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On Temporary Happiness

Is "Permanence" the True Test for Spiritual Value?

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Do temporary things bring real happiness? This is the question we will briefly explore here. Thus, while I do not see myself as a guru by any means, by the end of this short exchange, I found myself grinning from ear to ear and feeling like a wise old Italian fellow. Why? Because I once more realized that the truest things in life are often the most counter intuitive. Until you add emergence, that is, at which point, things often become quite clear.

On October 13, George wrote and asked ...


I really like your page, very interesting stuff.

Can you please answer my question: The UNCONSCIOUS MIND: it can bring positive and negative shit, for example, fear or positive beliefs. The CONSCIOUS MIND is being present; no inner chat; the mind is quiet.

I read a book about Buddha who can be conscious, in the Now, and they are detached from their mind. I read another book, the power of unconscious mind, which show how to create good beliefs etc.

This is CONTRADICTORY. I'm confused. Is it better to NOT USE the unconscious by being present, OR to use subconscious mind, anyway it is always working and Buddha stuff is bullshit.

Thanks a lot to answer ... really

That day, I wrote back and said ...

You are always using all three, although "using" implies that you choose what you do when rather, we mostly just run on auto pilot. Even when we are conscious.

We are who we are. That's what makes Emergence so important. Emergence is the only true way to alter your auto pilot.

Stop looking so deep and just work really hard on learning who you are on auto pilot. Then pick the stuff you want to alter and work really hard on that.

Good luck.


The next day, George wrote back and asked ...

I wanted to know if I should stop to run unconscious mind because I sometimes have some anxieties. So unconscious equals "negative" for me, but unconscious is so powerful and can bring so much more positive stuff that it's silly to stop it. Agree?

I think this anxiety is because of a bad belief, so I just have to change the belief and let my unconscious mind run.


Several days later, I wrote back and said ...

Hi George,

I'm not sure I am following you, but I'll do my best to comment usefully.

I, myself, use a three part metaphoric structure for what contains (holds; stores; organizes) what we experience. In other words, I separate the containers which hold our experiences (the container of our minds) from the experiences themselves (from what is in our minds).

To wit, I use the words, "conscious," "subconscious," and "unconscious" as if they were three depths in a lake.

Thus, I see the "conscious" as what is immediately above the water; what you can visualize clearly on the screen of your mind (like a fish jumping out of the water.)

Then, I see the "subconscious" as being what is immediately below the water, such as fish which are swimming just below the surface. You can see them but not clearly.

Finally, I see the "unconscious" as what is at the bottom of the lake, the things you can not see but sometimes have a sense of.

My point?

No part of the container of our minds is, in and of itself, "negative" or "positive," just like no part of any other container is better or worse than any other part. Each part of any container simply serves a purpose, each best for what it has been designed for.

The stuff we have a hard time seeing, things that distress us, is best stored in the unconscious part of our minds. The stuff we need in our everyday lives and which is relatively benign or even pleasant is best stored in the subconscious part of our minds. Finally, the stuff we need to pay particularly close attention to, pleasant or unpleasant, is best stored in the conscious part of our minds.

"Anxiety" is almost always stored in the unconscious part of our minds. In fact, this is part of why it makes us so uncomfortable; we can't see what is causing the discomfort.

Know that much of the love we receive in life is also stored in the unconscious as well. Why? I'd guess because most of us find it hard to believe we are so loved. Thus, we store these experiences in the unconscious so as to later come back to them and figure them out.

Finally, when I say "we store," I do not mean to imply we chose to do this. Only that this is how is appears in this metaphor. And functionally appears in our lives.

George, the "anxiety" may be generating many "bad beliefs." But these believes are the result of the anxiety and not the cause. The cause? Whatever you cannot picture on the screen of your mind.

For instance, years ago I taught a class wherein a man could not picture at all. During the course of this class, I was able to help this man to once again picture. His first scene? Being six years old and seeing the Haitian police take his father away, never to be seen again. After that moment, this man literally could not picture anything on the screen of his mind, that is, until I helped him that day.

Should you wish to explore this anxiety further, you have but to sit and try to visualize what it would look like on the screen of your mind. What would you be seeing?

Now make it up. The literal truth of what you are seeing simply does not matter.

What does matter?

That you see something. Anything at all.

Write back and let me know how you do



Sunday, June 19th


I understand now totally what I wanted to know. Thanks a lot from your answer. Still, I have small doubt about that.

I read books about the Buddhists who try to get happy "themselves"; the joy of BEING. They say that external things bring you happiness but not in the long term.

I think this is true, that if you buy a Ferrari, you can be happy, but only temporarily, instead of being happy with your friends, or even DEEPER, just being happy to live; to exist. This idea has given me a bad limiting belief; that listening to the music I like, for instance, is bad because it's not the "good deep happiness," because it is an external thing.

Confirm me that external things are not BAD, but just as good to get also?

Cheers Steven

that day, I wrote back and said ...

Hi George,

One of the world's most sacred books, the Tao Te Ching starts with, "The tao that can be told is not the eternal tao." My point?

You might be better off trying to use less of other peoples' words to guide your life and more of your own life experience. As I mentioned, nothing is good or bad in and of itself. The context in which we perceive these things is what makes things so. And even then, words rarely describe the full meaning of anything. Except of course when they are used to describe visual experiences.

To wit, I love two seater convertible sports cars and have owned several over the course of my life time. And when I picture myself in one; in this moment, a 1976 MGB; I see myself driving to meet a then new girlfriend in Philadelphia on a beautiful Summer morning.

Even now, many years later, I smile picturing it. This morning turned out to be one of the favorite mornings of my whole life. Me, in a red convertible, cruising to Philadelphia. In truth, that car was small, uncomfortable, and frequently in need of repair. But in that context, on that beautiful, warm Summer morning, driving it was as deeply intoxicating as the best of "conventional" spiritual experiences. In fact, this event is still one of my favorite spiritual experiences.

Thus, despite what you read from some Buddhists about such things being temporary, this experience; my driving in a red convertible; is just as fresh and new today as the day it happened to me, almost twenty years ago.

So much for such things being temporary.

George, listen to the music you like and stop worrying whether it will last of not. If I had worried whether that relationship would last or not, I would not have had that morning. I would have spent it as you seem to frequently do; worrying whether of not what I was contemplating was spiritual enough.

In fact, I find, the best spiritual experiences, what I call, "emergences," transit in a heartbeat and yet last for all of eternity.

Spiritual is "being yourself." Period.



P. S. I am thinking that our little conversation might be a good one to post on my site, anonymously, of course. So if it would be OK with you, I'd like to post it as an article on what makes something "spiritual ." Please do let me know.

That morning, George wrote back and said ...

Okay, these Buddhists spend all their life in mediation, trying to get into a state. I'm now convinced that life is more than THAT! LOL. Everything is designed to be enjoyed. God don't created life in order for us to just stay seated and meditate.

Ok. Now I'll stop asking myself questions and be spontaneous.

See ya Steven!

And moments later, I wrote ...

Hi George,

I have to say, reading your reply has just made me grin from ear to ear. More over, if more people could see the truth in what you've just said, surely they would have what amounts to a very real guideline to having a very joyous life. And to having as many deeply spiritual experiences as we human beings could ever hope to have.

I wish you the best,


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