Friday, May 21, 2010

The Art of Happiness

I'm reading The Art of Happiness, by The Dalai Lama and Howard Cutler. A couple weeks ago, somebody dumped about twenty books on the curb. A friend gathered them up and brought some home. When I dropped over for a visit, the smiling face of the Dalai Lama caught my eye. I picked up the book and started reading.

I'm not going to review the book, other than to say I read a chapter a day, for inspiration. It's refreshing to know there is an alternative to wretchedness. Although heartache, sorrow and pain are part of life, there's no need to be miserable. It's common sense, but often common sense doesn't sink in until someone like the Dalai Lama says it.

It's refreshing to read an honest description of the human condition, that doesn't wallow in despair or get flaky with extravagant promises. It's amazing to find a book which says pain is not a problem. Of course, pain is not pleasant. Pain usually indicates that something is not quite right and needs attention. Pain, in some situations, is beneficial. It can deflate arrogance and motivate a person to pay attention to what's going on. The book contains a chapter called "Finding meaning in Pain and Suffering." Using pain as a part of meditation could open a person's heart or mind, eroding self-absorption to enable compassion to grow. Compassion, friendliness or connection to others are basic to happiness. There is a chapter on intimacy, one on deepening one's connection to others and one on the value of compassion. The book suggests how one could train the mind in order to develop positive qualities. 

Looking back on some of the negative stuff I've written in Dreaming Man and Club Morono, I realize the need to take seriously the Dalai Lama's teachings. My aspiration is to face what's there, to pay attention to details, to not turn away from the piercing intensity of existence. I'm no longer interested in wallowing in ignorance and confusion. 

Through mindfulness and meditation, explore the landscape of the mind. Don't be afraid of what's there. Move through the valleys and shadows, while gradually emerging into the light and climbing to higher ground, where one could enjoy a wider perspective, or a vast horizon.

1 comment:

Adrian said...

Buddhism and meditation has changed my life, has turned any problem, pain or fear into an opportunity to know my true self. And to find that my true self dwells only in bliss.

Good luck with your journey!