"I don't mind what happens."
It's not that simple. It can't be, right?
One of the twentieth century's great spiritual teachers, Jiddu Krishnamurti, blurted out this statement during one of his frequent talks in California back in the 70’s after asking the audience if they wanted to know his secret to happiness.
So this handsome globe-trotting sage who for more than 50 years emphasized the benefits of self-inquiry, and who famously refused to give straight answers to questions from his audience because he believed that for answers to mean something they must arise from within, suddenly breaks down a lifetime of teaching into a five-word answer that even Hallmark might dismiss as too insipid to inspire anyone?
If it weren’t for the fact that his statement was as deep as it was simple, he would deserve all the groans and exasperated head slaps we could aim in his direction.
What Krishnamurti was saying, was that embracing whatever life hands us in any single moment is the key to happiness - not momentary happiness, like the kind we experience when we buy a new car or find a lost credit card, but the kind of happiness that never quite leaves, one that endures like the sun.
But is this possible? Could we be happy all the time, even, say, when accidentally bringing down a hammer on our thumb instead of the nail towering over it?
No, we can’t be happy every minute. This is life, not a sit-com.
Of course we are going to mind a throbbing thumb. It hurts! Physical pain is inevitable. It comes with having a body.
It’s the other kind of pain that needlessly causes us so much grief: psychological pain, mental suffering. This pain wraps itself around us like an octopus in matters big and small, and can make physical pain seem so tolerable by comparison.
Psychological pain can come in the form of self-pity (why did it have to be my thumb getting hit with a hammer?), self-loathing (how could I have been such a clumsy idiot?), self-deception (somehow, this is my spouse’s fault), or a host of other self-inflicted emotional injuries.
Whereas a body part lies at the root of physical suffering, a “self” lies at the root of psychological suffering. Commonly known as the ego, this concept stands between you and a world free of psychological suffering - and that’s all it is, a concept. Sliced down to its pit, the ego is nothing but a conglomeration of thoughts, thoughts pretending to be “you”.
This false “you” is the belief that must be surrendered to live a life free of psychological suffering. In this surrendered state, things don’t happen to “you”; they just happen.
Remove “you” from the equation, the totally conceptual “you” that has ushered in tens of thousands of hours of unnecessary suffering over your lifetime, and there is no “one” left to suffer, no “one” to claim that the universe conspires to send daily doses of misery your way.
Such a shift in perception can fundamentally change your life. This is the transformational power of surrender.
Oh, you will still stub your toes and suffer migraines. And you will still experience the rainbow of emotions that characterize the human experience – joy, sadness, envy, love, and on and on.
Surrendering your “you-ness” won’t deprive you of feeling. You won't turn into a zombie. But your feelings won’t turn into problems anymore. They will occur as naturally as a sun shower or a snowstorm and in time they will run their course. Their presence will not be unnecessarily prolonged by the voice of a narrator intent on spinning feelings into stories, stories featuring “you” as a hero or a goat or a pitifully wronged party. Such is the play of ego, and such is the nature of psychological pain.
Just as the sun remains forever in the sky even when it is not in view, happiness will endure through life’s ups and downs for those willing to surrender to the inevitability of each moment.