Authentic values and consolations

 

The ultimate goal of all of our strivings and struggles is to improve the quality of experience, and the best experiences in life are those which grow organically in a loving supportive environment; I call them authentic values, true joys, or ‘the real goods’ (e.g. original art and music, delicious home-cooked meals, genuine intimate relationships, rewarding and meaningful work, an unspoilt natural environment). They are each unique, take time, and cannot be forced. We are all searching for a deep sense of belonging and connection to the earth and to other people, to feel loved and cared for, to be in optimal mental and physical health, to do rewarding work in which we serve others, to express our unique individuality, to beautify our world, and leave it a better place for our children. In an ideal situation, these are the natural outcomes that flow from living a life of integrity and passion, with mind, body and spirit operating in harmony within our physical and social environment.

When these authentic values and rich experiences are not available for whatever reason, or we are not willing or able to do what it takes to nurture their creation, we are left with surrogate values or ‘consolations’ (e.g. mass-produced corporate art and music, pre-packaged meals and fast food, prostitution and pornography, undignified and dehumanizing work, artificial manufactured landscapes) which do not fully meet our needs but provide a lower degree of satisfaction. These compensatory measures may include addictive behaviours involving consumable goods such as drugs, alcohol, sex, food or other substances and commodities; social games and ‘one-upmanship’ through insults, complaints, blaming, projections and derogatory comparisons; and accumulation of excess money, possessions, status or power. All of these consolations stem from a feeling of powerless victimization when we do not get the experience we really want to have. They all arise out of a feeling of lacking something, of inadequacy, accompanied by the belief that whatever course of action we are taking will somehow fill the void and relieve us of this sense of inadequacy. Of course, none of these consolations provide long-term satisfaction; they only produce a short-term payoff at best, followed by a worsening of the symptom once the payoff wears off. They are all various ways of selling ourselves short by accepting less than we deserve.

The first step to address this dilemma is to recognize consolations and compensations for what they are, namely, a short-term shallow band-aid for a deeper need. We must commit to follow the path towards a deeper change, towards the true rewards. The best way that I know of is to cultivate a feeling of complete satisfaction in our own being. I am referring to a state of mind that does not seek elsewhere for anything to fill a void, because it does not recognize any void to begin with. As a consciousness that is connected to eternity and all of creation, one is already full, complete and perfect in this very moment, and will always be such; hence, since nothing is missing, there is nothing to seek; since nothing is broken, there is nothing to fix. We can simply rest our awareness in the present moment, feeling the body-mind from the inside, without any need to search for what is not needed.

On a practical level, this translates into the authentic values mentioned earlier once we learn to live a simple life, paying full attention to every little detail of every moment, and recognizing that the rewards we seek can only be experienced by giving up the grasping and addictive behaviour of the narrow mind, in favour of an attitude of service and gratitude. Putting attention and care into every action, we can serve humanity by even the smallest act. Developing sensitivity and awareness of our internal feelings, sensations, thoughts and impulses will allow us to maintain a balanced and naturally vibrant state of health, detecting and correcting any imbalances as soon as they occur. Paying attention to our actions also allows us to develop the skills and sensitivity needed to bring about beautiful and original creations. Through equanimity – a state of deep calm acceptance of the present moment – we can see all of the struggles and setbacks of life as lessons along the path, moving in the direction of higher, more enlightened states of being. The ultimate result of all this is that we develop a compassionate heart that wants to guide others towards the same path by recognizing the cycles and patterns that bring about suffering and replacing them with patterns that bring about peace and health. Of course, we cannot ignore the collective social dimension and the political-economic systems which prolong and propagate sub-standard outcomes, and there is work to be done to bring about systematic change, but all lasting change begins within people’s hearts and minds before we see the visible results in the world.


 

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~ by spiritualseeker1 on October 24, 2011.

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