Saturday, March 31, 2012

How "Misery Bear" Reminded Me of the Nature of Happiness

Watch "The Teddynator" on YouTube

This might sound weird to some, but the above video really spoke to me on the nature of happiness. Yes, it's very comedic in nature, but it still makes some good points, I believe, on how to be happy. Before I go on, I will request those reading this post to watch the video first.

Watched it? Good. Now I will proceed.

Believe me, there have been some times when I wish happiness was as easy as hooking up a machine to one's person and enjoying happiness at the flip of a switch. That's probably what motivates some people, including myself, to take antidepressants. However, as I've discovered, happiness is never that easy. That's not to say antidepressants don't help some people - in my case, while they don't make me happy, I've found they keep my mood stable so I'm less likely to suffer abysmal emotional lows. But again, they don't make me happy, because happiness isn't that simple.

It could be inferred from the video that happiness, or at least the potential to be happy, comes from within. After all, Misery Bear was disappointed in the lack of results from the machine, until the new him literally showed up. To me, it's a metaphor that we all have happiness potential within ourselves. The thing is, it can be a struggle to bring out that happiness within us, as evidenced by Misery Bear's new self turning out to be a robot trying to kill him. Again, I regard that as a symbol that happiness can only emerge once we know ourselves. We all have internal demons to conquer, and happiness is the reward for overcoming them. I know I'd certainly feel better about myself if I successfully took down a robot version of myself trying to kill me!

Thankfully I don't have to fight a robot. To know what truly makes me happy, I have yoga. And I'm talking about the full spectrum of it, not just the asanas (though they help as exercise). This is the purpose of yoga, I believe: to help us overcome our deficiencies that prevent our happiness. I'm not saying yoga will work for everyone, but it's worked for me, so I thankfully don't have to literally fight an evil version of myself! The bottom line is we need some way of knowing ourselves so we know how to dig deep inside for that happiness, so we don't have to rely on external conditions for it.

Although if anyone does see a robotic version of me out there, try to be careful around it. ;-)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Bhagavad Gita Discussion: Chapter 3

I know I said I would read the Bhagavad Gita and discuss my interpretations...and I won't let you down! So here at last, after what must've been an insufferably long time, are my thoughts on Chapter 3, which is on the topic of karma.

I have to admit - this chapter was a difficult one for me to read. I wasn't upset by any of it, it was just so dense and full of meaning (sometimes appearing contradictory to me at first) that it's hard for me to make heads or tails of it. Nonetheless, I shall make an attempt.

To me, this chapter seems to elaborate upon two key concepts as they relate to performing actions and the karma associated with them: mindfulness, and detachment. One thing this chapter says right away that I can definitely agree with is that we need to perform actions, we need to do things; in other words, we are born into this life to live it. There is no use shuttering away oneself from life's experiences, because they're the only way one can learn. Which brings me to one point I've just thought of in this regard, and that is one reason why we suffer: in the event we inflict it on others (sadly, we can't avoid it completely, sometimes it happens quite by accident), our suffering of the same event gives us an idea of what we've done. For example, I saw on this one TV show the process some police officers go through to get certified to use a taser, and part of it involves getting shot with a taser, so the officer knows how it feels! The idea is that it will (hopefully) encourage police to only use tasers when the situation really requires it. So in the event we do something to someone else, and haven't experienced it ourselves, karma makes sure that happens to us in one way or another. I think that is also why this chapter talks about the senses and mastery over them, in other words mindfulness. The senses are there to teach us what experience and action feel like, so therefore they aren't the end-all-be-all of existence. The senses are important, but we control our actions, not the senses.

That brings me to the next aspect of this chapter: detachment. I understand the principle of detachment and its benefits, as it can lead to altruism and selflessness. But there is the other side of the coin, where detachment can be used for evil. For example, if you're completely detached from the results of action, then one could conceivably do very bad things - what would stop you from committing murder if you weren't attached to the result? Ditto with doing things in the name of God: for every Mother Teresa there's an Osama bin Laden. (And yes, I know all religions, including Christianity, have infamous figures who have committed crimes against humanity in the name of religion. Osama bin Laden was just the easiest one I could think of.)

So if one's not supposed to be attached to the results of action, how does one know what's good and what's evil? That, I believe, is why Krishna invoked following the example of gurus. Gurus are supposed to be models in this regard, as Krishna himself said that if he were to partake in evil action, society would follow suit and collapse, etc. But again this can be problematic - many people who proclaim themselves as a guru of some sort all have different ideas as to what's good and what's evil. How do you know which gurus are good and which ones just want to brainwash their followers to commit evil for them?

The answer to that question, I believe, lies in self knowledge. Krishna invoked that aspect of being as a way of telling us to ultimately follow what our own experiences tell us is good or evil. That knowledge of self is supposed to tell one who to follow in action - that to know who is a true guru for oneself, one has to know oneself first.

There was a lot to sift through in chapter took some considerable effort to come up with those conclusions and then connect the dots, so to speak. However, I hope my interpretation at least makes sense - chime in the Comments section with what you think, as always.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Faltering, Failing, Falling Away?

I know I'm not perfect, but oftentimes it seems the world keeps demanding me to be such. All I can do is improve, but even so it seems I've reached my limit, a plateau.

I've done better with controlling my diabetes, but even so, I've faltered with diet on occasion. I've tried to be a better person socially, but I've seemed to have failed with that. Even with my meditation and prayers to Lord Ganesha, it seems as if my dedication is falling away. Am I doing better? Yes, better emotionally than I have in a long time. Still, it seems as if the improvements I've made to my life are too little, too late. That fact threatens to erode all I've worked for so far.

It is in a time like this, I wonder...what is it that I have to offer the world? Why has God not made me perfect, so I can better contribute to the world? What could the world possibly have to gain from my flawed being? I honestly do not know the answer to that question.

Is the world asking too much of me, or am I asking too much of the world? What is my role or place in it all? It seems in light of my repeated mistakes and failings of moral character and willpower the answers to all of my questions of existence grow ever more distant.

I wish and pray for some sort of sign, something that will tell me that even the way I am now is of some benefit to the universe. Problem is, I wouldn't know such a sign unless it was blatantly obvious and metaphorically slapped me in the face. Or perhaps my mind is too much like a sieve and I keep forgetting something I've discovered already, I don't know.

I keep questing, but I keep stumbling. I know I'm on the right path, but I don't think I have the stamina to walk it.

My thoughts keep bouncing to and fro. But my overall question remains: why am I imperfect in a world that seeks perfection from me?