, despite surface appearances, is that life couldn’t exist without an underlying creativity and ongoing creation, which in themselves are an expression of ecstasy. A materialistic view denies all that sustains life and makes it worth living – beauty, truth, love, ethics, community, discovery, inner growth, and higher consciousness – all of which depends on intuition. To realize reality more the way it is – to see God more real than the material world – takes a commitment to joy. Moments of happiness and joy are glimpses of eternal reality. “Ha-ha” (laughter) can also be related to “aha” (insight). With time and practice the glimpses will become the norm, rather than the exception. This will mean growth in God-realization.
There is always reason to be grateful
This principle is an antidote to victimization and implies that we are seen and provided for. While we see life in nature as orderly and working as a part of a magnificent scheme, we tend to view ourselves as victims of illness, aging, disasters and death. How can God be both the author of pleasure and pain? If God is the intelligence behind all, he is responsible for all. The key, however, is to focus on the benevolent aspects of God. By choosing gratitude, we connect to a higher vision of life and pay attention to those aspects of God that demonstrate love, truth, beauty, order, and spiritual evolution. By focusing on these qualities, we make them expand in our lives. Bit by bit, a picture of benevolent life will replace the threatening image that has been with us since infancy. To a large degree, external events are projection of our consciousness. Once we realize that each of us is a projector of our reality, our feelings of victimization will start dissolving.
We belong to the scheme of the universe – hence there is nothing to be afraid of
This principle is an antidote to insecurity. While the world bombards us with bad news at every step, which results in existential anxiety, we can change our perspective. If we see ourselves as safe and cared for through a higher intelligence that resides within us, we can learn to reject fear little by little. Obviously, life won’t be free of all problems and discomforts. But realizing that God has provided us with everything needed to meet the challenges of life, we’ll be secure. We are each an actor in a personal drama as well as on a larger stage where danger may exist. But we can have confidence that the role we have been assigned is tailor-made and working for our evolution. It is not risk-free, but is driven by choices made at the soul level. While fear tries to convince us that we are helpless victims of chance, at the deepest level of the soul, we are the author of everything that happens.
Our soul cherishes every aspect of our life
This principle is an antidote to feeling undervalued. Our worth really is absolute and all that happens to us – whether it feels good or not at the time – is a part of a divine plan unfolding from the level of the soul. While in the materialistic world, individual worth is driven by ego and achievement, spiritual and wisdom traditions teach that our value doesn’t depend on success. Rather, it is the value of a soul which has God’s image and therefore infinite potential. So every event is really happening not just to a person but to a soul, and so, because of the soul’s value, should be cherished.
While our self-worth tends to rise and fall with the ups and downs of life, from a soul’s point of view, change occurs against the backdrop of non-change. The task is to discover what part of ourselves doesn’t change – which, of course, is not the mind or body. Meditation becomes useful in this discovery as it takes us to an inner silence – awareness being aware of itself, also known as mindfulness. Silence is the womb of creation from which spring thoughts, sensations, and external events. Therefore meditation is a creative event through which we are reclaiming authorship of our life. In its broader sense, meditation can be both silence and activity. In both we practice awareness and alertness – sometimes devoted to change and sometimes to non-change. This is the shift in consciousness that allows us to live from the level of the soul.
There is a plan and our soul knows what it is
This is an antidote to meaninglessness. Our life has a purpose, which we determine at the soul level. That purpose then unfolds as part of the divine plan. With a deep connection to the plan, nothing can stop us fulfilling our purpose. The way the plan works in practical terms depends largely on perception. Perception and awareness develop and grow as we mature. At the ego stage, perception is limited to the individual and hence quite narrow. The focus is the self. The ego feels powerful, but in reality, external forces have been given authority to dictate events. With expanding perception also expands the inner potential. At the level of the soul, awareness grows of the care and intelligence in creation, the various aspects of truth and beauty, and ultimately the awareness of God. The expansion of consciousness really is the divine plan. As our awareness keeps growing, so does the awareness that we are a part of the divine plan.
Ecstasy is the energy of the spirit. When life flows, ecstasy is natural.
This principle is the antidote to inertia. Potentially, infinite energy is available to us as co-creators with God. We just need to connect to it. If our life flows, there is connection to the higher energy because creative flow is the operating rule of the cosmos. If on the other hand there is inertia and habit, the connection is tenuous. Energy takes many forms. We mostly operate at the superficial level generated by the ego – anger, fear, competitive drive to achieve, and so on. The ego falls prey to the illusion that only these energies are real and ignores the higher and lower energies. The “lower” energies dominate the body and its intricate operations. The higher energies are the subtle forces of the soul – love, compassion, truth and the knowledge of God. The subtlest energy is the original stuff of creation. It lies on the fine line between existence and non-existence, and is the first wisp of God’s creative thought. In most spiritual traditions, this vibration is known as “I am”, and when experienced, it feels like pure ecstasy or bliss-consciousness.
The full range of these energies is available to us – but which we call on depends on our level of consciousness. The ego and the world at large operate at the gross level, but all of us experience the subtle levels from time to time in wishes coming true and desires manifesting. The spiritual path leads us into subtler levels of the mind and soul, and with each step, new levels of energy become available until unity with God is achieved. At that point, our wishes and desires are the same as God’s and our co-creator potential becomes activated.
There is a creative solution to every problem. Every possibility holds the promise of abundance.
This principle is an antidote to failure. Every problem has its own solution (outside the constraints of time, the answer arises together with the question), but because of our limited minds, we see only the problem. Technological and scientific development and progress are more a distraction than solutions to our deep problems such as suffering, lack of love, and absence of peace. All problems are rooted in consciousness, therefore the solution is always a shift in consciousness.
Happiness needs to come from the soul level. When it does, action becomes spontaneous and comes with joy and results. In this higher state of consciousness, no gap appears between desire and fulfilment. This is the opposite to our common perception of discontinuity, failure, and separation often resulting from struggle and striving. Spiritual growth doesn’t demand a busy life of service – which in reality can be both selfish and miserable. Rather, those who pursue peace, compassion, and intimacy with their souls as their way to God-realization benefit humanity as a whole and do much towards alleviating human suffering.
Obstacles are opportunities in disguise
This principle is an antidote to inflexibility. It tells us that obstacles are signals from consciousness that we need to change direction. If our mind is open, it will perceive the next opportunity to do so. Ego deals with obstacles by exerting force. This has results, but at high cost. The ego’s way is obstacle to spiritual growth. Therefore to grow, we need to be flexible, rather than dealing with obstacles in the established ways. Since challenges often come unexpectedly, we can’t plan for them in advance – even though many try to do so. While this brings a measure of security, it also shuts out the unknown – life’s mysteries and our own potential. For life to remain fresh, our responses must break free from established patterns. The secret is to abandon old habits and trust in spontaneity. Rather than reacting in familiar ways or inventing new ways, be open to the next reaction to come from within of its own accord.
Evolution leads the way through desire
This principle is an antidote to hypocrisy. Our genuine desires show us the way to real growth – therefore be real without putting on an image. We are guided by the things that attract and deeply interest us. Whatever captivates us in the visible world is also trying to wake us up. If we follow an impulse of love, gratitude, compassion, kindness, faith, art or science – they will all expand and reveal themselves as divine. Wherever the human mind wants to expand, God will be waiting at the end of the line.
Freedom is letting go
This principle is an antidote to attachment. If we let go of what isn’t real in our life, what will be left will be the real – God. Yet sometimes negative traits and situations are very firmly attached to us – things such as abuse, addictions, anger, and fear. This is because they are tied to an underlying energy that doesn’t want to move. The key is to let go the stuck energy that keeps sending the same old messages, such as anger and fear. These are two emotional energies that most persistently haunt us and can be dealt with as follows.
- Be alert – recognize and acknowledge your feelings of fear or anger.
- Be objective – don’t identify with the feeling, see it as energy or electricity that are universal, not personal.
- Detach from the specifics – the content of the situation, such as what made you angry, and release your anger by yourself, irrespective of what caused it.
- Take responsibility – your energy is yours, it doesn’t matter what brought it about or who was right / wrong. Your role is to let go of this energy and gain freedom.
- Don’t expect anyone to do it for you – there is divine guidance, but the road to freedom is through our mind, body and soul. Others can offer solace, but we ourselves need to take our inner journey.
- Let the body participate – we have metabolized our past and given it sanctuary in our body. Indeed, “the issues are in the tissues”. Don’t resist the body’s natural reactions as it releases stuck energy, but don’t inflict them on others – it is a private process.
- Explore and discover – learn who you really are. Pay less attention to what you have learned from others about yourself – release the unresolved energy created by past conditioning.
- Value freedom above everything – follow your true desires, but not those of your ego or fantasies. That is the divine plan for each person. Spiritual freedom releases us into infinite Being, at which point we encounter who we really are. Each impulse to be free will lead us in the right direction.
By letting go of stuck energies, we let go of our past. The past is a false guide to the future. If we go deep enough, we can let go of time itself – in which lies ultimate freedom.
Reference: Deepak Chopra, Why is God Laughing? The Path to Joy and Spiritual Optimism.
Photo: Shirley Serban