Michael Mendizza

Writer, Filmmaker

Being Happy In A Sad World


Parenting, Playful Advice

All the things we won’t be able to share

Becoming a father again late, meant that I might bring greater experience and perhaps a trace of wisdom to the most important challenge anyone will face, helping the next generation meet their unknown future with transcendent resilience, a light heart, deep sense of purpose, empathy and beauty. Even in the face of global extinction.

Understanding that each age and stage of development opens to and developes different capacities, it became obvious that some qualities can be modeled and shared at any age. Others must wait. Early in my relationship with Carly Elizabeth the simple fact that I may not be around when that time in her life comes, loomed like Everest.

Rare does a parent-child relationship create the space to share the most fundamental questions; What does being human mean? Is love the opposite of hate?  Are comparison and jealously necessary? Why are human beings so violent? What is the difference between schooling and learning? Why are so many people physically ill?  Earning a livelihood? Creativity? Passion? Pleasure? Pain? Addiction? Marriage? Having children? Freedom? Social justice? Money? Corruption? You get the idea

To meet this challenge, at least partially, and being inspired by Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, no comparison implied, I began writing my part of a conversation that Carly and I may never have, and will continue as long as it feels appropriate.

Some may recall how I wrote notes to myself every two weeks describing what I learned being with Carly our first two years, later published as Playful Wisdom. That collection was also intended to be part of the conversation she and I may never have.

None of these or future musings are intended to be ‘lessons’ for Carly, for as Gibran describes:

     Your children are not your children.
     They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
     They come through you but not from you,
     And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

     You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
     For they have their own thoughts.
     You may house their bodies but not their souls,
     For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.

Below is the first.


Carly, Friday, August 11, 2021
Being Happy in a Sad World

Thoughts may be filled with injustice
The oceans are turning grey
Plastic and poisons everywhere
Another species disappears, and another
The ultra-rich vs. millions of homeless
Propaganda, hypocrisy and corruption
Bombings, racism and rape
You can’t run away from it
All the ‘news’ is bad

We might consider that a world awash in bad news
Is an induced, now normalized, state of psychosis
Where people have difficulty distinguishing what is real

Remembering what would be considered healthy, balanced and sane
A particular state of mind created these depressing mental phantoms
And the same state created the events our bad news report

Krishnamurti often said;

‘We think the problem is out there, in the world
The problem isn’t out there
The problem is really inward
and we are unwilling to face this.’

So it goes on…

Montagu quote Egyptian scribe….150 BC, describing how all the news is bad.

Large letters on the wall of a friend’s church read
‘Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind’
A problem can’t be solved at the level of the problem
The state that created the mess is incapable of cleaning it up
There must be a change at the root

The Navajo Nation has a prayer, ‘Walk in Beauty’
Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you want to see’
The global human brain is a runaway train
Amplified and unified by technology
Today everyone shares a common state
And that state is the real problem

When the jet plane is falling, follow the instructions
Place your oxygen mask on first
Stop identifying with the train

The runway train is the habitual nature of our thoughts
Ever-changing content is but a superficial symptom
And this habit implies identification
Identity is the enchantment, the spell that changes everything
Identifying inside, comparison, creates the image called me
Outside, identifying projects the same process as culture
Being identified, enchanted, we miss a simple fact
The inner and the outer are basically the same
Viewed differently

Imagine having thoughts that are completely free from personal identification
ought unfolds with the skill, clarity and precision of a scientist or artist
This, of course, implies mastery of the process, something precious few even realize is possible
The process itself then, like a well-made tool, functions and expresses its inherent precision
Without identifying, without creating a image of me as an artist or scientist

Identification creates the personal image and collectively culture
The same thought without identification is just a thought
Like reading a recipe or instructions for changing a tire
Without identification the social image of me, compared and judged, disappears
And with that, culture loses its power to control us with that image
There is nothing to compare
No psychological shame, rejection, humiliation, or status 

The runway train speeding towards the sixth great extinction
Is recreated and sustained by our near universal identification with beliefs and concepts
What we imagine about ourselves inside, and outside as culture
Seeing the trick we are playing on ourselves
Falsely identifying with our mental images
Stops the self-deception that creates the train

Then comes the challenge of using thought and imagination as a precise tool
Rather than a compulsive, reflexive habit dragging us around by our nose
For this there needs to be a shift in the default state of the mind
Where thought is used when needed and fades into sensitive, silent awareness when not

In that instant, these two qualities of mind active
Like turning on the lights in a dark room
Something completely new begins
The train vanishes, at least our train
We are no longer on the crashing jet plane
The prison bars we create identifying with culture disappear
The world and the landscape of our mind looks and feels different
Observing with childlike innocence creation’s beauty reveals itself again

‘I am in everything and everything is in me,’ Krishnamurti once described.
That instant, without a single thought getting in the way
Your mind illuminated, quiet, yet explosively sensitive and awake
Free from the enchantment of identification
You find yourself surrounded in beauty

In this new reality beauty informs what to do next
Beauty, that living, moving creation called life, not another concept, guides you
Shows you how to act in ways that honor, protect and preserve beauty
Suddenly, without effort, you are the change you hope to see

Is this little, personal awakening enough to stop the larger train wreck?
Maybe, or maybe not?

The murderous delusion of a me on a speeding train
Is transformed into unbearable compassion for yourself, others
And for all the species irreparably harmed by this enchantment

How could we be so stupid, and for so many centuries?
David Bohm observed, concealment is the major defense for enchantment
For the spell to be effective, we must conceal the spell from ourself
Two hidden mental processes conspire
To create the enchantment and sustain it
Identification and its twin, reification
The tacit assumption that abstract mental images have tangible, independent reality

To identify there must be something real, tangible to do the identifying
Classically, there must be an observer who observes
Identification implies that observer
Not identifying negates the me who identifies
And the false assumption that nationalism, for example, is a real ‘thing’
Both reification and identification are mental tricks that operate
Below conscious awareness, which quite effectively conceal their deceptions
But now, the trick is revealed

There is a state, and an implicit new reality
That is free from the deceptions created by reification and from identification

The light of this new understanding radiates like a flame in a dark cave
Awakening and lighting the same flame in others, especially children
Expanding, exploding around the world
And destiny changes

Life has been renewing, reincarnating for billions of years
With this new insight our reality is more than half full again
If you can be transformed by the changing of your mind
So can the world

I asked Ashley Montagu, author of fifty books
If he was optimistic about the future of humanity
“Michael, my boy,” he replied, “the only sane position for a pessimist is optimism”
Joseph Chilton Pearce takes this a profound step further
“A change in world view changes the world viewed”

By ‘change’ Joe was describing a force much deeper than a new idea or concept
Change to Pearce meant a change at the deepest levels of the brain-mind
Where reality itself is formed
At this core level there exists a balanced and reciprocal dynamic between
Our reality inside and how the physical world is organized outside
Quantum physics proclaims “the observer is the observed”
“A change in world view literally changes the world viewed”

There is, indeed, reason to be happy in a sad world

When asked how he could maintain his light heart and laughter
In the face of cultural genocide the Dalai Lama replied

“Happiness is my profession”

We have no choice
Happiness, blended with lucid, empathic clarity
Unfettered by identification, is a matter of survival
A moral imperative, especially as a model of optimum experience for children
This fully interrogated state represents the next essential leap forward in the evolution of humanity

Anything less simply adds fuel to the habit that creates the speeding train