Happy in Hell – Gary Larson’s Farside.
Today’s post is a little different from your usual blog. This is a response that I wrote to a Facebook friend who was hoping for some sort of validation and reassurance for his journey ahead. In all honesty, I don’t know if I have really helped him as much as he may have wanted, but I found that in responding to him, I had finally put in words some of the aspects of my philosophy and my recent journey that I had previously not disclosed to others.
I thought I would put this up as a blog post for two reasons. Firstly to highlight some of my current thinking, but also as an opportunity for some of my friends, supporters and acquaintances to have a deeper understanding of where my journey has taken me over the last two years, so they might have some greater insight and understanding into precisely what it is that I have experienced and achieved over that time.
Frankly, looking in from the outside it probably doesn’t look like I’ve achieved a hell of a lot, but from the point of what matters, my progress has been phenomenal.
My friend initially wrote:
I am so pathetic,looking at Facebook hoping for some message of hope that will give me reason to feel like what’s ahead of me is not going to be as hard as it looks like it will. Should I stop looking or just keep getting stronger and more determined each time I am disappointed. The later I guess.
Is this a familiar feeling amount you my Facebook friends ? — feeling tired.
Hiya, I fully understand what it is like to stand solitary and alone in a world that not only doesn’t seem to care, but seems determined to isolate you and tear you down.
I have found that the strength to keep on going comes from my recognition of who I am and the path that I am on. Although, in truth, talking about having the “strength”, to do what I do is a misnomer. I do what I do, because it is a reflection of who I am and the path on which I travel often seems like the path of least resistance, because to travel another path would mean becoming an entirely different person.
It may be that right now you are not entirely certain of who you are and what you represent. Like everyone, you undoubtedly have an idealised view of who you would like to be, but you have not yet fully stepped into that person. Externally, you put forward a particular image, but you know that that image isn’t reflective of the turmoil within.
This is something that you will always experience, as it is an inevitable consequence of the monkey suit that we all wear. But the power to choose who you are and who you wish to become is entirely within your own self.
For example, I decided years ago that I was going to be “one of the happy ones”. Whether I am around for an eternity, or only a few years more, I don’t see the point in not enjoying it, so I committed myself to being happy and to bringing joy into the world. I decided that I was not going to pretend to be anybody that I wasn’t and that I was going to cast off the shackles of fear that held me bound.
This was a significant contributor to my decision to start campaigning for drug law reform and to come out into the open as a mystic and a person who uses Transcendent Compounds for spiritual purposes. I faced my fears in so many ways. I took to the streets, I did a 28 Hunger Strike, I took LSD on the steps of parliament and I invited the wrath of the authorities onto my head. I stood proud in who I had chosen to be.
And then the wheels fell off.
I looked around and despite all of my efforts, felt like I had no real supporters and no real success. Yes, there were a few dozen people who agreed with me and liked what I was doing, but there was no groundswell to carry me forward. Even worse, rather than react to what I was doing, the politicians and media simply ignored me. It was easier for them to deny me the oxygen that recognition, or criminal charges and a Supreme Court case would have given me. They knew that if they ignored me, I would run out of steam and my campaign would most likely flounder on their indifference. Its politics 101 for handling difficult people and difficult issues.
Other aspects of my situation also conspired to undermine my sense of self. Ongoing rejection by friends and family, lack of a girlfriend, chronic unemployment and social isolation bought on by living in a small country town as well as the insomnia that has plagued me since childhood all sunk their dark roots into my mind.
Over the course of twelve months from the beginning of 2012, my thinking gradually shifted, and while I still thought of myself as “one of the Happy Ones”, I was anything but. By the beginning of 2013, I was getting into suicidal territory. I could (and sadly often did) recite everything that was bad in my life, but nothing that was good.
It turned out that I was fortunate indeed. I have a very good friend and supporter, who runs Ayahuasca circles. From March to June 2013, over the course of three powerful journeys, I was first shown that my actual path was precisely 180 degrees to my imagined path. Where I had conceptualised myself as one of the Happy Ones, I had in fact become one of the Miserable Ones. Where initially I had developed mindfulness techniques that had bought me into joy, these were now perverted towards reminding me of the pain.
After this startling revelation, I immediately rededicated these mindfulness techniques once more towards generating happiness and joy. Almost overnight, I transformed my direction back to the one I had been on in the years before I lost the path.
Six weeks after the first Ayahuasca experience since loosing my way, my second Ayahuasca journey was one of pure and total bliss. As you will know, Ayahuasca isn’t like MDMA (AKA ecstasy) and doesn’t of itself produce ecstatic experiences. Rather it reflects the journey of the individual and the content of their mind. I spent the six hour journey connected directly to the Divine Aspect of Joy. Even the purging (aka vomiting) was joyous! The very clear message I received was that this is what I could achieve if I put the work into it.
Six weeks later (and after still more hard work: changing direction does not entail immediate success), in the final journey of that series I once more experienced an incredibly blissful journey, but not as powerfully as the second time. I was cool with this, however, because the message I received was that this time the joy that I was experiencing was my own, generated from within, rather than being imposed from without.
Mother Ayahuasca also let me know that we would part ways for a while, because I needed to learn to stand on my own two feet and that we’d do some further work when I was ready for her next lessons. These have yet to begin.
Back in the monkey suit, things are still difficult and if looked at objectively, they are getting worse. I’m still rejected by my family, have no girlfriend, am unemployed and live in an isolated country town (well village…). I still feel like I have no real traction in my campaign for drug law reform and little support outside of a few faithful friends and idealists. (who regularly tell me to stop imagining things and being so bloody hard on myself…) Even worse, my car recently died and I am even more isolated than before. It seems that nobody ever visits.
But I have managed to keep hold of that joy and keep hold of who I am. Things are difficult, but I have realised that things are only difficult because it is when things are difficult that the one’s true nature emerges. Almost anyone can be happy when things are going well. It takes true commitment and purpose to be able to retain that sense of happiness and joy, even as the world seems to be doing its worst to you.
Because the reality is that the world is not doing its worst to me. I am healthy, have a roof over my head, have enough food in my tummy and enough money to buy luxuries like chocolate and lollies. I’m even a few kilos overweight… Even on the unemployment benefit, I am still in the top 15% of income earners on this planet and one of the wealthiest humans to have ever lived.
I have an adorable Golden Retriever who routinely channels Joy and Happiness in a way that I can only admire (she is so cute!). I still have real friends, who care deeply about me and worry for me. I know that those friends and family who have rejected me have done so not because they don’t love me, or care about me, but simply because they don’t understand. Their rejection is an aspect of their own fears and uncertainty and it is my responsibility to help them deal with those issues, rather than take their rejection to heart.
I am fortunate enough to live in a vibrant, peaceful democracy, where individual rights are respected. While I have been ignored by the government and police, I haven’t been arrested, or tortured, as would have happened if I lived in almost any other country that you could choose.
To sum it all up in a few words: I’m incredibly lucky.
I have so much to be grateful for that it shames me to think of how I so easily lost sight of reality.
Today, the difference is that I have truly stepped into being the person that I had wanted to become. Unlike 99% of people on this planet, I know who I am and what my purpose is: I am a being of Light and my purpose is Joy.
When darkness beckons it is my inner Light that keeps it at bay and my inner light exists because every day I choose to manifest it.
This doesn’t mean that I am perfect. I’m not some amazing spiritual guru, or Master. I haven’t achieved Enlightenment and I still am overwhelmed by my own ignorance.
I am an aspect of the Divine, but I am not a Divine Aspect. Like everyone else on this planet, I am trapped in the monkey suit. I can still be as selfish, mean spirited and greedy as the next person. I still whine, bitch, moan, complain and seek to blame others for my faults. My ego, pride and desire for recognition still battle for ascendancy. Each day, I still grapple with the fear and isolation and rejection. My sense of personal injustice can burn like a knife.
So, each day (or each hour, or every second if needs be) I recommit myself to the path that I have chosen. I remind myself that I have decided to be one of the Happy Ones and I consciously reconnect myself to the Divine Aspect of Joy. Some days it is easy, while on others it seems overwhelming, but irrespective of how bad things are, I know where the path I am on is taking me and I know where my ultimate destination lies.
The thing is that one doesn’t need a life shattering Ayahuasca journey to get where I am today. In reality, I had already done all the hard work in the years prior to my losing my way.
The hardest part of the journey was my initial realisation, the better part of a decade ago, that I could choose a path and then figuring out how to maintain my course on that path. When I wandered off the path, I fell into a chasm, but once I recognised the chasm for what it was, it was my previous training in mindful happiness that allowed me to climb out and resume my journey, albeit with greater wisdom and respect for the dangers ahead.
As an aspiring aspect of Divine Joy, I certainly hope that the path that you choose mirrors mine and that you similarly commit yourself to happiness and joy. But there are an infinite number of paths in the Light and seriousness is just as valid, if not as much fun. The key is to identify what your path is and to continually commit yourself to it. By doing so, your actions and decisions will be reflective of this path, and you’ll know within yourself when you have not been true to yourself.
If on reflection, you realise that you have committed yourself to a darker aspect of the Divine (such as misery, pride, or ego), it is always in your power to change it, simply by choosing and committing to a new, brighter path. Yes, you will have to learn new habits and new modes of thinking and behaving and this may take lifetimes, but once you’ve decided to navigate away from the rocks, your eventual safety is assured.
If, like me you find yourself far from your intended path, the realisation may sneak up gradually, or hit you like a lightning bolt. In all honesty, I knew that I had strayed months before (Joy does not equal suicidal!) but my ego and pride prevented me from admitting it to myself. Being “One of the Happy Ones” had ceased to be a journey and become an identity, or brand; and I was a fanboi.
The thing to remember is that you will fall of the path. We all do and doing so is a necessary part of the journey. For it is only through making mistakes that we learn and grow. It is only through recognising and admitting our error, while taking ownership of our behaviour, that we can truly recommit ourselves to our path. Success is built on repeated failure and each time we fall by the wayside, we not only remind ourselves of the importance of the journey, but also practice the skills we will need for the more difficult times ahead.
And there will be more difficult times ahead. The path to Heaven goes directly through Hell, because it is only by maintaining a commitment to Joy and Happiness under the most extreme circumstances of deprivation that we can truly demonstrate our commitment to the path that we have chosen. I am reminded of a Far Side cartoon, where two demons are looking at a man in hell whistling as he goes about his work and saying, “You know, were just not reaching that guy”. He’s in Hell, but he carries Heaven within him.
Similarly, the path to Hell goes directly through Heaven, because it is only the most determinedly dark person who is impenetrable to the incredible, wonderful power of Divine Joy. I know many people who are living lives of privilege and comfort, with support that I could only dream of, yet who are consumed by misery and self loathing. They are bathed in light, but carry a darkness to which it is impervious.
So don’t expect justice and don’t expect the universe to be fair. Don’t expect that everything will turn out OK over the course of this lifetime. It is your commitment over Eternity that determines who you are, not the vagaries of a particular life story, or universe in which you happen to briefly reside.
Contrary to what many people will tell you, there are no shortcuts and the only “Secret” is hard work and dedication. Don’t fall for the nonsense that all you need is a bit of wishful thinking and that the universe is going to respond to your whim, or give you what you want because you ask.
It doesn’t and it won’t: As any parent will tell you, it is only through not giving you what you want that your true character is forged. If you got whatever you wanted and were never challenged, you’d never have an opportunity to grow and you’d stagnate into a spoilt husk with no purpose, no meaning and no identity beyond narcissistic want.
It’s when you maintain your inner light, even when you don’t receive justice and you aren’t treated fairly that you demonstrate that you are truly committed to your path.
With your inner Light shining bright, the injustices and tribulations of this world (or even “hell”) will shrink into nothingness (or at least become manageable), because irrespective of how dark the universe seems to be, it will always be lit by the light that you carry within you. You’d be amazed at how bright even a candle can be on the darkest of nights!
Looking at your opening post, I honestly don’t know if this is the sort of thing that you were hoping that Facebook would provide, but I hope this gives you some hope and potentially helps you find your way forward in a difficult world.
Remember: Darkness always shrinks before the Light.
And I could always be completely full of shit! 😉
Herder of Cats.