Understanding the physics of life: Combating Stress
If time is considered as one straight line connecting the darkness of the womb and the dark void of death, all positive experiences can be put one side of that line and all the negative ones on the other side. Time is a neutral entity and treats everyone the same. Life’s experiences may differ, but they cannot speed up or slow down time. Integrating all the happy moments, however short or long they may be, we can draw a positive curve above the neutral baseline along which time runs. Similarly, integrating all unhappy, stressful or worry filled moments, we can plot a negative curve below the baseline (as shown in the figure below). If we were to represent the aggregate of life’s experiences on a graph, it would look like one long sinusoidal wave.
Happiness that is associated with any experience in life is transitory since any given experience cannot be stretched indefinitely along the axis of time. Similarly, any unhappiness or stress that is the result of a life event also cannot go on forever. Time being the neutral baseline welcomes both the positive deflection of happiness and the negative deflection of unhappiness.
It is hard to stay neutral in both the waking state and for that matter even in the dream state. One thought or another will pull us towards thoughts that foster either happiness or sorrow. Happiness can be equated with relaxation. We cannot relax unless we are happy. On the contrary, unhappiness goes along with stress. Furthermore, stress and happiness are mutually exclusive. To get from a happy state to a stressful state of mind, we cross the neutral baseline and dip into the negative deflection of the “wave of life” and vice versa. We go through this phase of neutrality many times a day without even realizing it or pausing to explore that moment.
Any given experience in life, without our identification with it, is neither a generator of happiness nor unhappiness. It is the movement of our awareness, hence identification, towards or away from experiences is what creates the relativities of happiness or sorrow. Take wealth for example. As we gain wealth, we move away from the unhappy thought of poverty. This moving away from that thought is interpreted as happiness. Once we are established in that state of wealth, thoughts cannot stop moving. They may then move towards fear, of losing it all. This causes our awareness to shift towards the negativity associated with fear and the resulting stress that comes along with it.
What we consider happiness and unhappiness are in reality merely comparisons with the opposite state. Time being neutral has no comparison, it does not have an opposite, there is no “anti-time”. If we were to find a state of happiness that cannot be compared to an opposite state, in other words, it is not relative to a specific gain of something desirable or loss of something undesirable; such a state of happiness would be close to the neutral baseline of time. Stress cannot invade such happiness.
Now the question arises, how to achieve such happiness through which we can essentially eliminate stress from our lives? Happiness arising from a state of neutrality, since it is independent of the world and duality, cannot be obtained from extrinsic sources. Thoughts also fall into the realm of extrinsic sources as they are the chief mediators of positive and negative experiences. What lies beyond thought is the subjective self which can observe all these happenings. When we observe without attachment, reaction, or analysis we are close to docking with the subjective inner self. Stress is non-existent when we are the neutral, witnessing subjective self.
Time isn’t attached to our civilization, the civilizations of the past or those of the future which are yet to come. Similarly, the subjective self does not favor the past, present or the future. When there are no relativities that throw up comparisons, such as the past vs the present, present vs the possible future etc, life becomes stress-free. Since time moves regardless of what we do or don’t do, moving along with it rather than ahead of it (future) or behind it (past) helps keep us as neutral observers.
The subjective self is the “paper” on which the sinusoidal graph of life is drawn, while stress and negativity are merely dots on that “paper”. A paper can exist without lines or dots drawn on them, but lines and dots cannot exist with the paper. It is our choice whether we want to compress ourselves into dots of stress and negativity or expand ourselves into the paper on which graph of life is plotted.