"After every happiness comes misery; they may be far apart or near. The more advanced the soul, the more quickly does one follow the other. What we want is neither happiness nor misery. Both make us forget our true nature; both are chains--one iron, one gold; behind both is the Atman, who knows neither happiness nor misery. These are states, and states must ever change; but the nature of the Atman (Soul, Spirit, Self) is bliss, peace, unchanging. We have not to get it, we have it; only wash away the dross and see it." Swami Vivekananda
Pain and pleasure are not real. This was a very difficult concept for me for many years. I feel pleasure, I feel pain. I cannot accept that they do not exist. No one wants misery but imagine not being happy - but that means being miserable - or a zombie. It took me a long time to understand that having neither misery nor happiness means being stable in mind. It means welcoming both joy and tragedy as passing circumstances. I need to welcome both knowing that these are emotions arising from the external that cannot last. Neither joy nor sadness lasts a lifetime. They pass just as time passes. Circumstances are not responsible for our emotions - our reactions are what causes us to feel. When we are not aware of this we allow memories and past experiences to dictate our full range of emotions - fear, anger, joy, greed, envy, satisfaction and any other you can think of. We forget that every incident will have unique results. Inspite of seeing different consequences we are often blinded by one strong memory and let it dictate our emotional response. It is possible to break this cycle. We can choose to remain in the moment and savor life experiences as unique events that will be enjoyed for themselves. We need to step out of 'instinctive' reactions into 'intuitive' ones. Joy comes from moving out of reactive responses to ones that are inspired by our inner being in the moment.
Harboring strong negative memories causes us to worry, complain and regret. Making a concerted effort at living in the moment changes the direction of our lives. For instance a child raised in poverty can choose to be afraid of lack even as an adult or choose to enjoy everything he does have and be compassionate towards those with less than him. An orphan can choose to be mistrustful of others and to be afraid of abandonment or revel in every relationship he has with the rest of the world. We can choose to be afraid of a broken relationship and remain single or use it as a learning experience and develop a better one. We must come out of the past and be in the present and relish every moment of our life. That defines a stable mind. Joy and misery are not about fate and destiny - they are just the way the world of duality operates and when we recognize this illusion bliss becomes possible.
The more we separate the more miserable we are. Building boundaries and walls and enclosing ourselves within these with the intent to protect what is 'mine' is the cause of strife between peoples. It is also the cause of strife within oneself. Separating Me from God causes innumerable varieties of fear. When I choose to treat my body and mind as the manifestation of the Spirit and identify myself as part of a larger Whole I necessarily become kind, compassionate and loving. My mind and body connect with all around me at a level that goes beyond the tangible differences. I cannot see the similarities but I can feel them. The visible differences then become a palette of colors that bring beauty and wonder to the world of duality. I must acknowledge that there are specific differences that can be identified in the physical realm - but this is something to celebrate and use as a pathway to venerate the capacity of our collective creative Soul. It is the proof that we are all One. We are all born and we all die and at both these moments we have nothing that we can identify with in this world. It is between these two periods in time that we develop an identity that is in reference to what is around us in the realm of tangibles - that is all. We came, we enjoyed and we will leave like guests at a worldwide party in one large open garden. Let us enjoy the party and share in everything there is to enjoy without building walls and causing strife. When it is time to leave, the garden will be left the way we found it when we arrived so those coming after us can enjoy its beauty too.
I want neither joy nor misery for it is not mine to have - they are just borrowed emotions that I let bathe my soul for a moment and then I let the same moment pat me dry so I can be in Bliss.