When we look at our situation, we recognize that we desire happiness, peace and joy. We want to solve our difficulties. This is natural! This is human nature.
However, if we are truly honest with ourselves, we will realize that we keep looking for happiness in the wrong places… We continue looking for the wrong things… We place our trust in things that we only understand temporarily… We are always searching for something that we think that will heal us… We consider that we need one more condition, just one more thing…to be completely content.
Have you ever wondered why sometimes in a very bad situation, we can be well and in other times, even in perfect times, we find ourselves in a state of emotional boredom or stress?Sonia Gomes
If we maintain this attitude, yet subtle, we begin our life of practice by not relying deeply on our own innate goodness and the innate goodness of others, but on the contrary, we see ourselves as rather “broken”, as needing to be “repaired” to some extent.
We approach practice with an attitude of lack, rather than an attitude of abundance. We are pursuing something, someone or a condition that we think is outside of ourselves and that it will “fix us” and give us better returns. By keeping this mentality, the focus of our spiritual life becomes only the repair of ourselves. We think we are bad and then, we create ourselves in a repair project. In my personal experience, I always used to feel that I was building this project, which made me someone difficult and critical of my own person, but also made me be quite harsh and critical towards others, so they, too, were converted into repair projects.
Among the many stories told about Buddha’s awakening, there is one that I feel is important for us to deeply understand before we go further: it is one of the first things reported that Buddha would have said when he awoke: “Wow, this is weird … Not only I, but every living being has the seed of infinite goodness, of infinite gentleness, of awakening, within itself. Each living being will become a Buddha.” We call this ability the seed of bodhicitta, the mind of love. In other words: the approach to the Buddhist practice is to bring out the innate integrity that has been present all the time – it is the natural state of our mind.
We should ask ourselves these questions: “What feeds joy in me? What nourishes joy in others? Am I sufficiently nourishing joy in myself and in others?” These are questions concerning the Third Noble Truth. The cessation of suffering and the presence of the well-being will be available if we know how to enjoy the precious jewels we already possess – we have eyes that see, lungs that breathe, legs that walk and lips that can smile.
When we are suffering, we should consider our situation and find the conditions of happiness that are existent, fully available to us. When we begin the first stage of the Third Noble Truth, we already have some happiness, but we are not clearly aware of it. We are free, but we do not know that we are. When we are young, we are strong and healthy, but we do not value it. Even if someone tries to explain us this, we cannot understand what we in fact have. Only when we have difficulty in walking, do we understand how wonderful it is to have two healthy legs.
Do not throw away your suffering, but get in touch with it. We should face the pain and our joy will deepen. We already know that both pain and joy are not permanent. Let´s learn, therefore, the art of cultivating joy. By practicing this, we reach the third twist of the Third Noble Truth, the “Realization”, and therefore, we understand that suffering and happiness are not different things. When you attain this stage, joy is no longer a fragile feeling, but yes, it becomes true joy.
We seek wealth, pleasure, worthy social conditions and power to be happy. But as we strive for these values, we forget the main purpose by wasting time trying to reach the means as if they were the ends. While doing so, we miss the target and become deeply dissatisfied. This substitution of the means for the ends is one of the main ambushes that we find in the search of a life with meaning.
We are very much compared to those birds that have spent so much time in a cage that even when they have the possibility to fly away freely, they return to it. We are so accustomed to our mistakes that we can scarcely imagine what life would be like without them. The prospective of change causes us vertigo.
But after all, what is Happiness?
It is a state of mind and spirit. True happiness is a lasting joy derived from an authentically lived life that overcomes challenges, that constantly seeks self-control and that is dedicated to making sense of something far greater than itself.
So once again, Happiness is a state of mind. No matter what we do, how or where we do it, we will not experience happiness if we are not in that particular state of mind. We must choose to be happy, no matter our conditions or what happens to us. Have you ever wondered why sometimes in a very bad situation, we can be well and in other times, even in perfect times, we find ourselves in a state of emotional boredom or stress?
Happiness is a journey. It is not a destiny or anything to be acquired or learned, it is something internal.
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