I have come to the conclusion that one can know all there is to know about something, an ideal, belief, or guideline of living, but this intellect on the matter means nothing until it is fully realized. In my own life for example, I can learn all there is to know about living in the present moment. I can know what it feels like, the steps you have to take to get there, and how to keep yourself there, but until this concept comes to me through realization, through a moment in time in which it makes absolute sense, without the need of intellect, the knowledge gained is in a sense quite useless.
Knowledge of such matters helps a great deal, but knowledge can only get you so far. My knowledge of how to live a peaceful life allows me to become more and more aware of my thoughts, actions and emotions. It allows me to step outside of the madness of the mind and be in somewhat control of my true self, keep me in check if you will, but until the realization of peace is found that peace will not be lived.
I’m not trying to sound pessimistic here but the acknowledged difference between understanding and realization actually helps to ease my frustration as I continue over and over again to think I have certain aspects of my life all figured out only to have it all thrown up in smoke. There is no reason to beat myself up over a matter because I believe I know all there is to know yet continue to feel stuck, because I know that realization is the only way to overcome a barrier of the mind which only happens through the Grace of God.
I bring up this matter because of some recent accounts I read in a book on the Dalai Lama. I read about some Tibetian monks who were kept captive by the Chinese and put through horrendous experiences, but despite all they were going through they somehow remained at peace without bitterness or hatred. They did this by simply forgiving the Chinese for what they were doing and actually having compassion for them. By not blaming the wrongdoers but forgiving them, they rid themselves of the hatred that if consumed would drive them mad within the walls of their cells. In the most horrible of circumstances, the monks chose peace, they chose happiness.
I’ve heard many times that it is possible to choose happiness no matter what circumstances we are in. I understood it intellectually but it was never really realized. After reading about these monks and then meditating on the subject, I suddenly came to a mini realization concerning the possibilities of choosing happiness. I pondered that if one can choose peace in the midst of torture then it really is possible. One must fully accept wholeheartedly the situation, rid themselves of any bitterness and then let the peace reside. The acceptance cannot be understood and you can’t be aware of the bitterness, you must realize the acceptance and the absence of negativity and then realize the peace and happiness that remains.
My realization was that I can choose happiness, something I understood before but never realized. Now have I realized the actual presence of happiness and a complete absence of bitterness? I doubt it, but I feel quite close.