A Life of Deep Happiness

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This blog post is taken from Thea’s CEU of the same name, “A Life of Deep Happiness.” If you enjoy this post and would like to earn 3 CEU credits, purchase the self-guided CEU here offered at a 50% discount through December 24, 2020.

A Life of Deep Happiness

It’s so dark, it’s dark, it’s dark, it’s really dark, it’s so bad. There’s a giant octopus of darkness and it’s got all of its tentacles wrapped around me. I’m doomed! Can you hear me? I’m doomed. I’ve got to stay where it’s really bad, because if I don’t stay here, where I go from here could be worse.

There’s actually nothing that can be done about it. I’ve already figured out. I’ve hired a lawyer. It’s called the Advocate of Darkness. I hired this advocate of darkness to troubleshoot for me everything that could ever possibly go wrong, and inform me in advance. I’ve invested a lot in this. I’m getting continuous messages about all the things that could go wrong. I get emails from the Advocate of Darkness constantly, directly into my brain. They come in directly at Bladder 3 and they tell me, “This could go wrong… and that could go wrong… and did you think of this?” It’s brilliant, brilliant what this Advocate of Darkness comes up with to warn me about.

Not only am I getting little emails through Bladder 3 about anything that could go wrong, but I’m actually getting youtube videos also. Those show up at Bladder 2. I can picture it all so clearly, just as though there was a dark screen in front of me at all times. The emails from the Advocate of Darkness come in, and they say, “Click on this link to see exactly what this nightmare vision would look like.”

A lot of people subscribe to the Darkness Advocacy Intelligence Hijack Network. Being intelligent means knowing about all the possible ways that things could go wrong — that’s what being intelligent is, right? The Advocate of Darkness is alerting you to everything that could possibly go wrong, and you’ve actually clicked on the link and gotten the video of it, so you know just how bad it could be. Given the processing speed most people have signed up for, for their bad news intelligence service, the number of videos of how bad it could be that it’s possible to be watching at any given time here in Bladder 2 is extraordinary. This means that there are a lot of times when we’re not just looking at what’s in front of us; we’re looking at it all through a weltering swarm of youtube videos from the Advocate of Darkness, just warning us so that we’ll feel safe. Right.

We live in a culture that has “Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! Warning! You’re not safe! You’re not safe!” coming at us from all over, and then we have to booze ourselves or drug ourselves into deep sedation in order not to be on emergency alert all the time—in order to relax. You are doomed! It’s going to be bad! It’s incredible, the amount of danger we feel the need to be aware of, in order to feel safe.

Yes, there is danger, and plenty of it—but this is no way to handle it.

Bladder 3 houses the CIA, the Catastrophic Intelligence Agency. It’s up here, looking out at the world from the highest promontory: let’s call it Paranoiac’s Peak. Looking out into the world, I feel the need to be aware of every single potential threat. I feel the need to be able to picture it in detail, also. I’m peering into the darkness. And you know what? It’s dark in the dark. You can’t really see very much. We are not in the Gallbladder meridian now. You’re just standing there on Paranoiac’s Peak looking around in the dark, hoping you’ll see something before it hits you.

But you know, you might not see it coming. It’s dark out there. So you have to buy a security system, an alarm, a perimeter movement detector, an artificial barking dog sound whenever anybody sets foot on the property. Then will you be safe?

One of the main things you’ll notice when you’re up on Paranoiac’s Peak is what Ted Kaptchuck calls ‘existential vertigo.’ It’s a long way down, man. The mineshaft opens. That’s how you know you’re in your head—it’s a long way down. That’s how you know you’re nowhere near Kidney 1.

Would you please go ahead right now and find Kidney 1 on yourself (bottom of the foot)? It’s great if you’re in a position where you can touch both of them at once. One of the nicest things about touching Kidney 1 on both sides is that it does wonders for your pelvis. The head curves forward and you lean down into your own pelvis, saying; ‘Duh, where’s Kidney 1?’ It’s not that hard to find, thank god, and even just looking for it, especially bilaterally, brings us out of our head, and off of Paranoiac’s Peak.

It’s worth playing with this. Try going up in your head and feeling how far away Kidney 1 is. And then come back down, “huh, duh, where’s Kidney 1?” and settle down, sitting at the bottom of your pelvis, feeling into Kidney 1, and getting cozy with it. How could I possibly have a healthy Water element if my feet are far away? In my so-called intelligence, do I actually have my feet on the ground?

Water has to do with where capability really comes from: potency, power, ability, security, and confidence. A tremendous amount of this rests on Kidney 1. Am I in my own foundation? Am I right here, where I actually am, standing where I stand, in touch with what’s bubbling up now? In Water, there’s a polarity between intelligence and capability, or between the head and the feet, which in health becomes a beautiful unity called being able to think on your feet. You can’t think on your feet if you are not in touch with your feet, no matter how intelligently you’re thinking. It’s like those nightmares where you see the danger coming right at you, and you can’t move; your feet are glued to the ground. Why? Because you’re not in them. You’re watching it all from Paranoiac’s Peak.

It’s often very hard for overly-intelligent people who are wrapped up in the Catastrophic Intelligence Agency reports to be able to feel the ground securely beneath their feet. Being more fully in our feet does not make us blind to danger. If you’ve got your feet on the ground, you can feel the vibrations. If the horsemen are coming, you’ll feel it in your sleep. It’ll rumble through the ground. Then you can power up all your intelligence. But through our feet, we get back to a very simple, very primitive sense of security. We’re feeling what’s bubbling up from the ground, being in touch, being right here.

Kidney 1 is a very good point for the inability to come to a stop, for the inability to rest that comes not just from all those emails of danger coming in but also the over-tiredness that makes you feel like, ‘oh if I get all the way down to rock bottom, will I ever get back up again?’ Actually, when you get all the way down to the bottom, there’s a bubbling spring. You could call it the carbonation balance point for your personal soda. Some people’s Water element is like fizz! They’re like a soda can that’s been shaken really hard. There isn’t much in the can, but there’s a lot of fizz! With a carbonated Water element, as long as I keep the soda can shaking with hectic swift non-stop action, I feel like I have a lot of energy! But I don’t want to stop because actually all I have is shaken soda, not real energy. When I’m in that state, I’m not sure I want to know that.

Let’s hit the reset button here. Let’s not even get started on the Water element, whether we’re talking about a realistic assessment of danger or rejuvenation, until we can get to square one, which is Kidney 1: feet firmly planted on the earth, with a bubbling spring beneath them.

Now see if you can find your sacrum from the inside. Most people, when they get in touch with their sacrum, they get in touch with the outside of their sacrum. I mean the inside of the sacrum. Putting a hand there on the back of the sacrum can help because it’ll keep you from just being up in your head looking down towards the sacrum. Depending on how you’re feeling gymnastically, putting one hand on Kidney 1 and the other hand on your sacrum is really nice for coming down out of our head and into our foundations.

Feel for the inside of your sacrum; where’s the inside of it? I’m talking about the side of the bone with meat attached—all the little tendons and ligaments right in there. Feel that flat, strange, craggy bone. Feel the warmth on the inside of that bone. Feel the sacrum as it connects down to where the tailbone curls. Can you even feel that part of yourself? It might be very tight right around the joint between coccyx and sacrum. If it’s hard to find it and feel it from the inside, it’s probably tight. You may need to find what’s called the caudal reflex in your brain. It’s the part of your brain that still knows how to wag a tail. You have the neurons for it. Move your tail a little bit! Feel, on the inside of the sacrum, as the warmth and aliveness go up the inside of the sacrum and connects to the vertebrae. There’s a secret pathway that runs up on the inside of the sacrum and lumbar vertebrae; it’s an internal portion of the kidney meridian. Feel it come up inside the sacrum, spreading its warmth. It comes up to ming men, spreading warmth in all directions as it moves out towards the navel and then down the front of the belly (as well as up to the chest, but let’s focus down below for now).

Take your hands and bring them to your low belly, the lower Dan Tian, the place where the Golden Fetus lives. The Golden Fetus is the stem cells of your soul, the tiny, embryonic you. There you are floating, as the seed of all potential.

When a baby is inside of us, we don’t really know exactly what it’s going to be like when it grows up. You can’t really tell. And yet already within it is a character that could outwardly manifest in so many different ways—all contained within the embryonic seed. When we ask ‘who am I?’ from Water, we’re not asking with reference to worldly accomplishment. When we ask ‘who am I?’ in Water, we’re asking, “what is the nature of Golden Fetus? This floating potential, what are its qualities? It doesn’t even have a name yet.”

Get yourself a piece of paper and a pen. I’m going to ask you to write something. Across the top of the page, please write in clear, capital letters ‘A LIFE OF DEEP HAPPINESS.’ Put your non-writing hand where it can connect with that Golden Fetus for another moment inside. You don’t have to keep your hand there but you may want to bring it back just to stay in touch. Take ten minutes to write about what a life of deep happiness—not fleeting happiness, not momentary happiness, not oh whoop-de-doo-dah happiness—to write what a life of deep happiness would consist of. Check if there are places where you’re defining a life of deep happiness in terms of negatives: ‘no more worry about this,’ ‘no this,’ and ‘no that,’ and make sure you change them to ‘yes, what.’

Time to write, then pause

Water is all about questions. Wisdom is all about really good questions. When you play the game ‘20 Questions,’ there are really good questions, and then there are the kinds of questions where you could spend all your time questioning and get nowhere. It’s sort of like surfing the net; you can spend a lot of time, but are you a good searcher? Wisdom is knowing what is a good question, and what kinds of questions are actually a waste of time and resources.

The Buddha spoke of ‘questions that tend towards edification’ and ‘questions that do not tend towards edification.’ As far as this life of deep happiness that you have described, it is actually not a question that tends towards edification to ask why you are not living that life right now. There are a thousand could-be might-be answers, and you’ll never really know: Was it Gods’ will? Is it because your mother was not home enough? Was it because you went to the wrong school? Was it because your toenails did not appeal to the pediatrician and they put you in the other bassinet? Why, why, why? It’s not a question that tends towards edification.

It IS a question that tends towards edification to ask, “Am I going for this life of deep happiness?” It is a question that tends towards edification to ask, “If not, why not?” Is there loss of heart? What happened there? These are places of Water element healing that we need to have brought to our attention.

The gift or power of Water—ZHI—is often translated as ‘will,’ but so many of the examples of will in our culture are so unhealthy and so utterly divorced by what the Chinese meant by ZHI that’s it’s almost not a worthwhile word to use, to convey what the Chinese mean by this term.

What is the ‘will’ to live? It’s something very deeply connected with a life of deep happiness. It’s something very connected to what makes us decide to keep on going for it. Stephen Cowan, pediatrician-sage, says it’s more accurate to translate it as ‘willingness.’ How’s your willingness to live? Do you have a strong willingness to live—or not really?

The strength of someone’s willingness to live often has a lot to do with what would consist of a life of deep happiness for a being of your own nature. A life of deep happiness is not the same if you are a starfish, not a moose; or if you are a geranium, not a coconut tree. What would a life of deep happiness consist of for you? And are you going for it?

The will to live a life that is not your life, eh! You could see how much coffee that would require to get going in the morning! You could see how much self-beating and razzing and goosing forward is required to keep that exhausting charade going, and in our culture that is called ‘willpower.’

Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée says that the purpose of the will is to help us to remain true to our own nature through all the stage of our development, from birth through maturation to decline. She says “It is not a sign of a strong will to make a decision and then stick with it no matter what.” She says there are many people who believe that they have a strong will, but what they have is not actually a strong will but a blockage at the level of the diaphragm caused by a strong idea that is actually separating the kidney from the heart. Have you a strong will, or a strong stick that you beat yourself with? How are you using your power? The test comes when I take the time to ask: what would a life of deep happiness—not passing happiness—bone-deep happiness consist of for me? And then not asking ‘why don’t I have it now?’ A thousand and one reasons. We may never sort that one out but, why am I not steering my ship by that north-star? What else am I doing with my willpower? Look here for wounded Water. Look here for healing.

Who am I? What would a life of deep happiness consist of for an organism like me—there’s your instruction manual. Am I willing to live as myself, and starting here? I must accept, for instance, that I really am more interested in pottery than in being a doctor. I don’t have within me the will to go through medical school. I’m not built like that. I am only 5’ 2” and basketball may not be in my all-star future. Can I start with accepting what is, and what I am? From the nature of the being that I am, I am made with certain desires; Elisabeth Rochat de la Vallée calls them “the desires of my proper nature.” There are things that I am meant to want—it’s written in me. What are those desires? They are clues to what I’m supposed to be doing here. Not what my family told me to want, not what school told me to want, not what my peer group at 13 or 19 told me to want, but the deep desires of my nature. For the life of deep happiness, for me, for that fetus floating; what is the desire that is proper to me, and that is at the root of the flame that is my willingness to live?

There’s a lot of potential discouragement that goes on:

‘Oh yeah I tried going for what I really want; it didn’t work.’

‘C’mon, man, what are we talking about? I’m just trying to survive.’

Surviving is good. You don’t get to live a life of deep happiness if you don’t survive. I absolutely respect, and consider prerequisite, survival for living a life of deep happiness. If you are currently running from a saber tooth tiger, run! Do it! There’s no argument; there’s no conflict between survival and the life of deep happiness.

All too often there’s a sense of ‘hey, I’m not thinking about happiness; I’m only thinking about survival.’ Is that step one of your journey, or are you looking no further? I want to broaden the question. What are you surviving for? Why is it worth surviving? There is a dullness and a weariness that increases, body and soul, when we are working hard to survive but not for anything in particular—not for anything we’re looking forward to. There are a lot of matching funds from the universe that just aren’t available for something other than living out our mandate. We are given a seed, and we’re meant to plant it in this soil, and grow it out, and bear fruit. We don’t become fruitful if we don’t even plant the seed. I’ve been given an assignment. Whose life am I living?

Liu I Ming says “To do anything less than fulfill one’s destiny may be called the crime of hiding from heaven.” What would a life of deep happiness consist of for you? It’s your job to steer the ship in that direction. It’s your job. It’s why you were given life. There is an instruction manual inside of you. You don’t get to read it by asking the question; ‘how do I just get by?’ You won’t get the answer to questions like “Who am I?” “What is my purpose?” “What am I doing here?” “Why was I sent?” by asking ‘how do I just get by?’ That lesser question doesn’t unlock it. If you ask “what would a life of deep happiness consist of for me,” that opens the inner ocean. Don’t bother asking “why am I not there now,” but “how do I steer my ship that way?” That’s what to ask.

These intimations of a life of deep happiness are actually a message sent by the Dao. The deep faith of the Kidneys is, even after all the so-called failures that we’ve met along the way, continuing to believe that we can trust this message. Over and over again, healing means coming back into relationship with the secret message and believing in it again.

Can you feel inside of you where you keep your secrets? When you’re keeping a secret, where do you keep it? See if you can find that place in your body. Where are your secrets kept? Because there’s a really important secret kept there: the secret of your happiness, the secret of your design, the secret of your mission, the secret of why you’re here. It’s a secret. It’s dark in there.

Here’s the winter assignment: Can you sit where you keep your secrets, and also stay in touch with your heart? What’s the road like between those two places? When we go to where the secrets are kept, it’s a dark inner place, and sometimes it seems like there’s no way to communicate from there to the rest of the world. When I’m where the secrets are kept, it’s like a bank vault, nine miles underground. When I’m up in my heart I can share, but I can’t share all that stuff, where is it? It disappeared. Can I be in my heart and be in touch with my secrets at the same time? Can I be in touch with my secrets — maybe secret even from me but I know where they are—and also be in touch with my heart?

Often the last time that this doorway was really open was when we were 13, 14, 15 years old. It’s a magical time. The life gate, the reproductive space is starting to open and it hasn’t been stuffed full of bullshit yet. Something opens; we know the secret of our lives when we’re 13, 14, 15; we know something. We don’t know how to say it. We don’t know how to live it yet, but we’re looking out into the world while the corridor is open between the secret place in the depths and the heart.

It’s really cool to look back at the age when we knew things that our parents were completely clueless about. Remember that? That was real. We all had that time when something opened on the inside—the secret door was opened and our hearts were privy to secret knowledge—we knew something. Teenagers get a little confused sometimes about whether they have the complete knowledge of everything, but they do have the knowledge of something. There’s a kind of authority that teenagers have, which gets very misunderstood. It ticks off their parents a lot, how suddenly superior these teenagers are, because they know something and all grown-ups, especially our parents, are complete and utter fools because they had the same access to the same Jing lineage and look what they did with it. Or didn’t do with it.

Every teenager’s secret destiny says, “I’m not going to be like that because I can feel the stars in my blood, I can feel the whole night sky, I am in touch with the mystery. And you may or may not have lived into it, and lived from it, and truly brought your greatness from this lineage into the world, but I’m not going to be like that. I know something. I haven’t turned my back on that knowledge.”

It’s an opening. It’s profound. It’s real. It’s not everything. It’s not the wisdom of experience, but it is the wisdom of the ancestors come alive again now made timely for this era; everything that we all have ever had the chance to be, brought forward in a new box of jewels, ready to take part in the turmoils of this world.

It is absolutely never too late for each of us to be a teenage know-it-all. We can keep the wisdom of our experience, but also not lose our access to the secret door that opens in each of us, from all that is ancient into now. We’re going to be going back again to look at where there are wounds, where there are closures, where there are places where we need to forget history as the definer of truth and ring the true note of our inherent nature again. We’ll have a chance to say, “Wait a minute, just because I lived through this, does that mean that’s how life is, or does that mean that’s what happened?” This question allows us to dare to re-opening the corridor of dreams so that the deep secrets held in the kidneys, the secrets of “who am I? What was I sent for? What is this life’s mission?” can be felt, heard, and silently manifest through the heart.

Take one more look, at least one more time, at your ‘Life of Deep Happiness’ essay, and just read over what you wrote about it. It’s not written in stone; keep that in mind. You can add things later on. You can add things for the rest of your life. It can, and should, and will change as more is revealed to you, about you.

For more about the Water element and the winter season, join Thea at her upcoming Pre-Solstice Winter retreat happing on December 6, 2020.

Do you have thoughts that you’d like to share? Join the conversation on the Perennial Medicine Listserv.

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