Wednesday, June 22, 2011
"Thou shalt have no other gods before me."
--Exodus 20:3 (KJV)
It is rare that a quote from the Bible shows up on my fridge, especially one from the Old Testament, but I had a realization this weekend that gives this quote a whole new meaning for me.
My husband and I have an inside joke that the best time in my life was right before I met him. This is in no way a slight on him, my love for him or the gratitude I feel at having him in my life, and yet, in a way, it's absolutely true.
While I have always known that I consider the three months prior to meeting my husband "the happiest time in my life," I had never really asked myself why until this weekend.
My husband and I were talking about happiness and I mentioned, once again, that this had been the happiest time in my life. "I wonder why?" he asked. And for the first time I really thought about it.
Suddenly it came to me: false gods.
Da-ding! In an instant I understood this commandment like never before. This wasn't the angry call of a tyrant God demanding all of our loyalty and attention, this was the loving suggestion of a Mother/Father God wanting the best for us.
The time in my life when I was the happiest was the time in which I was making no ONE thing in my life into THE thing in my life.
I was working a little, playing a little and just generally staying on an even keel. (I honestly don't remember what my relationship with spirituality was at that time in my life.....was I going to church? Sometimes? Once in awhile? Was I even thinking directly about God? I'm not sure...)
Since then I have made many things into false gods: my boyfriend, my fiance', my husband, my house, my children, my running, my television shows, my spirituality, my writing, MY, MY, MY. (When identifying a false god let MY be your guide....)
For a few brief months in my mid-twenties I actually managed to live in the present, but ever since I have been pursuing happiness through the worship of false gods.
Anytime I think any one thing is going to be the key to happiness, I put too much focus, too much energy, too much HOPE into it. Once I have done that, I can pretty much guarantee that happiness will elude me. Because a "thing" (even in the form of a person you love) can never bring lasting happiness.
Since having this revelation, I have been struck by the fact that this is not just a tenant of the Christianity I was raised with, but of other "brands" of spirituality as well.
Zen Master Linji put it this way, "If You Meet The Buddha On The Road, Kill Him." If you think you have found the answer, keep searching, you still have a ways to go.
The other day at yoga, in the midst of a beast of a pose, our teacher gave us this manta, "My happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct of what I do..." Happiness does not come from WHAT we do, but from HOW we do it. With love, with kindness, with passion, and with compassion, for ourselves and for others.
Muslim poet and Sufi mystic Rumi said:
"Out beyond the field of right-doing and wrong-doing
There is a field
I will meet you there."
I would put it this way:
Out beyond the field of answers (ie. false gods)
There is a field of no answers
I will meet you there.