Ask the Swami: November 2009

November 2, 2009

Steve Bhaerman

Where Swami answers your questions, and you will question his answers.
by Swami Beyondananda

Dear Swami,

You know how there’s this metabolic “set-point” which governs our body weight—and slows our weight loss when we’re dieting? Well, now I hear that each of us has an “emotional set-point” which determines our level of happiness. According to this theory, no matter how good things get, we’re genetically programmed to be at a certain level of happiness, and no happier. As someone who has always been somewhat grouchy and uptight, I have been motivated to take personal growth workshops in hopes of getting an attitude adjustment. But if this theory is true, then I’m wasting my time. Help me out, Swami. Is there any hope for tinkering with my happiness set-point? Or am I doomed to spend the rest of my days a grumpy tight-ass?

—Doug Garnett,
Towson, Maryland

Dear Doug,

Well, I have some bad news and some good news. The bad news is, there is indeed an emotional set-point that determines one’s level of happiness. And there’s more bad news: Cognitive therapy and personal growth workshops will not appreciably change this set-point. However, there is a glimmer of hope. Apparently this emotional set point can be altered surgically. There is an experimental procedure where they go in through your navel, loosen it a couple of turns—and you become less of a tight-ass.

Dear Swami,

As someone born and raised in a Third World nation, I find Westerners who now embrace environmentalism to be disingenuous. After exploiting world resources and native peoples for the past 500 years or so, you suddenly realize that it is time to clean up the mess—and you do so at the expense of those who have not yet had their chance at wealth. I resent, for example, being told I cannot cut down the rainforest—after you have already been doing it for generations. You have had your turn to accumulate wealth, so why deny us our turn? After centuries of exploitation, now you decide it’s time to “save the world.” Sorry, but you are too late.

—Hugh Calyptus,
Kingston, Jamaica

Dear Hugh,

It is certainly true that we industrial societies use 10 times the natural resources as our Third World counterparts. But before we simplistically assume that what’s good for the goose is good for Uganda, let’s think about it. Now I can certainly understand the impulse to say, “Hey, wait a minute. You guys have a 500-year jump on us. We haven’t had our chance to mess things up yet! It’s not fair!“ Well, who says life is fair? I’m sorry to report that if you want to mess things up, you’re simply too late. We’ve already done it. We imperialist, industrialist nations are the undisputed champions of soil-depleting agriculture, overuse of resources and production of toxic waste. Now sure, some of you Ghana-come-lately’s are making great strides toward environmental destruction, but no matter how much you plunder or waste, you’re never really going to catch up, and you’ll never get full credit for it. People (if there are any of us left) will simply say that you were just copying us. And all of your wastefulness will be for naught.

But do not despair. Third World countries have much to teach the rest of us about flowing with nature instead of trying to conquer it. If you can help industrialized nations go with the current instead of clinging to the past or forcing the future, you will have made a contribution far more important than industrialization. Now, maybe it is too late to save the world—but we can certainly all benefit by spending it more wisely.

Dear Swami,

I have a metaphysical question for you. I understand there is a higher state where our auric energy field actually disappears. Is there really such a state? And if so, how do I get there?

—Moe Nastick,
Mt. Shasta, California

Dear Moe,

Since I never metaphysical question I didn’t like, I will be happy to answer you. Indeed, there is such a higher state (higher even than California), and it is particularly easy to get there from Mt. Shasta. Just head north on Interstate 5. The very next state you enter will be Auragone.

© Copyright 2009 by Steve Bhaerman.