Most of us use the terms success and happiness without having a clue what they really are and where they come from. We talk about them as if they are a condition or commodity that we can purchase or trade. We think they come from material wealth, satisfying relationships, all things that produce pleasure, other people and of course things. But are success and happiness even real? Have any of us ever been successful and happy all the time? Is that even possible? Just what are these things we call success and happiness and do we have any control over them?
The majority of us have lost our way regarding the levels of conscious awareness, for example; how many of us are aware of the fact that we are able to experience life directly in the here and now, where and when we are breathing, seeing, hearing, smelling and feeling the phenomenon and sensations of the ever changing processes of life and the transformation of energy? Who has the time to get down with that in this complicated world? Mostly we rely on one of our strategies for dealing with this complicated world, we create a mental representation of reality with our ability to conceptualize using the abstract capabilities of our mind. It is easier to manipulate such a reality.
In this conceptual reality there is an 'I' that we have come to believe is the real us, and of course there is the world that we have come to believe is the real world. It is in this world that our 'I' reacts and responds in order to maintain the illusion of having real experiences, when in fact it is all just a mental exercise carried out in our mind and since we have convinced ourselves that it is real, it can and does impact our thinking and thus our emotions and behavior. But the important thing for us to realize here is that it is in this reality that concepts like success and happiness belong. They are simply concepts made up of collections of ideas that are themselves made up of thoughts originating in our mind.
The idea that success and happiness are only ideas that we apply to certain events and experiences in our lives is a little scary. Think about how much importance we attribute to these concepts, why? What is the purpose of these concepts in the first place? Why do we use them at all? I suspect that this is all about that conceptual reality that we created in order to deal with the ever more complex material reality. In fact, I sometimes wonder if this material reality that we are so obsesses with hasn't gotten way too out of control. It is way too big, way too complex, no one really knows what its purpose really is or how to manage it. It seems to be managing us instead.
I think that the manipulation of the conceptual reality is the key here. Without success there can be no failure, without happiness there can be no misery and the fear of failure and being miserable are powerful tools for the manipulation of human minds. And this manipulation is not confined to some people controlling others but more importantly the idea of us manipulating ourselves using these concepts. In how many areas of our lives do we dance to these ideas and the importance we attach to them? How much pain and frustration have we experiences as a direct result of these two ideas? And are they all negative? Is there anything positive that can be said about them? How about as sources of motivation?
Manipulating our perspective regarding certain concepts that we use in our lives helps us maintain a reasonable awareness of what we are doing and how we are doing it. It seems to be only when we lose our perspective on things that they can become liabilities. Success and happiness are really only words that are part of the conceptual reality that we believe is the real world. We use and misuse them for varying purposes with varying results. But there is a perspective on reality that provides very different results, and in fact doesn't accept success and happiness as anything at all beyond the fact that they are abstract word symbols that belong to a conceptual world that isn't actually real.
There is a level of consciousness called mindfulness that most people who meditate know well. This level of consciousness allows us to be able to see the activities of our own mind as they are taking place, without getting captured by them and involved in them. This level of consciousness is unattached and completely objective and can only exist in the here and now moment of direct experience. This of course means that the conceptual reality is seen for exactly what it is, a conceptual representation of reality created by the thoughts produced by our mind. In that reality we don't feel the movement of air on our skin, we don't feel the radiation from the star in our solar system, we don't experience sounds but instead label, categorize, define and describe the experience intellectually and thereby removing it from direct experience.
The problem with the conceptual reality is that as long as our attention is locked on it, we are unable to experience our lives where and when they are actually taking place. How did such a situation come about? Well, one idea is that it is one result of the wholesale marketing and manipulation of fear by every civilization mankind has tried to create and maintain. I have been writing about the benefits of going on the journey of self improvement for a long time and I write about the concept of success in order to help others improve their ability to use concepts in their lives. The fact that ideas like success have little meaning in the spiritual world doesn't mean they are to be dismissed. As long as we continue to live our lives in the conceptual framework of reality these concepts will be useful and have meaning. Just try to remember the difference.