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Against Happiness

moth2010-07-04 17:59:55 +0000 #1
Namaste! Hope everyone‘s having a good summer wherever you happen to live. I’m in a little seaside village which turns into an even happier, bustling place as all the tourists arrive. I love this time of year – I feel happy. I’m still loving my yoga practice and my teacher and my class which I do in my happy little village, but lately, I seemed to have been turning away from pursuing the spiritual part of yoga. Ironically…I just finished reading a (non-yoga) book called “Against Happiness” by Eric Wilson. It resonated with me because it seemed to speak pretty directly to my ongoing struggle to understand my “other” side (darkness, negativity, or as he calls it, melancholia) and why I seem so reluctant to let this all go. In my previous posts, I’ve asked you all questions in an effort to get info so that I can try and “sort my way out” of this. I think I’m going to stop now. I don’t want to try or strive or change or mold myself into something more “perfect.” I won’t say anything like “I’m perfect just the way I am” because I don’t believe that. I don’t want to be MORE than I am. I’m me and I’m imperfect and I’m going to live with imperfect little me until I die. And imperfect little me will do the parts of yoga that I like and I’ll disregard the rest. My ego will probably remain attached and I’ll never know bliss and I won’t remember all the things I learn and read and I won’t have time to practice all the things I should. Honestly, I don’t know if this is good or bad or wrong or wise or egotistical (well, that’s probably true) but it feels right and true FOR ME. And it’s all tied up with my art which is the thing that makes me feel the most alive. So, if self-realization is part of what we’re supposed to strive for in yoga, then when we “get it,” we “keep it,” correct? Anyway, I just wanted to share a couple of quotes from the book.

“I think that regardless of how happy we pretend to be, we have all undergone this struggle, this tension between our own dark feelings and the grating call of the bright, shiny, happy world. We grow weary of the guilt we feel over our melancholy souls. We want to be left alone so that we can brood for as long as we want. We want this because we feel most alive, most vital when we suffer this rich confusion over the things of the universe. We sense that we are with the world, its swift interplay of horrible and holy.”

“How can we escape melancholia in an existence in which we are doomed to suffer physical and psychical pain, perturbing hours and miles that are arduous? If we are honest, we cannot. But isn’t it precisely this melancholia that gives life its edge, its friction, its exquisite frisson? Indeed, if not for the troublous gloom of our lives beyond the gates of Eden, we would never pine for a richer version of innocence than we had in childhood. We would never achieve experiences of this fertile innocence. We would never endeavor to create new ways of attaining this dynamically blissful, though transient, vision.”

“I get it: to be alive is to realize the universe’s grand polarity. Life grows out of death, and death from life; turbulence breeds sweet patterns, and order dissolves into vibrant chaos. The cosmos is mixed, blurred, messy, and contradictory. But this mishmash keeps jostling along, moving, unpredictable, contingent, mysterious, interesting. Suddenly my world doesn’t feel as if I were endlessly channel surfing, clicking the button all night even though I’ve seen everything that flashes across my screen. On the contrary, I don’t know what’s coming next. I’m on my toes. I’m edgy, incomplete, sad, but I’m trying to imagine poems more beautiful than the quiet cruising of devious sharks and symphonies more sonorous than those songs of the aloof birds of summer. I’m attempting to concoct a cosmos out of chaos.”

Pandara2010-07-04 18:13:37 +0000 #2

Where you are, is appropriate and it is never good, bad, wrong or right, it is always appropriate for the soul to be in the place where it is, it is our human experience and mind which will cloud an expereince as good, bad etc.

Then, how many "we's" are there in your we, I think it might be a bit presumptious to talk about "we", as I would rather think this is your own personal experience and path, or not?

So by the way it is winter in South Africa and we are in for another cold front with tempratures dropping, but fortunately our days are still very sunny and crisp and beautiful.

Good luck on your path.
moth2010-07-04 18:44:43 +0000 #3
Thanks Pandara. I always hope that somebody here tells me in so many words that what I'm doing (yoga-wise) is okay...then I feel okay. I've also been missing "you all" and just wanted an excuse to pop on and say hello. (Hello!)

So....winter in South Africa....

Being from New England, hearing the words "cold front" and "dropping temperatures" don't exactly thrill me, but a sunny, crisp and beautiful day in South Africa looks perfect in my mind. That thought makes me happy!

Stay warm and cozy over there...
Hubert2010-07-04 19:15:05 +0000 #4
Congratulations. You just lost the achievment oriented thinking.

You also discovered that you like life after all.

Melancholic temperament is an expression of the ego being not able to fully enter the physical body. Because of this, such a person percieves the physical body a prison, something restrictive, a pain.

There is a karmic reason for such a setup of a human being.

Important is, that this is a long term duty, and it is quite hard if not impossible to change one's temperament during just one life.

But this is exactly what you must do. You must rediscover the joy and freedom living in a physical body. Just follow your way, and what that is, you will know it best.
moth2010-07-04 18:31:46 +0000 #5
Hi Hubert! Yes, I think one of the reasons I came to whatever conclusions I came to above was because, I'm old(er) and I realized that practicing yoga, or starting it this late in the game, most likely will not wipe away my basic temperment. There's just not enough time left. But to clarify...I always liked life. I just liked the darker side better. I'm learning to treasure that side but to also embrace the lighter parts more often, I guess. Always seeking balance....

Hope your summer, or whatever season is in your part of the world, is going well....

(I'm not sure why I seem to need a global weather report but I do!)
Pandara2010-07-04 18:43:52 +0000 #6
Perhaps you are seeking balance as you said yourself, even in the seasons of the year, you are in summer, I am in winter, light, dark, etc.

Anyway, if I say tempratures dropping then it is below 20°C, today was 16°C, but still very sunny and actually amazingly beautiful, did a few sun salutations just now, felt so amazing feeling the rays penetrating deep into my soul and feeding places which I cannot describe as words is not sufficient to describe it. I'll just smile, both outward and inward.
JustinTime2010-07-04 19:27:00 +0000 #7

I'm old(er) and I realized that practicing yoga, or starting it this late in the game....

What about me then?! See my first post.



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