By Swami Chetanananda
If you ask me what the fundamental problem with humanity is, I would say it is the disease of the ego. The disease of the ego is that sense of separateness that also implies a competition for resources and a struggle for acceptance and then dominance and so forth. Another way of putting it is that it leads to a struggle for control.
If that’s the fundamental problem, then the solution is very unbelievably simple. It’s unbelievably simple. Opening your heart is the solution. In opening our hearts, first of all we’re releasing tensions and allowing our creative energy to flow, which makes us healthier physically and mentally and emotionally and intellectually. Secondly, we’re discovering a place within ourselves that is pure sweetness and beauty and love. In that place we also discover that we are completely interconnected with every other human being on the planet and the total environment. We discover that we have emerged from the biosphere, that we will dissolve into the biosphere, and that any and all of it is within us and we are within it. There is nothing else.
We’re completely connected. Discovering that connection creates an ever-increasing flow. This discovery generates health on a physical level; on a mental and emotional level, it produces clarity, generosity, gratitude. On a spiritual level it is total well-being, abundance (not of a material kind), and unconditional love.
So, the essence of the practice is opening your heart every day. Why waste your energy on the struggle? It is absolutely something you cannot win. There is one rule to the game of life, and only one rule to the game of life. That rule is: you play, you lose. That’s the rule. That’s why there are such things as hermits and monks and wandering ascetics—people who forget about the world. Instead, they go about every day exploring the inner world that begins with opening their hearts. Exploring what it is to lose the world and be found in unconditional love. Think of it.
As we see in the Sufi tradition, the dervishes left the world behind. The same with the yogis, the sadhus, and the chöd practitioners. When you step out of the world completely, you’ve just moved outside of time. The uprising, upwelling, of love and joy and beauty dissolves the ego, dissolves every sense of separateness, pacifies every dimension of our body, mind and emotions, satisfies us and allows us to leave the world.
This is amazing, dazzling, wondrous work that just keeps on blessing us. The first moment you can each day, open your heart, feel that movement within you, breathe into that sweetness, merge your breath in that sweetness, and get up and get about your day. At the point that your breath and that sweetness have merged, you have completely left the world, because there is nothing at all the world is going to give you that you don’t already have in yourself. The truth is there is nothing in the world that is going to give anybody, ever, anything close to what we already have in ourselves. I just have endless compassion for anybody who thinks they’re going to find something out there that is going to make them happy because well, good luck, sailor. Whatever comes up between you and that sweetness, just let it go. Let it go.
While we all still deal with the world every day, we can leave every worldly aspiration, every need for worldly approval on any level that we might have, and every expectation of the world. We can instead live in the incredibly rich and beautiful experience of the presence of our own sweetness.