Imagine: you have spent years educating yourself in science, technology, engineering, and math. You’re making stellar contributions in your field. You’ve earned respect from colleagues and peers, and the world sees you as successful. But something’s missing. Something huge. Let’s admit it: all that education and brilliance and you’re still trying to learn how to get your happy on.
Fear not, young Grasshopper. You are at the portal beyond which happiness waits for you. Let’s go there.
The Wisdom of Listening Deeply
Kung Fu Master Po challenges the novice Caine: “Close your eyes. What do you hear?”
Caine responds: “I hear the water. I hear the birds.”
The Master challenges: “Do you hear your own heartbeat?”
Master Po: “Do you hear the grasshopper which is at your feet?”
Frustrated, Caine responds: “Old man, how is it that you hear these things?”
With the wisdom of experience, Master Po asks Caine: “How is it that you do not?”
In your daily life, what do you hear? What would you hear if you really listened? Would you hear the novice at your feet, seeking your wisdom? Would you hear your own heart as it beats, the sound of your breath?
Your Opportunity for Deeper Perception
When happiness and joy elude you, you are called to live more fully in to the more basic, grounded, life-affirming world around you. Instead of just sight, use your ears. That is, the opportunity is more like this:
- to perceive less with the eyes;
- to analyze less with the mind;
- to open your heart far beyond the grinding aerobics of the limited but brilliant work you perform.
In this analogy, the Master encourages you to deeper perception, deeper connection. Your doorway into happiness cannot be seen. It must be “heard.”
So, how is it that we do not always “hear” what is right before us?
Sometimes we are so focused on “seeing” one course of inquiry that we miss the obvious because we didn’t listen for it.
Your Slice of Enlightenment Awaits
There is an old proverb that says:
“Before enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water; after enlightenment, chopping wood, carrying water.”
Perhaps you’ve seen the small, carved figure of an Asian monk with an axe, a bundle of wood on his back, and a skin of water slung over his shoulder? The smile on his face and the tears in his eyes are meant to illustrate the enlightened paradox of sadness and joy.
To meld this proverb with Master Po’s lesson to Caine, we might say:
What you see as sadness, young Grasshopper, can be heard as joy.
Please don’t overthink this! It’s just an invitation. The dissatisfaction you feel means you are ready for the enlightenment that opens you to the music of joy.
It’s Easier Than You Think
Enlightenment is often intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. All we really want is to walk through the door to joy, right? We don’t have to be rocket scientists to go there. But, like Caine, we do need to be willing to allow ourselves to hear what we have previously only seen.
Hold on to the analogy, because it’s about to get deep.
To really embody the paradox of sight and sound – to hear what’s right in front of us that we can’t see – we wake up our sense of hearing.
Still with me?
Nothing wakes up hearing better than music, especially when the music has words that help guide us through the paradox. For guidance, we’re going to reach out to a multi-talented musician who really gets this: Lizzo. This is her Tiny Desk concert for NPR, and it’s 17 minutes of life-changing instruction in how to be both sad and happy. That’s what the blues are all about.
Did you hear that? The truth that hurts and heals? How to be both angry and peaceful? The song that is both happy and sad? Grasshopper, that’s the blues! Even the baby in the audience got it. Did you?
A Parting Shot
Look, you’re an intelligent human being. You’re built to be a vibrational resonator. We can’t help this physiological fact: humans are born this way.
If you think you’re ready, let Lady Gaga complete today’s lesson.
It’s all about acceptance. The moment you see and hear, you have come awake…on the other side of the doorway to happiness. At that moment, the energy of your sadness pushes you through to joy. You got this, Grasshopper. Now you know how to get your happy on.
Got questions? We can help.
Reach out here, here, or here. Want more of an introduction to Bill, what he does, and why? Excellent podcast guest appearances featuring Bill are great ways to hear how the intelligent use of music can work for you, and this is a good one. If video is more your thing, here’s Bill’s YouTube channel.