Broken or Open
Watch out for the danger of routine.
It is possible to be too happy.
The spiral of life takes us upwards.
|Why can Happiness
not be kept? Why is the loss of happiness a necessity?
It is so we can be opened to change. When life is going well and we are content, complacency can and usually does follow. We can become stuck in a satisfying routine, and only the loss of that state can awaken us to new possibilities.
The loss of happiness is the experience of falling. It is the journey into the wilderness where we wander lost. It is also the experience of being in the "belly of the whale." When we are swallowed up by something larger than ourselves, then the possibility of transformation awaits. Being broken may actually open us to the possibility of change. It is this state of brokenness that forces us to move away from the rim of the wheel. Our egocentricity is shattered, and we search for something greater to sustain us. As we go through this suffering, that is the allowing or experiencing of change, hopeful expectation comes. Happiness is regained only to have the process repeat itself.
Utilizing the image of a wheel it is obvious that the further we are from the center the more intense our experience will be. It is as if centrifugal force amplifies the experience. When we are far from the center, our happiness can become so intense (and unrealistic) that perspective will be lost and an addiction to happiness develops. A manic state is experienced or we become "Happiness Junkies." When experiencing falling we become panic stricken and the loss can deepen into depression. In the experience of suffering all meaning may be lost. Meaningless suffering is unbearable. A helpless, hopeless feeling of despair can prevail. As we rise up in intense, overly optimistic expectation, the cycle will start all over again as an unrealistic happiness is pursued.
Once we have journeyed around the wheel, we appear to have gone in a circle back to where we began. If, however, our point of view has been broadened or our level of consciousness raised, then progress has been made. We are in the same location but with a different level of understanding. T.S. Eliot expresses this well with his lines from The Four Quartets, "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all of our exploration will be to arrive where we started and to know the place for the first time." The journey around the wheel reveals the nature of life as the possibility of perpetual transformation and ever increasing consciousness.
A two dimensional image of the wheel can be productively combined with the three dimensional spiral. Each time we make a round on the wheel, there is the possibility that consciousness will be broadened, and we will rise up the spiral to a new and more mature level of living. The circumference of the wheel is reduced and we move closer to the center. However, without proper psychological and spiritual work we will only recycle at the same level. No change will occur. Worse still, we may descend on the spiral to lower levels of functioning as we move further and further from the center.