And so I was. But although that was a huge relief and it was palpable, I experienced a lightness of spirit, within a few days I found that I was once again in my frown mode. Except when I consciously conjured up my smiling toddler or was distracted by someone or something.
Why, I asked myself, is this habit-energy still controlling both my physical body and my mental space? Duh! Because it’s a habit-energy. And the only way to change a habit-energy is to create a new habit-energy. All the things I’ve been doing, like opening up my heart to embrace all aspects of my being and experience, are new habit-energies, but they are steps in a process, not the end result. I have not created a new end-result habit-energy
The new habit I must create is to observe myself and the world around me at one and the same time through the neutrality of my senses, which I routinely now do, and through the positive energy in my heart, which I do not routinely do. Instead, that gray cloud from my mind is still hovering over me; there is no positive energy there, unless I consciously call it up.
But how do I routinely feel the joy in my heart, the positive energy? The other day I experienced my partner truly in a joyful state. It was beautiful, innocent; it was like experiencing my smiling toddler. The next morning when I meditated, I realized that I had NEVER as an adolescent or adult experienced such joy.
What was the barrier that was still keeping me from my birthright? And then it came to me. In addition to all the things that had been done to me, that I experienced, and which I have embraced with my heart, I had done many things to myself, I had placed myself in the most degrading of situations for decades, I had hurt loved ones. This was my addict in action.
Yes, none of this was my free will; it was all a function of my ego-mind, but nevertheless I did those things. I do not place blame or feel guilt, but they were my actions. And because of those actions I had a self-loathing for myself that I had never realized; I did not feel that I am worthy of receiving love and experiencing a lightness of spirit. That is I believe the true cause of my eternal frown.
Interestingly, although I went to a 12-step program for many years in the 90s and am a recovering sex addict, the 12 steps do not embrace our addictive actions. Instead, the language is of making a “moral inventory” and asking God to remove these “defects of character.” While that may have been effective in freeing me from my addictive behavior, it did not heal me.
And when I did the heart’s embrace four years ago, I didn’t enumerate my addictive behavior and embrace it because it was no longer an “issue.” I didn’t think of it. But that is what I must do now through the application of Buddhist principles and as described in my post, “12 Steps on the Buddhist Path” and many others,
And so the next day, I meditated and opened up my heart and embraced those actions, forgave myself. I am a good person, I have always been a good person, these actions to the contrary notwithstanding. I do not now have and never had any defect of character.
Only time will tell whether this latest awareness leads to freedom and joy. There is no question that it will take me further on the path. But I was aware already that joy will not come automatically.
The following morning when I when I went out for my morning walk in the frigid cold and was surrounded by the beauty of nature, I was aware that the reason why I only experience joy when I conjure up my smiling toddler is that the joy that I know is my true nature, that is my heart, is still so buried under the detritus of my life, it is so foreign to me, than I connect reach it. The only way I have found of experiencing it is through my smiling toddler.
I am a man at peace who experiences happiness, but rarely joy. So as not to confuse let me explain that joy and happiness are not the same thing. Both arise internally, but joy concerns your relation with yourself; happiness relates to your reaction to external things. Joy I felt will come one day from within, but it cannot be pushed.
But the next day while meditating I remembered what I had previously realized and written in my post, “Joy - At Last Real Understanding.” And the power of which I had not acted on. That I can fulfill my purpose in life of offering myself joy by taking pleasure in each passing moment. If I take pleasure in each moment, I feel myself smile, and I feel joy inside me. I don’t have to wait till the joy in my heart rises to the surface; I can actively provide myself joy in this simple way and thus truly change the ambiance of my life. Turn it into joy. This is the new end-result habit-energy I need to create.
And this is what I have been doing the past few days, that has been my intent, and the experience has been transformative. And I realized that perhaps this is how the joy that is within my heart expresses itself, by enabling me to take pleasure in each passing moment. Truly, what more to joy can there be? Such activity surely comes from my heart.
It is sad and a statement about the power of ego-mind that I had these tools at hand at least five months ago when I wrote that post but did not turn my realization into action, into implementation. But happily, better late than never. I am experiencing something I have never experienced for more than a few moments.