Friday, May 20, 2011

Beyond Right and Wrong

So my last post was about Ric Elias' TEDtalk. In his talk, the video and transcript of which is in the previous post, he says that one of the things he learned in his encounter with what seemed to be near-certain death, was that he wanted to eliminate negative thoughts, negative energy from his life.

As he said, "I don't try to be right, I choose to be happy."

A friend of mine told me a story about another friend who had a really awful relationship with her mother. Her mother was cold, distant and unloving, as the account went. And so this person sought therapy, and this was one reason. One day she was airing her grievances against her mother. And the therapist said, "Yes. That's all true. But you can be right, or you can be happy."

How interesting that Ric Elias' sudden flash of insight should approximate so closely this therapist's words.

It seems to me that both Elias and the therapist are on to something: For someone to be right, someone else has to be wrong. But what if you simply chose not to be concerned with being right or wrong? What if you decided to look at everything with the eye of awareness open? Sure someone might cut you off in traffic, or yes, your mother might have been a cold, heartless headcase. But what do you gain by dwelling on this? What if you just look at it as the way of the world, much of which you have no control over? Your set of problems may be bad, yes. But you can't pick your mother. You can't control the guy who cut you off in traffic. And besides, someone else has different problems, which you were fortunate enough to avoid. The point is, there's no escape from problems. Everyone has something, or someone, that "wrongs" them. But what if you look at these things as your unique path, the things you need in this life to help you learn and grow?

You can choose to be right, or you can be happy.

I am rereading yogi Steve Ross' "Happy Yoga," and he's able to say all of this far better than I am, so check out his book if you're interested in seeing how you can transcend the ego's need to be right, to be in control. More and more, I surrender my ego, and when I do, I am choosing to be happy. It works. (Conversely, I recognize that when I fail to surrender my ego, and I think I'm in control, that is when I suffer most.)

(This, by the way, does not mean you should suffer the things that *are* under your control. If someone is hurting you, you have choices you can make to remove yourself from that situation. If you are in a bad job or are having financial problems, there are steps you can take. Learn how to discern what you have control over and what you don't, rather than wasting energy trying to control the things you can't.)

Ric Elias said he was given the gift of not dying. The chance to be on Earth and love and live and breathe is so incredibly rare! Of all the life forms on this planet, humans are a tiny percentage! Here you are, with a consciousness and a spirit and a body that can experience and sense this miraculous play of the divine. And you choose to yell at inept motorists? And you choose to linger in memories of an unhappy past? Even if all the facts are true, and you are "right," that is cold comfort when compared to what you could have--a life lived in blissful acceptance and surrender to the Mystery.