100 Gallons of Happiness or 75 Pounds of Peace

February 26, 2019

By Ward Allan Yont

I begin each new workshop series in the same way. On the left side of the board, I write down the things I wanted most in life, prior to my incarceration. “Drugs” and “Money.” Now I ask my students to shout out their “wants” in life, and not to hold anything back.
“Sex!” The left side of the board.
“Respect!” The left side of the board.
“Freedom!” From prison. The left side of the board.
“Freedom!” From Addiction. The right side of the board.
“Happiness!” Right side.
“Family!” To be with physically. Left side.
“Family!” To have a relationship with. Right side.
“Peace!” Good! Right side.
“Financial success!” Well, money’s already up there on the left, but I’ll put a counterpart  on the right — ”Purpose and Prosperity.”
Another duo: “Control” (left) and “Influence” (right).
“Knowledge” goes on the right, and its counterpart, “Perception” on the left.
So, on the left side of the board we have:           and on the right, we have:
Drugs                                                                          Peace
Money                                                                        Purpose
Sex                                                                              Prosperity
Family                                                                         Happiness
Physical Freedom                                                     Relationships
Control                                                                       Liberation
Perception                                                                 Influence
Fear                                                                             Knowledge
                                                                                     Love
Then I ask everyone to look at the columns and tell me what the main differences are between the two.
It would appear that the items in the left column are tangible. Those on the right sound vague and ambiguous — more illusive, less real. You can’t quantify your happiness by asserting that you’ve got 100 gallons of happiness or 75 pounds of peace. But then I point out that the only reason we want the things on the left is to get the things on the right! Doesn’t that make the things on the right suddenly seem much more important and valuable, even more tangible?
If you’ll recall, I’ve already made several references not only to the illusory nature of time but its inextricable connection to our perception of the outer world. This means that our perception of the outer world is illusory as well. This doesn’t mean that the tangible things around us aren’t real. They are. But the illusions are created by the value we place on these things. These are our “misperceptions;” they create illusions.
Hopefully, through this exercise, we come to realize that the things on the right side of the board are the most valuable. They are the “higher mind items,” inner virtues that are spiritual in nature. These are all connected with love. The left side or outer world side of that board falls under the purview of the “lower mind,” the desires of the ego and the body.

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