To Love Is To Be Happy With
These pages do not contain the words of a priest or a doctor, but the thoughts of one man becoming happier. As Option was given to me as a gift of love and I made it mine, absorbing, exploring and changing it, I give these ideas and this process to you. If it becomes yours, you too can pass it on!
This is a very private and personal book, although it might speak to a voice in each and every one of us. The words describe a journey … for me, a loving evolution out of the quicksand of unhappy beliefs.
The option process is not so much a tool or formula technique as it is an attitude and a developing process of seeing. There is only one truth, although there are many paths leading to it.
Then why the Option Process and why this book? There have been many renowned and lofty disciplines recorded through the ages. We have, more recently, been generously exposed to the beautiful and wondrous visions from the East. Yet, these avenues often appear foreign and unattainable to us.
Option, in contrast, takes the truths of Christ and Buddha, of Socrates, of Sartre and Kierkegaard, of contemporary psychology and philosophy, and puts them into the language of our everyday tongue. Ironically, there are those who would choose to dismiss it because it is not couched in elaborate jargon or cloaked in mystery. Perhaps, this is its distinctive beauty and virtue. There are others who want to define the Option Process as a therapy or education technique … to pin it down, compare, debate and squeeze it into an “acceptable” category. But somehow, Option is more cosmic than the sum of its parts … more than just a philosophy, a therapy, a method and a dialogue technique.
It is a vision for living, a powerful and effective alternative, born out of the attitude: To love is to be happy with … an accepting and loving embrace of ourselves and those around us. It is an evolving awareness that “I love you by being happy with you” (accepting and allowing of who you are and what you are) and “I love me by being happy with me” (accepting and allowing of who I am and what I am). Nevertheless, I might still want other things for both of us. Yet in loving you as you are, I would not judge you or need you to conform to my expectations or ideals.
For those of us who can or will just choose happiness and let it flow there is no method. But for me and perhaps others who have been or are currently burdened with discomforts, however large or small, the Option Process is an enlightening perspective from which to view our beliefs, so that a new calm and clarity unfolds … a new lucidity that enables us to make unprecedented choices for ourselves and to recreate our lives to whatever extent we want.
Each of us finds our own doorway. In that pursuit, each of us becomes capable of creating our own process. The mechanics are but the bare skeletons into which we breathe life. There is a designed procedure of questioning and a method for becoming happier outlined in this book, but its significance and effectiveness lies not simply in words or questions. Its meaning is derived from our tone and our attitude.
In many ways, the acquisition of the attitude is the method. From there, we can give birth to a new self and rechoose. The real knowing lies only within each of us, not on the pages of a book.
If we give it time, the process becomes part of us. As we move toward knowing ourselves, we can more easily embrace our lives. Rather than remain strangers and caretakers of someone else’s universe, we become creators of our own.
Our culture demands immediate gratification as it casually pollutes us and our environment. Its spokesmen scream for instant answers with precise and well-defined rules. This is not that kind of book … not that kind of process. Nor does it present “unfathomable enigmas” too difficult to penetrate, reserved only for the ears of experts. Option is a turning, a redirecting and a patient flow … in character it is possibly more of the East than the West. This book of the Option Process is meant as a companion for a very beautiful journey … not to be consumed in a one-night or two-night reading, but to be touched, embraced, explored and savored as we would a lover over an extended period of time.
Though I had found meditation and spiritual pursuits to be profound and couch-and-confrontation therapy to be helpful, Option provided me with the first clear and total vision of myself and my life – not from an alien and remote perspective, but in a voice I understood, a voice which was conspicuously my own.
And this was only a beginning, a blueprint that enabled me to allow my world to become a growing arena of endless possibilities … where loving and caring, healing and helping, and even psychic experiences are part of the landscape.
The words, the questions and the dialogues of the Process, which are at times exceedingly rational and precise, provide a pathway through our exceedingly rational and precise unhappiness. A dear friend once wrote: “I feel something in your presence or voice or perhaps the extraordinary work you’ve done with your son that goes far beyond Option. Whatever the tools by which you reached the place you inhabit, you, personally, have taken them far beyond what you’ve learned.” Perhaps, yet it was those tools, the Option dialogues and Option questions, which provided me and continue to provide me with a basis from which I continually recreate and reform my style of living and loving.
As I became happier, as the confusion began to disappear and as I dispensed with much of my unhappiness, a new energy developed. In permitting myself to pursue my wants and in being more accepting, more allowing and less judgmental, I found there was so much more for me to see and do for myself and those I loved.
Often when we look for what we expect or need to see, we miss all the other flowers in our garden. Does the loudest voice move us, or the clearest? It’s our choice. The option process is a very personal evolution.
It is not a question of how much we don’t know, but a discovery of how much we do know.
If someone makes a statement and I reply, “Wow, that’s really so,” that illumination is not the result of their profundity, but is my confirmation to myself of my own realization. The best someone else can do is tap my awareness of what I already know.
At first, aspects of the Option Process seemed as amazing and perplexing as the concept of “the sound of one hand clapping.” Essentially, there was nothing to do to be happy – – but to remove the unhappiness and let go of the self-defeating beliefs that short-circuited my flow. It almost appeared too easy, too permissive, too soft – not concrete enough. There was no one telling me what to do or adding to the already overwhelming mountain of “shoulds” and “have tos.” I was at the throttle, giving myself new opportunities to unpack a lifetime of self-destructive beliefs. As I continued to explore and unearth them, I found many which I immediately and decisively chose to discard.
The concepts and ideas of Option came through to me with such clarity and substance that they required no support other than my own acknowledgment. There was no directing expert who asserted his vision and authority by reasons of credentials, age or money. The meaning and truth transcends the voice and personality of the teacher who transmits it. Ultimately, the prominent voice we learn to respect is our own.
After all the years of confusion and distrust, I found myself learning to love the experience of my own music and to trust the direction of my own inclinations.
The lessons of the Option Process enabled me to change what appeared to be immovable and permanent …and most specifically, to do as a matter of course and wanting many things others, most of whom were “experts,” had claimed to be impossible.
In giving the gift of ourselves back to ourselves, in affirming and trusting who we are, we uncover a universe that can never be contained within the pages of a book. What can be communicated here is the path we can walk to get there as well as a taste of the beauty and excitement that awaits us.
As Option remains for me a most beautiful gift, I find myself wanting to share it with others … not as a panacea, not as a challenge, not as a life-style to flaunt, not as the way all of us “should” travel – but as a tool with which I and many others have been able to create personal worlds devoid of the expectations, conditions and judgments that create unhappiness. The result is a mellow and loving environment pregnant with enriching experiences. And even though, on occasion, I might make myself irritable or uncomfortable, I welcome that as a new opportunity to re-explore my beliefs and reaffirm the Option alternative.
One warm summer afternoon, as we strolled hand-in-hand, my nine-year-old daughter quite simply announced, “Daddy, I want to love everyone in the world who wants to be loved.” And I want to write these words about the Option Process for everyone in the world who wants to read them. If this book reaches just one other person and really touches them, then it has helped to create new life and bears the fruit of love. It is said that to have really loved one person is to have loved the whole world.
— Barry Neil Kaufman
— New York, 1977