If we were to take a survey of all seven billion people and ask everyone what is it that you want above all else in life most people would respond a better relationship or an intimate relationship or more money or better health or a nicer house or a better job or preferably no job at all a family friendship etc some people would ask for less tangible things knowledge of God or enlightenment but if we were to say to these people if you knew that your next intimate relationship would cause you misery would you still want it if we knew that if you knew that having more money would make you miserable would you still desire it if you knew that enlightenment would make you miserable would you desire it everyone would of course say no just from that simple fact it should be clear to us that what we really want is not an intimate relationship better health more money knowledge of God or enlightenment what we truly seek is the happiness we believe will be derived from them is there anything you can imagine desiring more than happiness and if you can imagine anything would you not desire that thing simply because it will make you happy see clearly that the one thing anybody ever truly longs for is happiness notice also that there have been many instances in our lives when we have been happy and each of these instances of happiness was preceded by the acquisition of an object a substance and activity a relationship when we were five year five years old it was the trip to the sea that seemed to make us happy when we were 10 years old it was on winning the competition at school that made us happy when we were a teenager it was our first romantic relationship that made us happy when we were in our twenties it was our first job that made us happy in our thirties our first home that made us happy etc etc but in each of these cases the experience of happiness itself was always the same experience the experience of happiness age 10 when we won the competition at school was exactly the same experience as the experience of happiness that we felt twenty years later when we bought our first home or got married or had our first child or whatever it was notice also that whatever it is that makes us happy doesn't always make us happy it sometimes makes us miserable if that were not the case we would all be happily married to the first person we ever fell in love with we all know that particularly intimate relationship can the same relationship can produce the greatest happiness and the greatest misery we have ever experienced if the happiness was really caused by the object or the activity or the relationship then as long as that relationship was present happiness would be present but simply the fact that an object an activity a relationship can make us happy one day and miserable the next should be all the information we need to enable us to see clearly that happiness can never be derived from an object a substance an activity or a relationship what is it that makes it seem as if objects activities relationships cause happiness it is simply that we say yes to that object activity or relationship if we say yes to it we experience happiness if we say no to it we experience misery the happiness has got absolutely nothing to do with the object the activity or the relationship it has everything to do with what takes place in our mind and our heart it might seem that happiness is an intermittent experience that fluctuates with all other experiences and as such it is something that is experienced from time to time that is like imagining that a little patch of the blue sky that opens up in the cloud cover is and a localized temporary appearance of the sky patch of blue sky is not a local temporary appearance of the sky it is simply an an opening in the clouds onto the ever present reality of the sky happiness is like that every moment of happiness is a little window in our experience of the ever present background of essential being whose nature is happiness itself what is it that causes this this opening of the cloud cover what is it that gives us access to this ever-present background of happiness simply our saying yes to the current situation if we say no to the current situation that is the closing of the clouds and the obscuring of the other present background of happiness experience of happiness has absolutely nothing to do with the objective content of our experience to invest one's desire for happiness in the objective content of experience is madness it is a recipe for misery if we believe that a person can make us happy one day that person will by definition make us miserable the next all that is required to experience continuous peace and happiness is to say yes to our current circumstance in fact it's not even necessary to say yes to it this openness this allowing this welcoming of experience is the nature of awareness it is what we are it is not something we have to do we do not have to make an effort to say yes the first words I ever heard Francis say well meditation is a universal yes saying to everything this universal yes saying to everything is the nature of our self it is not something we have to practice or do it is what we are the space of this room does not negotiate every person who enters it wondering whether or not the space approves of the person or not the nature of the space is to say yes to everything that appears within it however wonderful or offered it may be we are like that we awareness are like that our nature is this openness we do not have to practice this openness this yes saying to everything it is what we are it is not what we do what we do what the mind does is to say no to some things whatever we say no to makes us miserable it's as simple as that our suffering is our own activity nobody imposes suffering on us if we think that the loss of our faculties or the behavior of our partner or the state of our bank balance or the state of our health is the cause of unhappiness we are fooling ourselves none of these things can cause us unhappiness unless we give them permission to do so in which case they will do so the only thing that causes us unhappiness is saying no to our current experience nobody imposes unhappiness on us nobody and nothing can make us unhappy our suffering is our own moment-to-moment activity it is a choice we make moment by moment this does not here this does not mean that we lead a nice of the life of passive resignation it just means that our action in the world doesn't come from resistance it comes from joy it comes from enthusiasm this this joy this happiness is the nature of ourselves it is available to everybody 24/7 nothing can put happiness into us from the outside whenever we experience happiness we always experience it within ourselves if someone were to tell you now you have just won $10,000 immediately you would feel happy the happiness has not been put into you from the outside it was lying in the depths of your being simply waiting to be triggered it was not even triggered by the fact of winning the lottery it was triggered by your saying yes to that fact your welcoming of that fact why not simply welcome whatever you are currently experiencing the state of your health the behavior of your partner whatever it is right there the same happiness the same happiness that you would feel on winning the lottery would be unleashed in your experience imagine the freedom of leading a life where you know that your happiness is not dependent on anyone or anything anyone that who is in an intimate relationship should turn to their partner later today and say I love you but I do not need you I do not expect you to provide love for me and nothing you can do or cease doing can make me happy or miserable that is the kindest thing you can say to your partner do you relieve your partner of the impossible burden of producing happiness for you they will never satisfy that demand and sooner or later you will fill that down by them why not simply relieve your partner of that impossible demand right at the beginning of your relationship the quality of your relationship will improve tenfold as a result and those of you who are not in intimate relationships who seek intimate relationship or indeed any other object or activity or state make sure that you do not seek that relationship with the belief that it will make you happy if you into a relationship with a belief that it will make you happy you can be absolutely certain that it will one day make you miserable this is not a reason for not seeking an intimate relationship it is a reason for not seeking happiness in intimate relationship make sure your search for intimate relationship or whatever other object or circumstances you search for comes from your happiness and is not a means to it and then by all means desire whatever you want whatever you want is then it is the object the activity or the relationship through which you express your happiness you share your happiness you celebrate your happiness so this is not a path of renunciation it has nothing to do with curtailing our desires desire whatever you want but make sure your desire comes from happiness and does not go towards it no experience is unbearable no experience is overwhelming what is unbearable is our resistance to experience no experience has the capacity to make us miserable unless we resist it unless we say no to it can you taste the freedom that is available to you that is available to us if we simply stop resisting stop demanding that experience appear in a way that is consistent with our expectations if we demand that happiness if we demand that experience always appears in a way that is consistent with our expectations we are going to be disappointed most of the time can you imagine the absurdity of only being happy when the Sun shines of demanding that our happiness is dependent upon the weather what are you going to change the weather or your resistance to it to change our resistance to it takes a moment less than a moment the change another are we going to try to change another person's behavior given that that behavior is then is the product of decades lifetimes of conditioning or are we going to simply change our resistance to it once it is clear to us that our peace and our happiness is not dependent on objective circumstances at a great ocean of freedom opens up in us we feel that we touch all experience intimately but no experience touches us in the sense of harming us or hurting us we are totally open to all experience but cannot be harmed or hurt by any experience therefore there is no need to defend against anyone or anything give your attention now or just give your attention now to the the worst element of your current life whatever it is in your current life that you considered to be the the worst the most unpleasant the most unbearable part of it whether it's something to do with your health your relationship your finances your whatever it is allow that to come to your attention feel the impulse in you to avoid whatever this situation is ask yourself the question is this situation really unbearable ask yourself the question is the situation even unpleasant or is it my rejection of it that confers unpleasantness upon it see that it is our resistance to the situation not the situation itself that is unpleasant our resistance is something that we are doing it is not imposed on us by anyone or anything now just say to yourself face this situation that was once so unbearable or even unpleasant look at the situation whether it be a situation a person whatever it is and just say to it I totally accept you you cannot affect me in any way my being is not stained or harmed or hurt or changed or moved by you whatever it is feel the independence of your own being but your own being needs nothing from the person or the situation withdraw your projection your demand for happiness from the object or the circumstance or the person liberate them from the demand to make you happy take responsibility for your unhappiness this independence of our own being may feel neutral to begin with or it may just be felt as a background as peace but in soon this peace will grow into happiness the happiness that is innate in our being or the happiness that is our being when Joseph Campbell said follow your place he didn't mean seek your bliss in one object and then the next object and then the next object and then the next object he meant find this bliss this happiness within yourself and stay with it move from object to object from relationship to relationship in touch with this innate happiness or bliss if we do that this happiness begins to shed itself just spread itself confer itself upon everything that it touches it begins to communicate itself don't turn this into a practice don't struggle with your mind to say yes to something that your mind really wants to say no to that this openness to experience comes from behind the mind it is the nature of awareness the nature of yourself to be open to all the experience the fact that your current experience is already happening to you means that you awareness are already open to it it is too late to resist it this openness to experience is what we are not what we do this resistance to experience is what we do not what we are the Church of England should rewrite their marriage vows someone getting married should say to the other I love you but I do not need you you are free to do whatever you want you can stay with me for a day a year or 50 years I love you and I love your freedom I respect your freedom and I trust you to respect my freedom my happiness is not dependent on you that is the most loving thing we can say to a partner I love you but I do not need you have the courage to say that to your partner and for those of you not yet in a relationship or not no I don't mean not yet for those of you that I don't mean to imply the relationships are their ultimate destiny of all people and sorry for those of you who may at some stage embark on a relationship be sure that you say early on in your new relationship I love you but I do not need you and I do not expect you to produce love or happiness for me please don't misunderstand me I do not mean to imply that we should condone behavior in a partner a friend a colleague a neighbor a stranger that does not come from love or understanding it is legitimate to do so in other words it is legitimate to address such behavior all I am suggesting is that we do not allow our happiness to be a hostage to anyone or anything our innate happiness is prior to experience it is never the result of experience this is what William Blake meant when he said he who binds himself to a joy does the wicked life destroy one who allows their joy to be bound by a person a circumstance an object and activity does the wicked life destroy that this this freedom this independence this unconditional joy that is available to everyone at all times under all circumstances be very sensitive to any feeling of boredom irritation or restlessness these are much subtler forms of resistance to the current experience they may not be a big issue such as our failing health or a difficult relationship or the loss of a loved one but nevertheless our borden irritation restlessness is just a subtle rejection of the current experience if only things were slightly different I would be happy face whatever it is that seems to be intolerable or unbearable or even mildly unpleasant and see that the unpleasantness is not in the object or the experience is only in our resistance to it that resistance is our suffering that's all our suffering consists of if you find yourself in a situation where you have to say no to something make sure that the no comes from love and justice and intelligence that the know makes sure that no doesn't arise on behalf of a a person who feels hurt or disrespected or did diminished we often hear the phrase that the search for enlightenment whatever we are searching for is obviously not present now therefore if we are searching for enlightenment we are searching for an experience that will happen in the future and if we are exerting for an experience that will begin in the future that experience will by definition and the search for enlightenment is the search for misery we are searching for enlightenment when we are not searching for enlightenment we are searching for a state and even if we get that state it was sooner or later leave us and we will be more miserable than we were before we got it enlightenment so-called this that the misnomer enlightenment is the recognition the revelation the simple not the extraordinary mystical spiritual rep revelation the simple ordinary revelation of the nature of our self the nature its nature of peace and unconditioned joy a joy that depends on nothing it doesn't depend on her on an object a relationship a teaching a teacher a tradition it is independent unconditioned it is the nature of our self it cannot be found because it cannot be lost it can be concealed and revealed and it is concealed only by our resistance to experience the patch of blue sky is not an object that appears in the clouds from time to time the clouds appear against the background of blue sky from time to time happiness is not a feeling that appears in experience from time to time it is the background against which all experiences appear from time to time it is the nature of the background it is the nature of our being this is what this beautiful succinct phrase in the vedantic tradition means sat-chit-ananda the knowing of being is happiness itself the knowing of our own being as it is it's knowing of itself is happiness the space of this room does not resist anything and it does not hold on to anything and be like that space resist nothing seek nothing need nothing be nothing no nothing not just objects and relationships but ideas including non-dual ideas hold on to nothing you know that yourself be defined by anything when everything that we can let go of is let go of then that for which we long above all else shines by itself thank you
• Most people want better relationships, more money, better health, nicer homes, better jobs, or no job, families, and friendships.
• Happiness is the one thing everybody desires more than anything else.
• Happiness comes from within and not from external objects, activities, or relationships
• We all experience happiness differently at different stages of our life.
• We sometimes experience unhappiness from objects, activities, and relationships but it is dependent on us--not on them.
• We can find an ocean of freedom when we stop expecting external circumstances to bring us happiness.
• One should not seek happiness in relationships, but rather share and express our inherent happiness in them.
• Boredom, irritation, or restlessness are all related to resistance to the current experience.
• Searching for enlightenment rather than allowing oneself to be revealed to it is a recipe for misery.
• Happiness is not an occasional feeling, but rather the fundamental nature of our being.
• One should give their partner the freedom to stay for a day, year, or fifty years without feeling a need for them.
• We must say no from love, justice, and intelligence, not from feeling hurt or diminished.
• The nature of our being is peace and joy which is independent and unconditioned.
• Rejecting nothing and needing nothing allows innermost happiness to shine by itself.
"The Path to Lasting Happiness: Free Yourself from External Expectations"
A sun-lit forest trail stretching towards infinite contentment.