Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Practice of Happiness


The people were oblivious, but the venerable dog was well aware of me standing there, taking his pic.

I do believe that everything I need to get through even the most difficult moments is at hand, if only I will pay attention. For instance, at the end of a hideous summer of relentless heat and toxic air, when I'm kind of at the end of my rope physically and psychically, a friend will whisk me away, up to the mountains and the river as Rod did last week. Friends step up to the plate all the time when I need some help. I am very grateful.

Right now his excellency the Dalai Lama is sitting at the kitchen table here at the chateau, smiling calmly from the cover of the book The Art of Happiness. Instead of reading the book from cover to cover (as I suppose I should), I've been practicing the art of bibliomancy. When I feel like surfing (or scuba diving) in the ocean of wisdom, or am in need of a reminder about the preciousness of this existence, I open the book randomly and read whatever is right in front of my eyes. Last night I read about all the ways that we increase our own suffering. Oh my, yes, sometimes I work so diligently at that task. Ha. After a few minutes of reading, I was laughing at myself, all my antics and inner dramas ... melodramas, actually. Silly Reya. For heaven's sake.

What a revelation it is, that happiness, at least as defined by the D.L., isn't something that drops down from heaven. Just like compassion and mindfulness, happiness is a practice. Wow. So when I catch myself increasing my own suffering, the practice is to just stop, breathe, and return to the practice of happiness. I'm not talking about denying the state of suffering, but I don't have to crank it up or prolong it, do I? I like the idea of practicing happiness. It makes more sense to me than pursuing happiness. As you see I am really chewing on this.

Speaking of the way things come to me just when I need them (if I pay attention that is), here's a little bit of a teaching Pema Chodron posted on Facebook yesterday. Sublime. Love those Buddhists!! Oh yeah. Shalom.

I quote this so much, this Poem of Rick Fields, where he said:

Behind the hardness there is fear
And if you touch the heart of the fear
You find sadness (it sort of gets more and more tender)
And if you touch the sadness
You find the vast blue sky

This is what I am encouraging. The next time you feel yourself hooked, if you pause and you breathe with it, and you don't act out and you don't repress, but you think of this quote, and you think the ones who will create the new culture that is needed are those who are not afraid to be insecure. Whatever it is that you think at that moment, maybe this is what it feels like to be burning up the seeds that have caused all the pain on this earth.


All I can say is: Wow.

25 comments:

Barbara said...

That is a truly a vast blue sky that looks like it should be on a poster for finding Jesus! Finding happiness sounds closer to nirvana to me.

Reya Mellicker said...

Jesus still chases you around, doesn't he, Barbara, even after all these years you've been Jewish. He's a good guy, he is.

Barbara said...

I never doubted His goodness. It just isn't the panacea (for me at least) that a blue sky presents.

Val said...

thanks for the heads up - i also love that happiness is a practice not a gift;

Everton Terrace said...

With the talk of Jesus here in the comments, I looked back up at the sky photo and it looks like he is coming out of the clouds with his arms raised - that's what I saw anyway.

Reya Mellicker said...

I see it too, Everton!

Steve Reed said...

Wow. Such a beautiful entry! That last photo is truly amazing, and the words of Pema give me chills.

I practice bibliomancy sometimes, too. I'm sure the DL would be happy that you're reading, even if you skip around. The teachings are all still there!

Here's to happiness!

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

You last photo is spectacular and I get the first one... happiness.

I dislike being obtuse. Yesterday I read the Pema quote and understood all but the last line:

"And if you touch the sadness
You find the vast blue sky."

I suppose I need to be still & think about these few words.

Reya Mellicker said...

Cheryl I think that sitting with, being with the sadness brings healing, wholeness, and an awareness of the bigger picture. At least that's what I took away from it.

willow said...

I'm taking in a big, deep breath of vast blue sky. Ahhhh.

ellen abbott said...

That last picture is just phenomenal. So many things rising out of another. The cloud from the tree top, the shadow from the cloud, the rays of light from the shadow into the cloudy mist and blue sky. Nice.

Way back when things were falling apart, we went to a counselor and he addressed the topic of emotional outlook. Perhaps not phrased as elegantly as the DL would put it but he told us that emotions were a choice. That no one 'made' us feel any particular way. We choose how we want to feel, how we want to react and it was well within our ability to choose happiness. It changed our lives.

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Thanks Reya, your response gives me a better grasp.

Janelle said...

love that book...and indeed, god is truly coming in that piccie...! hah! beautiful. xxx j

Jo Floyd Lucas said...

A beautifully insightful post sandwiched between the perfect photographs! The first photo shows people in pursuit of practicing happiness, and the second one is the epitome of touching the sacred, 'vast blue sky.'

"...what it feels like to be burning up the seeds that have caused all the pain on this earth." Oh, we could have a real bonfire there, couldn't we? What a great mental image.

Thanks, Reya. We are all nourished by your regular offerings of some mighty food for thought!

Meri said...

Wanted to weigh in, but don't think I can add to the discussion with anything that hasn't been said. Glad you're better.

Nancy said...

Dear Reya, this is exactly what I needed to read today. It's been a bit of a blue one. Time to practice being happy. After some practice - it just gets easier and easier.

Dan Gurney said...

I just love the Rick Fields poem and the Pema teaching at the end of your post. I'll share it with my group tonight!

A vast, spacious, comforting and comfortable blueness floats us when we immerse ourselves in sadness and swim with, it within it.

I suppose that's why we call it "the blues."

Pauline said...

fabulous bottom photo! I especially liked this... "when I catch myself increasing my own suffering, the practice is to just stop, breathe, and return to the practice of happiness." As you say often, oh yeah!

Reya Mellicker said...

Oh yeah. Practice makes perfect?? Hmmm ...

Karen said...

Wow indeed... (beautiful ideas, words, photo)

After some of the stories I've heard today about people being selfish and mean, I'm ready to hear these words... There really are people trying to bring about good, trying to make a space for it in this world, right?

Butternut Squash said...

I love the photo, gorgeous. You know I never finished reading "The Art of Happiness." I was reading it in Nepal and a young woman, a Tibetan refugee, was admiring the cover of the book so much, that I gave it to her. She touched the book to her forehead when I gave it too her. It made me happy.

Reya Mellicker said...

Yes, Karen, YES. See Butternut Squash's comment if you have any doubts.

Butternut - you are so good. You really are. xx

simplycol.com said...

May I second that "Wow".

The Pollinatrix said...

YES! That poem exactly describes what has been happening within me.