Tag Archives: gratitude

Why Are You So Angry?

Social media is a good barometer of what lies within the collective human psyche. On the comments sections of blogs, news sites and web sites of all descriptions, the human population freely deposits the contents of their minds. Because many of these comments are anonymous, or delivered to people they don’t know and will never meet, people are more likely to be open about the thoughts that are actually running through their minds.

What then, is the most common mental state exhibited in the cyber world of today? The answer is straightforward. It is anger and blame.

People are angry at the government. They are angry at organisations. They are angry at those who disagree with them. And they are just plain pissed at the world.

This intrigues me, because the truth is that most of these angry people have never had it so good. For the most part, their lives are comfortable and free of physical threats. They are prosperous.

A century ago our ancestors had to walk to the local shop to get milk or ride a bicycle. The poor souls. Many unfortunate men died face down in the muck at the Battle of the Somme, screaming for their mothers as they sucked their last breath. And a century before that we had no penicillin and no antibiotics. Many people never made it much past forty. Most of the world’s population were peasants.

So what is it that people are so enraged about on social media today? Well, just looking through a few posts on my Facebook wall today, someone is angry people merely “tolerate” her kind. She wants real respect! Another is angry at Facebook because they apparently track people’s data. Then we have the usual rage at the stupid white man, Donald Trump. I don’t even remember the reason.

And then there is the person who is enraged because other people are enraged about a politically incorrect statement made by a left-leaning late-night talk show host who is normally enraged only at politically correct targets. But he slipped up this time. So the social justice warriors are now out to lynch him. Nobody is safe, it seems, from the anger of the masses.

Oh, the indignity of it all!

Step back for a moment and look at this clown show. Most of the teeth gnashing and projection of rage and shame is completely out of proportion with the issues that are being projected against.

More crucially, all this rage has made us forget how incredibly prosperous most of us actually are. We have lost the capacity for gratitude. In large part this is because media has become focused upon the darkness, and education has become focused on oppresssion and injustice. In the former case the intention is quite deliberate (to get you to click), while in the latter case the well-meaning leftist ideologies on human liberation have morphed into a hyper-critical obsession with oppression and injustice.

What you focus upon expands. It is a law of perception.

There is another reason why we should be grateful. We live in an age where we have masses of spare time, and where the amount of information and wisdom regarding psychological and spiritual well-being is at staggering levels. There is a veritable smorgasboard of professional and self-help wisdom available for anyone cognizant enough to turn on a smart phone or a computer. This humble blog is just one example.

Ultimately it comes down to this. There is one reason above all others why people are so angry today. They want more. They live in a society where gratitude has been forgotten, and where they are constantly reminded that they do not have enough. Are not enough.

The belief that you are not enough is psychological and spiritual suicde. The foundation of peace and presence is knowing that you are already enough. Already a magnificent being. And that you don’t have to become anything more. You don’t have to achieve anything. Your don’t even have to heal. Even as a wounded being, you are still an expression of universal perfection.

No, I am not saying you should not seek healing for your pain, nor that you should net seek to achieve, to create things that bring you or others joy and happiness. I am just saying that you are already enough. And nobody can actually take that perfection away from you. Not the government, not the conservatives, not the liberals. Not even Donald Trump.

You don’t need to be angry anymore. Not about these things. Sure, there are things and people that are justified causes of anger. But this post is not about those people and things.

Ironically, the human potential movement has inadvertently exacerbated the general sense of lack, the pervasive misery that defines much of life for so many of the people of today. Even as that same movement has granted people an expanded sense of possibility, it has instilled a sense of entitlement in many. Many people begin with a subtle belief that the world owes them a living, that just by being here they are entitled to things. But that is not how the world works.

We see this most notably in the university students protesting that professors are not granting them safe spaces, while believing that any given obstacle they encounter, any given failure, is the result of the actions of an oppressive other (usually another race, gender, sexual orientation, social construct or ideology). This may lead to a delusional mindset which lacks reflection and personal accountability. It is fundamentally infantile.

You better figure that one out, and quickly.

The actions required to shift towards gratitude and away from a scarcity mentality are simple. Give thanks for what you have on a daily basis. Remove your focus from the locales which support a culture of blame, shame and lack. Be present to the world and to others. Gratitude and love are spontaneous states of consciousness which emerge from presence. You don’t even have to try.

Of course, many of us will choose to keep being angry at things that are fleeting and illusory. And that, too, is our right. But what is the price that we will pay? The cost is our connection to this perfect moment in time. To our peace. To the love and gratitude that is our essential nature.

At an even deeper level, many of us have a deep-seated rage at God and the world, a destructive anger which leads us to reject the world, its people and our very lives. This is true even for many who do not consciously believe in God. That will be the subject of my next post.

Marcus

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Enough Already

BLOG POST: After living thirteen years in East Asia I now find myself living back in the old country, Australia. In fact it has been sixteen years since I left The Lucky Country; and just three weeks since I got back. So what do I notice that is different?

The first thing I appreciated is just how quiet it is here. To be fair, I am living with my brother in a small country town of Morwell (two hours drive from Melbourne), so it’s a huge contrast to the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. In Hong Kong it’s a fight just to find a seat at a coffee shop or at the shopping mall. The streets are teeming with people, and quite often you have to literally shoulder people as they push and shove their way around you. When I walk down the street here, I am lucky to see any other human beings at all! The quiet is both nice… and a little disconcerting. One is often left to deal with one’s own sense of life and experience.

It is beautiful here. There is green grass, there are trees. The sky is vast and blue, with crisp white and grey clouds moving slowly overhead. There are birds too, something that one almost never sees in China. Indeed I have been attacked by several magpie mothers; a common hazard in the spring, as mothers attempt to protect the nests which contain their young.

At night the heavens here open up to the vastness of space, a million stars greeting the observer from scores, hundreds and thousands of light-years away. I can’t ever remember seeing a star in China or Hong Kong. It was often hard enough to see the moon or sun. In Beijing the sky is almost always grey, even when there are no clouds.

My brother and I drove to a house just fifteen minutes away from here a few days ago. There was abundant scenery to be seen; in the yard there was a horse, a goat and three dogs. I sent my wife a few photos. She is in Beijing at present. She said she was very jealous of the natural world she saw, and the “endless rolling fields”.

But it’s damn expensive here. When I arrived at Melbourne airport, I caught a fifteen-minute airport bus to a downtown train station. It cost me AUS$17. By contrast, the fast train to Hong Kong airport from downtown only costs about AUS$11. It travels ten times further than the airport bus in Melbourne. In China I can travel on a fast train from Beijing to the coastal city of Qingdao – a six hour journey – for about AUS$30. Everything else is really expensive, too. The cost of living here is extreme – with some exceptions. I was in a department store today and saw men’s shoes for as little as $12 – made in China, of course! Rent is much cheaper than Hong Kong, and that even holds true closer to Melbourne than I am. In Hong Kong an extremely unfortunate situation has developed whereby the government and property developers have taken a stranglehold on the city. With each passing year people are forced into smaller and smaller apartments at higher and higher rents. Most are 400-500 square feet, and that accommodates entire families. The latest trend is for the young in Hong Kong to live in subdivided flats. Landlords can make more money by dividing their already tiny flats into several rooms. There university graduates living in “flats” as small as 16 square feet. That’s about twice the size of your average coffin.

In Hong Kong and China I ate at restaurants every day, often two times daily. My wage was high, and the food cheap. In my three weeks back in Australia I have not eaten once at a restaurant. I am making my own lunch and cooking dinner again for the first time in over a decade. That is not an exaggeration. I cannot remember the last time I cooked a meal before my return!

Everything else costs more too. The internet, mobile phone bills, cinema tickets, coffee shops, you name it.

I have been complaining about the cost of living here, but then yesterday I listened in to a webcast by my favourite spiritual teacher, Leonard Jacobson. He was talking about abundance. He said that abundance does not always come in the form you think it does. Later that day I went to the gym not far from my brother’s house. As usual, after entering the gym I brought myself into presence by focusing on my breath, and my body. To do this I bring my energy out of “the head”, and get really grounded. When I did this yesterday it hit me. I already have access to abundance beyond imagining. All my immediate needs have been met since I arrived here. My judgment at the cost of living was just getting in the way of my experiencing how “rich” I already am.

 

After my workout, I went into the changing room, and ran the water in the washbasin. I cupped the water in my hand, and brought it to my mouth. I drank. It was cool and refreshing. “Wow!” I said to myself. For thirteen years in Asia I was unable to drink from a tap. Pure, fresh running water is available to everyone in Australia. What a gift! Then I looked in the mirror, and saw a very healthy 46 year old man staring back at me. How wonderful it is that I have my health, and can even engage in the vanity of going to a gym to shape my middle-aged physique. That was unimaginable in my parents’ day. I then walked out into the parking lot and jumped in my recently purchased car. Before my return to Australia I had not driven for thirteen years. Now  I find myself driving in a wonderful vehicle; second-hand but in great condition.

When I got back to my brother’s place, he had cooked dinner for me. It was a cool winter’s evening, but the gas heater was already on, warming the simple house.

Yes, that was when I really got it. The present is already rich in meaning and wonder. Why then do we always want for so much more? Many modern “spiritual” philosophies also encourage people to want more, and even that it is “spiritual” to do so. The New Age movement is full of such thinking. The best-selling The Secret (video and books) is perhaps the classic case. It has sold countless millions of copies. Yet as far as I am aware, nowhere in any of its teachings does it tell us the greatest secret of all. That there are riches beyond imagining right here and now, if only we stop, breathe deeply and still ourselves long enough to see and feel the magic.

In presence the mind stops longing and returns to a state of grace, where goodness is seen in everything; love in everyone. Gratitude becomes spontaneous. That is because in the silence of the present moment, we become love itself. And what a priceless gift that is.

Blessings,

Marcus

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