well-being & being well


Agnes Martin - Gratitude, 2001


There’s a mindset that runs a mythical story asserting that one’s “accomplishment” of awakening, and the attendant ease of well-being, is negated or compromised by any experience of being unwell. Beware of these myths!

Awakening is never “accomplished” or attained. It is simply a system-restore to the Natural State.

The Natural State – I call it wild wideawakeness – has no preference whatsoever for what might be being experienced by the body or the mind. It remains the essential experience, enabling and infusing all others. Its impartiality – and re-cognition of this – is what dissolves suffering and enables well-being – regardless of the passing play of one’s life.

Well-being does not depend upon being well.

It’s true that the more unshakeable one’s well-being, the more sensitive the organism becomes, bringing understanding and prompting changes that may lead to less physical and mental dysfunction. But well-being remains unaffected. Period.

I have been with frail, aged folk in heart-wrenching discomfort and pain and fully aware of the approach of their end days, who were aglow with well-being.

I have been with a close friend when she received a diagnosis that would strike terror into the heart of most people; she exuded such well-being that her surgeons and friends were at once amazed and relieved. (She has now fully recovered.)

I have been with myself during debilitating illness, pain, grief. At these times the litmus test for the extent of my freedom is a little inquiry: am I suffering?

And I have to say no; I can no longer find a solid-state ‘person’ here who could own a story about suffering.

If there is illness, no problem – I’ll seek help, I’ll take the medicine, but I won’t suffer.

Well-being is unaffected.
Well-being is the Natural State.
The Natural State is what one is.

Because the Natural State is ever-present and inescapable, accepting the entire array of experience without question, I’ve come to know it as Love. Love Divine. 

Whatever you call it – God, Divine Presence, Love, Suchness, The Great Perfection, Beloved – you are naming yourself and the entirety of your experience.

Along with everyone and everything else…


Painting by Agnes Martin, Gratitude, 2001. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery, London.

12 thoughts on “well-being & being well

  1. Very good! Not ‘person’ or ‘personality’, but freedom from all labels (‘name and form’ in advaita), and concepts only as conventional sign posts – nothing else. Long time ago I wrote a short article for a Canadian magazine for and by doctors (have it in my PC) with the title: ‘What do we mean by health?’ The article centered on ‘eudaimonia’, a concept I took from Aristotle which is best translated as ‘well-being’. I did not need any other inspiration or source of information – for me that was, and is, the definition of ‘health’, just as you describe.

    1. Thank you my dear friend. It’s great to have feedback from a ‘medical’ man, especially one with your depth of timeless wisdom from both East and West.

      Eudaimonia. What a delicious word. I looked it up on Wikipedia, where they also propose the translation “human flourishing”. Isn’t that beautiful?

  2. GREAT write and THANK YOU! This idea of suffering is what I have been pondering intensely this morning. I have a story of suffering and there is no cause of it…it just feels like suffering so The “me” is still here acting like it is suffering…What is this me other than a thought anyway? yet suffering still seems to be. The “me” keeps looking for “something” to suffer about. The “me” keeps wanting to be a me.

    1. Oh, you’re onto it aren’t you! That little “me” is synonymous with suffering – anything to avoid what it imagines to be its demise. If only it could face that demise head on… and it will. Your head is in the tiger’s mouth. No way out. Bravo!

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