I will respond to any questions, concerns, or comments that you send to me, Leaf, care of THE SUN, Box 732, Chapel Hill, NC 27514.
PURPOSE IN LIFE?
I once thought that the purpose of my life was to answer the question: “What is the purpose of my life?” I tried to fill myself looking for the answer. I have changed; I no longer move through life wondering “why?” I move. The meaning of life is usually contained in an awareness and appreciation of the process of life. The pleasure that I increasingly experience gives me the strength and trust to know I am moving through moments in the right way. When I attempt to be disciplined or giving or committed or any different desirable behavior, I often fail unless I feel pleasure (or at least better) from the doing of those changes. If I behave because I think that I should be this way or that, I am defeated from the start. I am coming to realize that the ideal me and the “actual right here at this very moment” me are different people. I have lost interest in pushing myself to conform with the fantasy. I have begun to understand that as we understand (are aware of), appreciate, and love ourselves as we are now, we fulfill the purpose of our lives.
Love is the vehicle through which real change is possible. Love is the highest state of health: when we love, we are in perfect harmony. Change that comes through love is the process of us moving from healthy to healthier. Change germinates spontaneously from love, as all beings have a natural tendency to grow healthier. Like the morning sun shining through the haze, we become stronger, more brilliant moment by moment.
Can change occur without love? Certainly deteriorating destructive change is possible, but as the universe becomes (so it seems to me) more harmonious, perhaps negative motion and regression are only an illusion from a limited perspective. I believe that we are all becoming healthier, more in harmony . . . albeit the apparent contradictions to this are multitudinous. My belief has been developed through intellectual understanding, and, yet, this trust is beyond the grasp of my intellect. Although we are all growing, change made without love does not have the strength or permanency that loving change does. Change that is the result of “shoulds,” expectations, ideals is the change that we probably are not willing or able to make. This is analogous to bending a brittle piece of metal; the metal either snaps back or is broken. Change that feels good will last, similar to shaping a soft clay into an agreeable form.
FEELING AND ACTING BAD
Sometimes our undesirable behavior (laziness, indecisiveness, drug use, over eating, lusting, whatever we define as undesirable) is a powerful protective device that allows us to keep out of touch with very vulnerable and painful aspects of ourselves. As we become compassionate with our “negative” side, we gain the strength to experience and release the blocks that have caused our unhealthy disharmonious behavior. The behavior is usually a symptom of the bad feelings, although we sometimes incorporate unhealthy behaviors from our environment, and the behavior becomes the cause of feeling bad. Habits of poor food eating, little physical exercise, cigarette smoking, dishonesty etcetera may only be ill-learned behaviors and not symptoms of something else (except the illness that is prolific throughout our society). But disharmonious behaviors have the power to cause us to feel bad. Our physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health are almost inseparable. When part of us is hurt, abused, damaged, our whole being suffers.
As we make a commitment to be aware, and to love, and appreciate ourselves, we accelerate our evolutionary process. With awareness, we can see our illness and its symptoms. Seeing how we are sick is a major step in getting well. I define my pathology as any behavior or attitude that causes any part of my being to feel bad. Frequently these behaviors have short-term benefits. Getting drunk, sleeping twelve hours a day or with three partners a week, or eating quantities of sugar products can be “fun” as we temporarily feel better (symptomatic relief). Unfortunately, the disadvantage in consuming excessively or poisonously (and anything consumed excessively is a poison), is that we still must deal with the cause of our illness, and we have become sicker from our poisons. The “high” that comes from our unhealthy habits is always followed by the low that comes as we process the toxins out (these toxins can be emotional and spiritual as well as physical).
I firmly believe that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with self destructive behaviors. The belief that something is wrong with us, with our behavior, feelings, or attitudes is just more poison in the pot. Several of my abusive behaviors no longer exist, not because I forced myself to change, but, because, after years of struggle, I began observing what happened to me as I did these things. I might dance like mad and tell the craziest jokes as I spend an evening “getting loaded.” I inevitably feel weak and hazy the next day. Now I know that I can still dance like mad and tell crazy jokes without these exhausting props.
THE RIGHT TIME
Once when I was “trying to quit” smoking pot, I made a list of the behaviors, habits, crutches that I had replaced with healthier, more life-affirming ones. Most had not dropped away when “I wanted them too”; most had dropped away by some mysterious process known as the right time. This would seem to come after months or years of self-torture when I could not or would not change. I would finally begin to accept that “this is who I am,” and I might as well stop this masochist punishment and like myself. After this attitude had been accepted into my heart (when I had become healthier because I had accepted my “limitation”), the unhealthy behavior would drop away. Sometimes I have dropped behaviors as soon as I became aware of their effects; I suspect that they no longer served any useful purpose, and it was their right time.
I have been amazed to discover that I truly feel better and happier without these toxins. Drugs, excesses, various thrills are not nearly as much fun as opening my heart to the joy of sharing and feeling love. I do slip into these destructive patterns occasionally. I usually do this to get external “help” in avoiding some pain or loneliness or discomfort, or else for a familiar “treat” — an attachment to something that once gave me pleasure. Sometimes I’m hard on myself; I indulge in the treat and reprimand myself for doing it at the same time. This is a way I keep myself stuck.
During the long and continuous process of releasing and dropping toxic behaviors, feelings, and attitudes, a great deal of love and energy is freed. We become more creative, appreciative, alive than ever before. Although I have sometimes experienced voids when “something” was gone and I had nothing to take its place, I have discovered that there are a tremendous amount of healthy resources to replace all our dis-eased parts. The universe is blessed with great beauty and wonder as are all of us. As we focus our awareness upon the joyous that so abundantly exists, our pleasure in life increases. In whatever ways we live our day to day lives, we are able to do so much better when we act with love and pleasure.
As great saints have said, ENJOY LIFE.