UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young
• It is not how much we have, but how much we enjoy, that makes happiness.
– Charles Spurgeon
My loose translation of the Garden of Eden story is that Adam and Eve were perfectly happy and all life was a paradise until they wanted more. It seems it is still true even in our modern world.
Think of very young children. They are so curious about the world and delight in simply exploring their surroundings. They are happy and content until they see something they are not allowed to have. Suddenly, they forget the fascinating world around them and focus only on what they cannot attain. They become cranky, miserable and inconsolable until someone shifts their attention away from the prohibited object.
In a reverse irony, we live in a culture that dangles in front of us much that is unattainable, thus distracting us from the perfection in our earthly experience. Of course, this is so much about ego. Ego cannot see it any other way. I am reminded of the Magic Eye pictures that merely look like random shapes and colours. Only when you stop trying to make any sense of it and just relax your eyes do images suddenly emerge out of the depths of the randomness.
For many, life is like that. There is so much busyness, ‘doing-ness,” worrying, striving and thinking that the real depth of life goes unseen. It is there, but only emerges in the quietness, the stillness, that place where we can feel our own soul. Sadly, for many it is only discovered in retrospect, perhaps when facing the end of life.
When faced with the end of life, suddenly all those things that were so important to ego, all those things it strived for, stressed about and focused on simply do not matter. They are all part of ego’s desires that are never really fulfilled because of the risk of losing what was attained or because there is now a new and improved ‘something’ it must have.
Everything falls away and often what one remembers are those soul moments of deep connected love for another or for the beauty of nature. But some do not experience that insight at all. I had a grandmother who always reiterated what a hard life she had. The hard parts ended before she was 40, but that is what she carried as the truth of her life for the next 44 years.
That is why it is so important to practice mindfulness and to quiet the mind; so much of the mind chatter is ego programs. It is a little like trying to listen to a beautiful symphony when someone behind you keeps talking. Our Earth experience can be a symphony, but ego takes away the joy.
Can we be happy even when life is hard? Hard times are a part of every life. If we see them as not belonging there, we will suffer. If we see them as part of a divine unfolding and an opportunity to learn, understand and gain wisdom, then yes we can. Some of the most riveting movies that have the greatest impact are those where there is tremendous struggle. They can be hard to watch but we are mesmerized for we are seeing the great depth of the human experience.
Happiness is not about having everything be wonderful. It is about being one with the life we all share, wherever that path takes us.
Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change hypnosis CDs and new Creating Healthy Relationships series, visit www.gwen.ca. See display ad this issue.