Beyond Happiness, Part 2: Saints Are Everywhere
Updated: Jul 20
In Beyond Happiness, Part 1, we saw that an obsession with happiness is actually a recipe for misery; so we explored some less miserable options available for us in our inner worlds. That’s where real change takes place. And once you experience that change, even a little bit, you’ll begin to see that you aren’t the only one struggling. You may also notice that this struggle is reinforced by of an economic and social system that manufactures need in order to keep itself afloat. Need includes a perception of lack, which has to take root somewhere to be effective. That somewhere is the mind.
Moreover, if you closely observe the need-generating messages targeted at us, you'll notice that what we're told we need isn't limited to material objects being sold. These objects are wrapped in images of lifestyles and relationships that appear over and over as positive ambience for each ad. Over time, it becomes obvious that we need something; but the objects never quite do it for us, so our need grows. We need a new life. That life.
Consequently, many of us are obsessed with finding and keeping happiness. A closely related pursuit involves “finding my passion." But watch out: they're not the same thing. If you do find your passion, chances are it'll be linked to a strong sense of purpose -- and it will definitely bring some happiness. It will also bring a load of other emotional experiences, many of which will not be pleasant.
But the great thing about real purpose is that it sets up a value system that looks beyond your own happiness, always toward some kind of service. (If you put your true heart into anything you do beyond yourself, it’s service. It doesn’t matter what form it takes.)
Mother Teresa is a gorgeous example of service. So is Lady Gaga. So is Randy Rainbow, may God bless his hysterical soul, and so is the woman who works at the LabCorp in town and the man who refills my propane tank. These people aren’t infallible, but they do their thing with their whole heart and that’s divine. You know it when you see it. And you end up loving it too, because their love is infectious. They’re not thinking, “Oh, I’d be happy if only I had that thing over there.” Nope. They’re putting all their attentive juice into this thing here now, whatever it is.
And this is where we really have to take a moment to notice that there are saints everywhere. These are truly amazing people who are fully present. Connect with them and let them teach you by example. They might not call much attention to themselves; they don’t have to. They've got an undying flame of joy inside. They move through their whole life with a full heart – no expectations, just for the sake of doing it, because they know who they really are and it’s all a dance anyway.
You might be thinking: Ugh, I could never do that. I’m better than [working at the convenience store, or whatever you're judging]. I couldn’t ever be happy with that life! I’d be much happier doing x or y. They look so frumpy (or whatever). God, how can they even stand themselves? I’m so much better than that.
There's a fair chance that that person may be more spiritually advanced than you they are. Which is not to say that everyone struggling with difficult or low-wage work is actualized; there's no strong correlation there. But when you find someone doing something you’d never want to do, and they’re doing it with full presence and a warm open heart – you might well be in the presence of a spiritual ninja. Take heed and learn appropriately. Spiritual growth doesn’t track on the socioeconomic ladder – if anything, quite the opposite, though that’s not too consistent either.
Plus, guess what? Whatever it is you’re afraid to have to do might be just the thing you’re forced into later, the thing that gives you a real kick in the pants toward spiritual growth. You never know. If you fear it enough, it might be in the karmic cards.
When you tune into the totally present full-hearted frequency, you will find these saint-people often. Sometimes they’re Christian, sometimes they’re your student, sometimes they’re the plumber or the dentist. There seems to be an unusual number of saints at certain grocery stores. Sometimes people you thought you already knew well will become saints for a moment or two. You will lock eyes with them, and whether you chat or not, you will experience delight. Because you and that person are reflecting for each other your true nature, which is Love, Life, God, the Universe – choose your preferred term. And guess what? Your meeting right then is no accident.
Guess what else? Animals, plants, rocks, all non-human beings are always already living in this place. They are ready-made saints. They can’t be otherwise; it's their beautiful essence. Connect with them. Treasure them. Love them deeply for the total perfection they are. Protect them with all your soul and body and wit. They so, so deserve to flourish and be well.
This whole thing is also very funny, so don’t be surprised if, when you connect with any saintly being, there’s smiling or laughter or play involved. Of course it’s funny! You’re both aspects of Divine Being, but you’re stuck in this form and they’re stuck in that one, and here you are in your silly clothes and quirky sunglasses doing your errands in the world amidst a whole social apparatus that reinforces the already very strong illusion that we’re all separate beings having separate experiences of not-enoughness on just about every level.
What a predicament! One has to laugh.