Somewhere along the way, The Seeker’s Dungeon turned into a yes-the-world-is-fucked-up-but-there’s-a-light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel blog. When I started out, I mostly wrote boy-it-sure-is-dark-down-here articles. As the blog grew, I developed a need to be ok with the darkness. I needed a reason for the darkness. It couldn’t just be that it’s damn dark in dungeons. No it had to be – whether through death, or enlightenment – we’re serving our time, and at some point we’ll be released into the light, and the purpose would make itself known.
But, ‘at-some-points’ are like ‘tomorrows.’ Eventually we have to be ok with today. We have to be ok with a journey, just being a journey. We all want to get somewhere. We can fight, and need to fight the injustices in every direction, but for the sake of our heart, we have to accept that darkness is part and parcel of the human experience.
Sometimes, I feel like I have anger inside of me that is so deep that it doesn’t jive with my own life experiences. I can go through periods where I can’t look or talk to anyone without feeling disappointed. My ego being pricked by the slightest disrespect and sending me into a mental tailspin would make me think that I should have at one time in my life been so respected that I can no longer deal with being treated as a mere mortal. But I was never a man of such stature or acclaim that my every word was revered. This being the case, my inner and outer worlds do not seem to exist in the same universe. In my blog bio I state that “I’m a King without a kingdom” because that is the only way that I can come to terms with my oversized ego.
Reincarnation is part of my belief system and answers any questions that I want to throw its way, but when I want answers about the world, I always try to judge the world at face value. My anger sometimes feels so engrained in me as if it were part of my very DNA. I start to wonder about things such as transgenerational trauma. This is a particular kind of trauma that is “transferred from the first generation of trauma survivors to the second and further generations of offspring of the survivors via complex post-traumatic stress disorder mechanisms.” (Wikipedia) This is a particular kind of PTSD that can be found in varying groups such as the descendants of Holocaust survivors and of slaves.
It is easy for people to say get over it; slavery was so many generations ago. But the trauma continues to find its life renewed in Jim Crow, the civil rights movement of the 60’s, and the police shootings of today that are broadcast all over social media. Epigenetics is “the study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.” (Oxford Dictionary) Traumatic experiences literally change our DNA, not the code, but the way that it is expressed – the way that we react to our surroundings – and it gets passed down for generations.
This whole dark introduction started from my contemplation on what it means to ‘choose’ happiness. We say it very casually as if it were an easy thing to do. But it is a deep spiritual practice that comes easily to some people existing in the most dire of circumstances, while others, whose problems may seem largely self-inflicted, are never able to escape the idea that the world is against them.
The happiest that I ever am, is on Amma’s Indian tours. At this time, we get on buses with seats too small for our shoulders, and travel across India, working night and day to serve the thousands of people who show up to see Amma and get her darshan. The accommodations and conditions are usually squalid by western standards. But I love it. I’m never on my phone checking the news or social media. I don’t have time to. There’s just too much going on in the moment.
We are survival creatures. Our DNA was furnished in the fires of the wilderness, and molded through tribal warfare. We were not beings that were made to sit for hours a day in front of computer screens. Maybe that is why we fight so much with each other. In the heat of battle, we don’t have time to be sad. When we are really fighting for survival we also don’t have time for philosophy. Still, fighting has a way of hiding the pain away. Anger will burn everything else to the ground. It is easier to overcome a lost love when we can be angry at them. I’m not singing the praises of anger I’m just theorizing on the “why’s” and “hows” and “for what good reasons…”
The way that our bodies work are truly incredible. If we have a problem with a virus our bodies will produce the antibodies we need. But when there is a problem with our organ functions, they might start to poison us rather than protect us. It is a cause and effect world. It is also a virus and antibody planet. We have everything we need to survive but when we don’t function correctly it can be the end of us. The same intellect that we use to lift ourselves up can be used to tear ourselves apart when we are wrapped in depression.
And the question remains as to what it means to ‘choose’ happiness. Smiling for me has nothing to do with happiness. Smiling may inspire happiness in others, but it can’t be used as a barometer for someone’s internal experience. Some people are naturally gregarious and share their internal experiences with all around them. Some of us prefer to protect our internal experience, knowing how easily we are affected by others, and when we have a little bit of joy we just cling to it, not wanting anyone to inadvertently rip it from our covetous hands. Shoot, am I opening the door to my inner workings a little too wide?
We may think we understand each other, but we miss all the little details, all of the little traumas that go into what makes us who we are. A man can never really understand a woman. A woman can never really understand a man. Someone who’s never been a minority can’t begin to understand what it means to be a minority. They can get a glimmer of it if they travel to a place where they are the minority, but then it is a different culture from their own home and they are looking through entirely different lenses than the ones they would have if they grew up there. Minorities don’t really understand what it is like to live in the majority. Even when they travel to places where the majority skin tone is the same as theirs, the culture and life experiences are different. There are thousands of little traumas that make us who we are. Rather than judging each other for them, we could start by acknowledging that we don’t really know where the other person is coming from. We can understand someone intellectually, but unless we experience all of the little traumas that went into their life, and into their very DNA, we can’t really know them.
Choosing happiness is not just a thing to say, as if it should come natural to our human experience. It is not the norm of this world we are engulfed in. Choosing happiness is an act of upliftment and therefore a spiritual practice. It is not turning a blind eye to the world, but engaging and understanding that we are never going to be content with what we are getting outside of ourselves. It is knowing that we are more than our external experiences and we can still choose our internal ones. It’s a damn struggle for most of us. But we can’t win the fight, if we don’t have the fight. At some point, we have to choose what it is we want out of this existence and go for it. Maybe that point should be today. If it is happiness we’re after, let our eyes be open to the fact that the world is a world of duality. If we’re going after something in the world, then it is a package. We’ll never get happiness separate from suffering there.
The light is surely at the end of this tunnel, but we have to choose to walk towards it.