Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Depths of Happiness

     There are many levels, qualities or depths of happiness, somewhat akin to the nutritional content of food: 
     • from scarfing down a chocolate bar alone resulting in quick sugar-high, after which you quickly crash & burn; 
     • to a memorable healthy, home-cooked feast, slowly, skillfully, lovingly prepared, and then celebrated & savored with loved ones.

     “Only a very few people alive today can make me smile just to think of them: the Dalai Lama is one and Huston Smith is another. And when I reflect on it, I realize that this is partly because both celebrated teachers are voracious in their pursuit of wisdom and able to push back their own assumptions in order to learn from everyone they meet; both radiate a calm and openness that can come only from an inner shrine that is unwavering. More deeply, with both of them the sense of wisdom is infectious because they are light in every way: alive with mischief and sparkle, unimpressed with themselves and ready to see, and bear out in their every action, that delight is as much a part of life’s adventure as is sober rumination.”
       Dana Sawyer “Huston Smith: Wisdomkeeper. Living the World’s Religions. The Authorized Biography of a 21st Century Spiritual Giant.” Fons Vitae, 2014. 

     "The most important factor in maintaining peace within oneself, in the face of any difficulty, is one's mental attitude. If it is distorted by such feelings as anger, attachment, or jealousy, then even the most comfortable environment will bring one no peace. On the other hand, if one's attitude is generally calm and gentle, then even a hostile environment will have little effect on one's own inner peace. Since the basic source of peace and happiness is one's own mental attitude, it is worthwhile adopting means to develop it in a positive way." Dalai Lama

      And now from a very smart fellow, but (who, like most of us) doesn't have the Dalai Lama's depth of practice, nor attainment:

     “… presentation of Buddhism as a way to be happy (is) basically knowtowing to a kind of Western hedonism. At least the impression is given that if you do this, if you practice Buddhism, somehow you become more happy. I think the word ‘happiness’ in that sense is insipid, almost banal. Yes, of course, we don’t seek to be unhappy, we seek in some broad sense to improve the quality of our lives, and we call that well-being or contentment or happiness. Again we are giving too much emphasis to personal affect... How can you really be happy if you are empathic, sensitized to the suffering of the world? … 
     I certainly do not practice (meditation) in order to be happy. I seek meaning, I seek purpose, I seek value, and I seek to find a way of being in this world in which its mystery, its tragedy, becomes more and more apparent, more transparent. The challenge of the practice in each moment really is to seek resources in oneself to respond to that. Whether of not it makes you happy is irrelevant.
     That’s why the training of meditation, etc., comes into play. It constantly returns you to a place within yourself where perhaps you are more able, because you have a certain stillness, a certain equanimity, a certain hope, to respond more truly, more caringly, more honestly, less selfishly. That’s what matters. At that point we go beyond Buddhism really. This is really about living the human life.” Stephen Batchelor
     Richard P. Boyle. “Realizing Awakened Consciousness. Interviews with Buddhist Teachers and a New Perspective on the Mind.” Columbia University Press, 2015.

     “When I was young I used to admire intelligent people. 
     As I grow older I admire kind people.”            Abraham J. Heschel

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