True and lasting happiness

posted Jun 5, 2011, 6:03 PM by ash ‎(evermindful)‎   [ updated Jun 5, 2011, 6:08 PM ]
It’s been a long time since I’ve last posted. Where have I been? What have been doing? What am I looking for?

I have been mostly been in the here and now. There has been my wife’s post graduate study last year. There has been organising the kids in her absence. There has been helping my wife return and adjust to work as a primary school teacher this year. There has been such an enormous mass of stress surrounding me yet I stand mostly unshaken.

I was doing some full-time work last year and part-time work this year. I have been playing the role of Mr Mom trying to keep a family in balance. I have been cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and generally being a taxi service for the kids. I have maintained a routine of getting up at 4:30am to start meditation. On a good day I can manage to get in a 1.5hr walking meditation and 7hrs of sitting meditation. The minimum daily meditation sitting is at least the 1.5hrs morning meditation.

I have been searching for a long time. I have been looking for something that we are all looking for. What I am looking for has us all on the same playing field. There is no difference between a murderer, noble prize winner, president, prostitute, slave, artist or even an athlete. We are all equally close should our minds incline that way. I have had the fortune to have had a taste of something close to it. But I am still learning on how to possess it for longer. I’m talking about true and lasting happiness.

So now that I’ve told you what I’m looking for, let me describe its characteristics. This is important because just as there is fool’s gold, there is also fool’s happiness. Unfortunately, fools happiness has us all blindsighted and hinders us from seeing true happiness.

So walk with me for a while and let’s take a journey reflecting on moments in your life. Pull out your photo album, open your IPhone or Flickr photo gallery. Look for a photo of the happiest moment. Now, launch your iPod or your MP3 player. Scan your library and look for that favourite long. Now close your eyes for a moment. Try and remember that aroma that had you spellbound. Keep your eyes closed and try to recall that taste that had you shamefully wanting more and more. Finally, keep your eyes closed and now recall that touch/tactile sensation that had you entirely absorbed and shaken. There is no doubt that these moments are indeed moments of happiness. However, they all share a common trait. They are all short lived and others may kill, steal, lie, have illicit sex and consume intoxicants just to have them. Think about it for a second. We as a race kill, steal or lie over the sight of our partner having an affair, the sound of torment and bullying, a smell so repulsive that the body cannot withstand it any longer, a taste so savoured that we cannot bear to see it wasted and a touch so arousing that it must not be shared with others.

Now ask yourself, why is it that there isn’t just 1 photo, 1 soundtrack, 1 aroma, 1 taste or 1 tactile sensation? Surely, if each of our happiest moments were truly satisfying then there would be no album, no library, no repeated experiences searching for more! The problem here is that sensual happiness is fools gold. In fact we are so foolish that often we do not even realise that it is not the object, but the feeling that we associate with the object that we lust for. 

But we don’t need to walk that path. There are other forms of happiness. There is happiness that is dependent on concentration. This happiness is harmless because it is not an object that others can possess. That is, others cannot kill, steal or lie in order to gain it. However, happiness born of concentration needs to be cultivated. It takes time, commitment and energy and when developed can lead you to blissful and peaceful states. But like sensual happiness it too has drawbacks. It too is inconstant, subject to change and foolish if you get addicted to it. But it purpose is to only provide refreshment for the body until insight is gained. Hence, it is the path leading to true happiness.

True happiness is a happiness that is not dependent on anything. There is neither a sensual object nor an object of concentration required to sustain it. It is gained only by the penetration of truth and once gained it is permanent; there is no regression or loss. And what is this truth you may ask? This truth is not bitter. This truth is that there is a true happiness and that it can only be gained when the lust for foolish happiness has been abandoned without remainder.

So the next time you hear that voice in your head that says “Not good enough yet, got to have more, got to make it better, got to be better” remind yourself, that is fools gold.

with Metta ash