Reflections on Holiday Cheer!
The Holidays are here. They are everywhere we turn. There is no escape now, so we might as well dig it and move on. So Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Birthday - whatever it is you're celebrating. I hope you have a grand ole time!
I am in transit today. On my way to the east coast. Exact destination is unknown. I'm flying under the radar like a stealth spy into an unknown city. No one knows I'm coming. It's fabulous. Where will I land??? hmmmmmm.
Eventually I am making my way to State College, PA to hang out with my Dad's side of the fam and have some eggnogg. Then to Boston for more caroling and maybe a gig or two with the old band. Then back to LA.
I read an amazing quote last night that made me think, and I just wanted to put it out there. I'm currently very turned on by the teachings of the late great guru, Paramhansa Yogananda. I've blogged about it before. He started the Self Realization Fellowship where I attend regularly to meditate and pray and stuff.
"If you have given up hope of ever being happy, cheer up."
It makes me laugh every time. It seems so simple. Are you sad? Well, cheer up! Wanna die? Cheer up! haha. It sounds like a father's quick fix or something - a man's solution. "You're feeling bad? Well, buck up and feel better!"(insert smack on the shoulder). But This quote has a much deeper spiritual meaning - especially in context with Yogananda's other thoughts on happiness. I read this in a book of compiled thoughts on the subject called "How to Be Happy All the Time." (Even the title sounds ridiculous to me. It's like who would even want to be happy all of the time? That's insane and impossible. right? .... right?)
He is not talking about a quick, superficial fix to the problem of unhappiness. It's not - you are desolate and sad? - put a smile on your face. ("Smile tho your heart is breaking" - Judy Garland knew that fix) Outward appearance of happiness is nowhere near the real thing. In fact, he points out that too much outward smiling and laughter can be phony and cause misery. Inward joy is where it is at. When PY says "Cheer up" - he means go within - tap into the current of ever-new joy that exists in this very moment for you! God is flowing like a current through life - and to sit and be still - to be silent for a moment and experience peace is where we find that infinite source of cheer. He says that true happiness is not based on our outer circumstances - most all of us search for our joy in the material world and find that it almost ALWAYS comes up short - or at least never lasts. But this is not real JOY - this is pleasure. Pleasure feels good, but it is an impermanent thrill. The sort of happiness you get from a spiritual source is everlasting and JOYFUL.
He says: "If you want to be sad, no one in the world can make you happy. But if you make up your mind to be happy, no one and nothing on earth can take that happiness from you...Make a steady effort to go within, and you will find your greatest happiness there. "
Going within requires discipline and self-control. So often we think of these actions as NOT FUN. I definitely think that when I see them. rules? blech! moderation? who needs it? More more more. Play time! You know? But all these worldly pleasures and obsessions end up bringing so much misery. At least I know they have for me at one point or another. Do we just accept that as a way of life? Or do we pay attention and decide to do something differently? Is it really that hard to accept that we find freedom in commitment - joy in discipline - happiness in self-control? It sounds so wrong.
Parmahansana says: "The way of escape lies not, as most people imagine, down moss-soft lanes of further indulgence, but up hard, rocky paths of self-control."
Whoa. That one is intense! I know what he means. I have so often felt completely caged by my worldly desires and pleasures. If you cannot feel happy until you do XXX (insert your drug of choice: work, sex, TV, booze, sleep, shopping, etc.) - are you really free and easy? No. You are XXX's little bitch. You have surrendered all your happiness and calmness and peace to a material experience or thing. That makes one feel powerless, hopeless, and weak. What a scary place to be! And most of us live there each and every day - if we're honest with ourselves. We all want to be joyous and free! I want to escape from this painful human drama - often! It is sort of amazing to find that the perfect escape - the one that lasts and truly satisfies - is contact with God. Is sitting quietly in love.
In order for prayer and meditation to really effect your daily happiness - I guess you have to do it everyday. Hmmmm. Again, this isn't brain surgery. That's why it makes me laugh! So i could wake up. Pray. Meditate. Hang out with God. And I might be happier that day? Interesting...
As we enter into this holiday season - I'm looking into a different kind of "Holiday Cheer". The kind that comes from within. It doesn't matter how many cookies and candy canes I eat, or how much hot chocolate and eggnog I imbibe, or how many funny Christmas movies I watch, or how many cool presents I get or don't get. This sort of Holiday cheer is superficial, temporary, and most often a disappointment. Lets be honest. Christmas was never as good as it was when we were 5. When we knew what real JOY was. When we were in awe and excitement most of the time. We are never going to be 5 again on Christmas morning. But when we were 5, my guess is we were in much more constant contact with 'what is' with 'God.' I knew what love was then. I knew what happiness was. And I knew that it came from a mysterious and wonderful source. Let's get back to the days of pure Holiday Cheer! The kind that comes from innocence and love. The kind that comes from observing God at work in the world - from sitting and listening to the beauty of this world - from smiling at a stranger - from loving one another - from being kind - and from sitting in some Christmas light in awe of the great gift that LIFE IS!
So it's Christmas time. CHEER UP!!!!!
"Winter Snow" - Chris Tomlin featuring Audrey Assad
Thank you for:
2. ever-new joy
3. wifi on planes
4. The Holidays