I listen to business people, and spiritual leaders talk about being centered, balanced, and finding love and compassion for the human race. Most people go inside themselves and discover the exact opposite: a mind that never shuts up, emotions that are like quicksand, and sexual energy that consumes them. They have no idea how to deal with their local insane asylum. I always hear great advice, but rarely, if ever, do I hear anyone discuss the nuts and bolts of how to do it. It’s easy to give advice and very difficult to get on the raft and take a journey with someone who wants to connect to spirit. The most difficult thing to do is quiet the human mind. It’s like a birdcage full of screaming canaries that keeps just about everyone on edge. We analyze it, we try to figure out what makes it run, we give wonderful advice to other people, but the mind continues on its nonstop journey. It exhausts people who have no idea how to free them selves from this mental prison.
When I was younger, I had a very deep spiritual need. At the same time, it was clear to me that I could never get free of my chaotic mind and emotions without training. I spent nine years looking for a spiritual teacher; traveled half around the world until I met him in the place I was born (New York City). They say, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think this is a great truth. The reason I stayed with this teacher was very simple: he didn’t just give advice; it wasn’t the old love, peace and eat vegetables mantra. He actually developed a technique of inner work that when practiced on a continuous basis, quieted the mind, relaxed the emotions, and transformed the inner insane asylum into love, joy, and a compassionate way of living. One learned how to live in the world and be free of the world at exactly the same time.
It took me four years to quiet my mind; it took many more years to develop an inner life that gave enough strength to live consciously in the moment. I realized that happy people are the only successful people on earth. It means their hearts are open; it means that they can stay centered no matter what the circumstances; it means that they are able to transform both positive and negative situations into a better life for themselves. To find a truly happy person is like finding the Holy Grail – a nonjudgmental person who can keep their opinions quiet, who can live with a twinkle in their eye, and have empathy for the human condition. They don’t judge anyone; they’ve learned to let go of their position in the world, because, that, like everything else, becomes a limitation.
We all want to love and be loved. That is, perhaps, the most basic need of every human being. But, if we don’t love ourselves, if we can’t live with our hearts open, how is it possible to love other people. Once we free ourselves from ourselves, every form of success is possible.
After years of meditation practice, writing, publishing books, and teaching people around the world, I’ve come to realize that the solution to all of this is very simple. We are born here to be happy. Once we learn this, once we are capable of sustaining happiness from day to day, our karma is finished. We can finally get off the merry-go-round of human suffering.