Most people experience trauma and everyone suffers. In Man’s Search For Meaning, Frankl explained that suffering is like gas in that it fills the entire container, regardless of the size. Suffering impacts all individuals regardless of social statuses. People often search for ways of ending their suffering. For some people, simply decreasing suffering by getting basic needs met is the goal. They seek consistency in their access to food, housing, and physical safety. While some find moments of happiness, many of these individuals spend their time seeking happiness that does not arrive.
For individuals with more socioeconomic privilege, the end of suffering is often equated to the acquisition of material goods. They endlessly seek to purchase things that they believe will make them happy, only to find that once purchased the item loses its value and happiness is directed elsewhere. They seek to find better relationships with friends, family members, and romantic patterns, but sometimes have difficulty breaking rigid thoughts and feelings about themselves and others, and also have to balance those stressors with the anxiety of employment. Many people caught in this cycle find themselves stuck in a place of unhappiness.
Other individuals seek to alleviate suffering through spirituality. They learn to sit quietly in meditation and develop a peaceful stillness that helps their body and mind relax. However, these individuals also find themselves unable to carry their meditation lessons with them throughout the day. It’s as if once they’ve ended their meditation their calm state of serenity disappears as they get caught up in the whirlwind of daily living. They continue to grapple with the application of their spiritual beliefs to their relationships with others. Many of these people also find themselves stuck in a place of unhappiness.
In each anecdote, people are placing happiness as something external to themselves and are skipping levels.
The first group is concerned with basic physical wellbeing, the second is concerned with mental and emotional challenges, and the third is concerned with spiritual wellbeing. All three have yet to deal with the root.
Happiness is not something outside of yourself. You always already have access to the happiness you seek. How do you find it? Access your presence.
All levels of the mind, body, and spirit need to be aligned to progress. If your basic needs are not met, you cannot focus on the needs of your egoic need to acquire fame, you simply don’t have the resources. If your physical needs are met, you may struggle with mental and emotional challenges. If your physical needs are met and you focus exclusively on spiritual means, you are leaving your mind and emotions to the side, and they will continue to disrupt your practice.
Each level of the mind, body, and spirit need to be addressed in order for there to be complete transformation and happiness.