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  • Writer's pictureBill

Don't Worry, Be Happy

Updated: Aug 8, 2019

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I’ve always been into the enlightenment thing. From the first time I heard of it, it was the goal for me. As a kid, my dream was to wander into the woods and live happy-ever-after as an enlightened sage. Eventually, I learned happiness is an inside job, so the externals don’t matter. If you have the essentials, you can take them on the subway. There’s something wonderful happening beyond the intuition of the worry-prone mind. Sit down and shut up for a second, and there it is. Philosophy says this must be argued metaphysically. Religion says it must be based on faith. Teaching centers say it must be practiced formally. I’m not so sure. I think the sit down and shut up part is actually the whole thing. A buddy of mine - who’s in his ’70s - did everything. He was a Zen Buddhist and a Quaker and a Course in Miracles teacher. I think he was even with the Rajneeshis for awhile. You probably think he’s a flake, but this guy did everything in the most genuine way you can imagine. A few years ago, he said something I’ll never forget: The essence of every teaching is “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” I sit down and shut up, then I go and mess it up by worrying about something trivial or out of my control. At the same time, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” beckons. Speaking of which, my husband said something really funny today. He’s close to a birthday and he was doing some self-reflection and somebody asked him what he thinks his best quality is. He said: “I think my best quality is not being completely insane.” I thought, yeah, that’s a good one. Of course, he didn’t mean insane in a mental illness way. He meant insane in that indefinable way that robs your life of wonder while you stand around siding with the robber. Thoreau knew this slick but fundamental insanity when he said, “I didn’t want to come to die and realize that I had not lived.” So that’s my dream - The realistic wonder of the spaciousness of here and now. You’d be amazed how easily this goalless goal gets twisted into wanting to be a “spiritual person.” When I worry or get annoyed, I then react like I’ve abandoned my special identity as “spiritual.” If you’re a Big Lebowski fan, I’m referring to the “Dude, you’re being very un-Dude,” moments. When we recognize our inherent sanity, as my husband did, we realize the realistic wonder is happening even now. It just needs to be recognized with gratitude and much bowing. I mean that!

J Matthews

Radically Condensed Instructions for Being Just as You Are

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