So many people seek permanent happiness and think that following a spiritual path will eliminate all suffering.
I can’t really adhere to the concept of happiness as a constant reality. Life is full of ups and downs and everything goes in circles. As a matter of fact, how will you know you are happy if happiness is the only thing you experience? What will you have to compare happiness to?
To me happiness appears in brief moments; smelling the fragrance of a beautiful flower, admiring the sunset, a warm hug from a beloved person, the thought of something that makes your heart melt. How long can this sensation last? Minutes, hours, days? Maybe so but can it last for months on end?
We are looking for miraculous solutions that will make the “pain” go away. We are looking for a magic wand, a magic potion, a “magic” practice that will make whatever hurts go away.
What we forget is that a suffering is a part of life. It is an agent of growth. It is what propels us to transcend our human selves and come a little closer to our divine nature.
I think we have to accept that. Ever since man was “evicted from the garden of Eden”*, we have been “condemned” to “eternal suffering”.
Now, what can make a huge difference with our quality of life is how we deal with suffering. I’m sure that some enlightened beings have achieved the necessary detachment and maybe don’t ever suffer but, for the rest of us, acceptance is key. Acceptance is what precedes equanimity which, in turn, precedes detachment.
To me what is important for a “happy” life is equanimity. It is stoically accepting the ups and downs of life with a touch of healthy detachment.
Since I believe that a state of constant happiness is unattainable for the majority of mortals, I aim at inner peace which, by the way, is another very difficult state to attain.
My daily practice, among other things, that helps me remain at peace with myself and with the world around me, at least for some of the time, is the practice of gratitude.
No matter what catastrophe you might be experiencing, I’m sure there is something in your life that you can be grateful for. You can see. You can get out of bed. And if you can’t, there are people taking care of you. You are loved by God/the universe/creation, whatever you may call it. You have a roof over your head. The list can go on and on…
Don’t get me wrong! The practice of gratitude doesn’t mean that you have to deny your own feelings. You can be angry or frustrated with one thing and grateful for another! Who told you that you can’t feel frustrated with your boss and, at the same time, grateful you have a job that can feed your children? Who said that so called “positive” and “negative” feeling are mutually exclusive? Why can’t they coexist?
What will you do?
The choice is yours!
*The eviction from the garden of Eden to me is a metaphor; it is an image that depicts creation itself wanting to experience a wide range of emotions and situations so as to deepen the love and the understanding