Happiness is not an achievement; love is not an achievement; holiness is not an achievement. They are each a grace—a grace called awareness, a grace called looking, observing, and understanding.

It is enough for you to be watchful and awake. If you would only switch on the light of awareness and observe yourself and everything around you throughout the day; if you would see yourself reflected in the mirror of awareness the way you see your face reflected in a looking glass—accurately, clearly, exactly as it is without the slightest distortion or addition; and if you observed this reflection without any judgment or condemnation—for what you judge you cannot understand—you would experience all sorts of marvelous changes in yourself.

So, the first step you need to take is to get in touch with negative feelings that you’re not even aware that you have. What negative feelings? Gloominess, for instance. You’re feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel that life is pointless, that it makes no sense. You’ve got hurt feelings, or you’re feeling stressed and tense. Get in touch with those feelings first.

The second step is to understand that the feeling is in you, not in reality.  To see this truth clearly, no reaction, no defect, no neurosis you observe is to be judged or condemned. Understand that while your negative feelings are in you, they are not you, as you mistakenly think. They come from your programming. Honest non-judgmental awareness leads to a better understanding that leads to love and forgiveness.

The third step is not to identify with the negative feeling. Don’t define your essential self in terms of that feeling. Don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say, “My experience is depression” or “Depression is there,” that’s fine. It’s similar to throwing black paint in the air; the sky remains uncontaminated. You never color the sky black. No matter what happens within you, the blue sky of the essential “I” remains uncontaminated. 

The fourth step is the recognition that although there is distress and reactivity right now, it will pass if you let it be, if you leave it alone. Everything passes. Your upsets and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum. They have nothing to do with the essential “I.” 

Awareness releases reality to change you, but you have to experience it. Step by step, let whatever happens happen. Real change will come when it is brought about—not by your ego, but by reality. Do it, and to your joy, you will discover that you are being transformed by a strangely loving attitude that arises within you toward yourself and moves out through you to every living creature. 

One last thing: I’ve said, Stop fixing yourself; effort will get you nowhere.  Soperhaps you are thinking, “Isn’t awareness itself an effort?” Not if you have tasted it even once. Once you have, you will understand that awareness is a delight; it is the delight of a little child moving out in wonder to discover the world. Even when awareness uncovers unpleasant things in you, it always brings liberation and joy. 

Click here to down the four steps.