[This journal entry was originally written on October 29th, 1997. As always, you can read what Jay thinks about this subject now in the Post Script.]
Wherever you are, whoever you are, whatever you’ve done, whatever you do; you deserve happiness. Don’t get caught in a bitterness trap, or a fearful cycle, or even a comfortable cycle. Whether it’s “I’ve done this nearly my whole life; I can’t make up for the wrongs I’ve done, I can’t change…” or if it’s “Well, I’ve done well, nobody despises me, plenty of people love me, I’m all right like this…”, you’re falling for the same trap. Whether you’re perfectly comfortable or perfectly miserable, you can find a greater degree of happiness, and all it takes is acknowledging love.
We’re here to be happy. We’re here to learn about and experience love. Heaven is not a reward at the end of a long path of suffering. It’s not a retirement home where you get to take it easy after you’ve done a good job on Earth. It’s a state of mind, a state of being, that you can have at any moment you decide to have it. By the same token, Hell is not a place filled with fire and brimstone and suffering. It’s not a pit you get cast into for making bad choices and living wrong. It’s where you live when you’re a mean person, a cruel person. It’s the only way a man can demonstrate such behavior, when his heart and mind are filled with hate and fear.
So many things have been twisted and misinterpreted since they first fell on man’s all but deaf ears. Heaven and Hell; God will make you pay for this; God is punishing me, God is rewarding me. Isn’t it obvious that all these beliefs, all these concepts, are founded on fear? God is not about fear, the After and Before life have nothing to do with fear, and we needn’t live in or with fear.
Hell is unhappiness. The further you move away from Spirit, the deeper you find yourself in Hell. The less love you have in your heart, the more fear doth dwell within. The more love you cultivate, within and without (for there is no difference); the more you experience Heaven. Heaven is not a land without difficulty, it is a heart without fear… for love makes the difficult easy, the impossible possible.
Post Script – I Completely Disagree
Not everyone deserves happiness. There, I said it. Not everyone deserves wealth, or health, or people that love them. The people who deserve these things are the people who value and cultivate these things. The people who don’t make the effort to point themselves in the right direction and speed themselves down the path to these things don’t deserve to reach them. These things are rewards, not rights.
I think everyone deserves a shot at happiness, but evidence would show that the Universe disagrees. The same goes for any other good thing worth having. Oddly enough, it seems that the pursuit of any of these things is at least as important as the attainment itself.
I can agree with the sentiment of this entry, but it is not spelled out as a clear message by any stretch of the imagination. Between the lines, Yesterday Jay is saying something kind of beautiful. In essence, there is an attempt here to acknowledge that beneath all of our trauma and reactivity is a playful being whose very fabric is woven love and whose very existence is infinite intelligence personified. Then it kind of goes off the rails.
Defining Heaven and Hell from such a personal perspective reveals more ignorance than wisdom, and I have grown enough to acknowledge that there are realms in this endless reality sandwich that can seem pretty hellish or heavenly to the normally Earth-bound tourist. That being said, time and experience have definitely shown me how completely each of us creates our own realities. Some kind of hell is, somehow, popular.
When I was a kid, I was particularly intimidated by angry and grumpy people. I felt like if I smiled or said “hi” to someone and they didn’t return my smile or my greeting, I had somehow lost some test for coolness. Sadly, there was a time that I decided to be that douche, albeit unconsciously. When I was depressed and lost and confused, smiling felt fake and friendliness felt like a monumental effort that I just didn’t have the energy for. Yet even then I made the effort and just felt fake, not wanting to be one of those grumpy self-absorbed people I had always feared.
It taught me a lot, though, spending real time with sadness and then anger and finally happiness. It’s pretty clear that the people who go out of their way to hurt someone else aren’t brimming over with joy. I lost my fear of grumpy people, along with my patience for them, and was happy to see them replaced with a pleasantly aloof compassion.
Happiness can be a super tricky thing, especially in that it does indeed feel like it should be a right on some sacred level within each of us. Yet the very nature of happiness implies that it cannot be a given; furthermore, it is not some trophy or reward that can be won once and then be forevermore in your possession. Once it has been mastered on one level or in one category, happiness will call attention to the next level of play or the next category to be addressed. It will slip off the playing field entirely if the seeker keeps trying to play the same old game.
To say the happy person doesn’t do any damage along the way, at least to someone’s perception, is a sweet and terribly naive thought. There was a time when I thought that there was some point of personal perfection to be reached after which every person and situation could be given great compassion and consideration. It didn’t take long trying to practice some semblance of this to see that great compassion and consideration can make the energetic predators from all walks of life sniff the air while the energetically conservative give you a wide berth.
It’s not the attainment of some perfection that keeps happy hanging about; it’s the continued striving for it. It doesn’t mean you can make an unhappy person happy, but it does show you how to make a happy person happier. It also shows you how staying out of other people’s personal hells is as important as not creating your own. When we set aside our compassion for ourself to extend compassion to another, it inherently snuffs that bright flame of happiness. When both can exist in the same space, the flame burns brighter.
As advice to myself, I’d say this entry stands the test of time. As statement of some profound truth, which seems to be the tone of it, I say again: I completely disagree. Plenty of people could give a shit about the path to happiness, or even the deeper meaning of the word; and Heaven and Hell are far more complex subjects than can be confined to imagined states of mind. The most enjoyable thought in all of this is looking ahead to the day when I read this and say, “Oh, you idiot…”