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.