By Dalton Roberts
Don't read Carlos Castaneda unless you want to be slapped around by little Mighty Mouse truths that leap out at you from his pages.
You will seldom understand one the first time it hits you. Then you'll think, "Yeah, I think I understand that." Then about the third time it will come alive like a neon sign in your mind that you can't turn off for days. The longer it flashes, the more you see in the words.
My most recent encounter with one of his Mighty Mouse sentences came with this statement: "We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same."
A person trying to be helpful once sternly said to me, "If you ever amount to a hill of beans, you must grab yourself by your own bootstraps and pull with all your might." It didn't take a Mighty Mouse to prove to me that this is the wrong way to go. You can pull on your bootstraps forever, and all you'll get is tired. You won't move an inch.
The simple but shocking truth from Castaneda is that it takes the exact same amount of energy and time to become miserable or strong. We become strong and happy by the mindful use of our energy and time. We become miserable in the same way. The big difference is that it is seldom a "mindful" use of our energy that makes us miserable. It is more robotic than mindful. But it is an exact amount of energy in both cases. We daily spend a certain amount of energy and time in being miserable or happy.
We quickly become reactive beings in this life. Our reactions are installed in us by people we fear or love with little question. Some are installed by our own worst experiences. Rarely do we take the time to digest and understand our own experiences before we install them as automatic reaction patterns. Ted Bundy was rejected by a girl who parted her hair in the middle and then went out and killed dozens who looked like her.
Today you and I will spend the same amount of time and energy being miserable of being happy. All it takes to realize that is to become mindful -- to simply pull it up on the screen of our awareness now and then. I really like my earlier allusion to installing it as a flashing neon sign in our minds. Only as we fully realize this gorgeous truth can we fully use it.
We all have life teachers, and the best ones are often those who shock us awake. One of my best ones told me, "Life is more about unlearning than about learning because you must unlearn what you are doing wrong before you can learn something that works for you." In the case of Castenada's truth, we must unlearn old reactive responses and simply become mindful.
The good news is that it is indeed simple to become mindful. It just means three things: One is to watch your mind at work at all times and ask it questions, two is to tell it where you want to put your time and energy, and three is to make clear decisions to do that.
Always remember the amount of work is the same.
E-mail Dalton Roberts at DownhomeP@aol.com.