Monday Morning Greetings 2021 #38 – It’s the Consciousness, Stupid

September 20th, 2021

Thinking about happiness again. Isn’t that what’s on most people’s minds? For me, at least today, I thought about it more in terms of a philosophical inquiry than as a personal issue. And the first thing about the subject that strongly came to my mind is that happiness ultimately comes down to consciousness. That thought inspired me to write about happiness in terms of consciousness under the heading “It’s the Consciousness, Stupid”. It’s a good title, because although it should be obvious that happiness ultimately resides in the mind, we repeatedly hanker and search for more stuff in the pursuit of fulfillment, including position and prestige. I will begin by writing two entries on this subject today, beginning with the incident that inspired me to write about this in the first place.


Theodicy and It’s the Consciousness, Stupid


The thirty-year-old son of someone I knew in India died unexpectedly. The father was heartbroken, but due to his stature in learning he could still be reasonably philosophical. After pouring his heart out about the death of his son and the pain that he and the child’s mother felt, he shared the following verse:


“No one knows, O Lord, what is the intention behind Your actions, which cause great confusion to mankind. We know You to hold no one in favor or disfavor, the appearance of partiality in You is a false belief of mankind.” (Bhag. 1.8.29)


Another friend reading his post texted me:


“This verse?
Intrigues me.
Your meditations on it?”


An edited transcription of my response:


This is the way I think we should meditate on it: I think the main difficulty in understanding tragedy in relation to God is that we tend to judge whether someone is merciful only in terms of the facility they give us to control and enjoy the world. Therefore, when the world moves against our control and consequent enjoyment, we tend to think that God, the controller of the world, is not merciful. I think the vantage point of the Absolute Truth is quite different. He doesn’t see mercy in terms of giving us power and more enjoyment, but in terms of positively changing our consciousness, which often requires circumstances that do not conform to our attachments and thus cause us to suffer. Karma, even when it is tragic, is still God’s mercy, because karma is the creation of circumstances, often very challenging, to teach us things that we were incapable of learning by just hearing philosophy or by getting good advice. Of course, such trying circumstances are often very difficult to understand, especially at the time they are happening. If, however, we live a life of dharma, we may be blessed with the vision to clearly see how everything that happened to us, especially our trials and tribulations, did in fact elevate our consciousness. If you still have a problem understanding that circumstances need to be challenging to change us, just meditate on someone you desperately want to change, or even someone you just can’t stand. Now, ponder what it would take to elevate that person’s consciousness to a state of contentment and complete selflessness. Would it be your words of wisdom or would God have to teach them some life lessons? Is it possible they would need some challenges or even trauma to make the seismic change in them that you perceive is needed? And while thinking about that we can also think what God would have to do to change us. I think you get the idea. So those are my thoughts.


Of course, these issues can go deeper and raise other questions, but I am convinced that if we ever hope to reconcile the tragedies in this world with the concept of an omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent being, we first need to shift our concept of seeing mercy from giving one the ability to control and enjoy to helping one elevate their consciousness.


Purpose in Life: It’s the Consciousness, Stupid


Another thought on consciousness: It is not stuff that gives meaning to life. This should be evident in the lives of the rich and famous, many of whom seem lost. Contrast that with the lives of the very simple and pious, many of whom have found deep meaning and purpose by living in a place where their simple contribution is valued by their family and community.


So, yes, it’s the consciousness stupid, and I still have to remind myself of that every day.




“…the most radical question which anyone can be asked is not how much their possessions cost, but whether they have found something of value – that is, something that makes living worthwhile.”


―Alister E. McGrath, Northern Irish theologian, scientist, and public intellectual





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