from Awareness by Anthony De Mello . . .

Happy new year from the De Mello Spirituality Center. Here are a few items that belong on your new year’s list of resolution for 2020.

To live an aware life.

We live mechanical lives, generated from automatic thoughts and emotions in reaction to whatever the outside world is doing or not doing at the moment.  A mechanical life is perpetually focused on what is happening out there and reacting to it, trying to control conditions, giving little or no attention to understanding what is happening on the inside.  We always want someone else or some situation to change so that we will feel good. This means our capacity for happiness is constantly at the mercy of people and events. Has it struck you that even if your wife changes or your job changes, what does that do to you? You’re just as vulnerable as before; you’re just as foolish as before; you’re just as asleep as before. Until we see this we will keep functioning from the premise that I will feel good when the world is right.” Wrong premise! The world will be right when I feel good.

You can come home to yourself and the good news is that you will not have to bring it about. Change happens through a simple practice of awareness As the life of awareness settles on your negative, self-defeating tendencies, whatever is fearful will disappear. Whatever is good and true in your beautiful essential nature will be fostered, but you will have to practice awareness to experience that for yourself. Therefore, the first thing you need to do is get in touch with negative feelings that you have not been aware of.  which begins with observing yourself. How?

Watch everything inside of you and outside. Especially, get in touch with the negative thoughts and feelings controlling you that you are probably repressing and therefore unaware of.  What negative feelings? Gloominess, for instance. You’re feeling gloomy and moody. You feel self-hatred or guilt. You feel nervous and tense, stressed and overwhelmed. You feel disappointment or discouragement or that life is pointless and  makes no sense.  You have got hurt feelings or anger and blame. Get in touch with those feelings first.   Notice when you get angry with somebody or overwhelmed by some situation, are you aware that you were angry or overwhelmed.  Or were you simply identifying with your anger which made you feel guilty, or identifying with your overwhelm which made you feel inadequate?  Drop that, and simply be aware of the what you are thinking and feeling.

To own my negativity so I can shift it

The next step is to own the negativity by recognizing that the negativity is in you, not in reality. Stop trying to change reality. That’s crazy! Stop trying to change the other person. Stop trying to change external circumstances.  Accept the situation exactly as it is. We spend a great deal of time and energy trying to change our spouse, our boss, our friends, our enemies, our life situation. We don’t have to change anything. If you’re upset because rain washes out a picnic, who is feeling negative? The rain or you? The rain is just the rain but your negative reaction is in you.

Wake up to this: No person on earth has the power to make you unhappy. There is no event on earth that has the power to disturb you or hurt you. No event, condition, situation, or person.

To stop identifying myself with negative emotional states.

The reason we suffer from our depression and anxiety is because we identify ourselves with our mental states. We say, “I’m depressed.” But that’s mistaken. We are not our depression or anxiety—though we are not aware of it—we are simply experiencing a depression or anxiety or even our delight at the moment. Depression or delight may be what we experience at times, but just wait, it will change; it won’t last: it never does. Emotions are always changing. Negative emotions are like clouds that come and go.  Some clouds are black, some white, some large, others small. We are the blue sky behind it all, observing what comes and goes. This blue-sky state of being is your essential self. 

So, don’t say, “I am depressed.” If you want to say, depression is there, that’s fine; if you want to say anxiety is there, that’s fine. But not: I am fearful. When you do, you are defining yourself in terms of the feeling. That’s your illusion; that’s your mistake. There is a depression there right now, there are hurt feelings there right now, but let it be, leave it alone. It will pass. Everything passes, everything. Your depressions and your thrills have nothing to do with happiness. Those are the swings of the pendulum.

To stop fixing myself, understand yourself instead.

Your essential self is a passive, detached observer, looking down on this experience called life, without interfering, without fixing anything. It recognizes that all is well and nothing needs to be fixed; the suffering we experience just needs to be understood. If we understood the pain and negativity it would change all by itself. So, reflect on your experience, opening to it in an attempt to understand it better, asking yourself, where did this reaction come from? What brought it on?

To embrace life exactly as it is.

 There is no other way than awareness for freeing yourselves and it is a specific kind of awareness that embraces life exactly as it is with no judgment, no commentary, no attitude. You simply observe, you reflect, you watch without the desire to change what is.  It is observing oneself with curiosity, as a scientist observes the behavior of ants possessing no further end than to study ants in order to learn and understand as much as possible about them. A scientist has no other aim.  Apply the same orientation to your own negative pattern of thinking, reacting and behaving.   

To be happy unconditionally.

We’ve been brainwashed to believe that happiness is a smooth complexion, a fancy suit of clothes, a sports car, a holiday resort, a brand of alcohol. The list is long. Real happiness, unconditional happiness is none of these things, but we have subtle ways of making our happiness depend on other things, both within us and outside us. We say, “I cannot or will not to be happy until my neurosis goes . . . until I make more money . . . unless I get the promotion.” I have good news for you: You can be happy right now, with the neurosis.

You want even better news? There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing happiness at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have. Otherwise you would be experiencing bliss.

Make 2020 a year of happiness; it’s yours for the taking.