can we find happiness, here in this moment?if not here and now, then when?
this underlying dissatisfaction and dis-ease is at the heart of Buddhism’s First Noble Truth, that life is suffering.
not that life is itself some horrible or tragic thing, not at all. our suffering partly comes from attaching ourselves to things, people and life as if these things won’t change or pass away in a world where all things change and pass away. and our suffering also comes from a desire that we must have things a certain way or that we must have more in order to be happy, to have happiness.
and yes, we have goals and dreams and these can be great motivators and they can bring benefit and happiness to ourselves and others.
but can we be happy in this moment, even while we journey towards those goals and dreams?
can we be happy in this moment if they don’t happen or happen the way we thought they would?
can we be happy with just what is, here and now?
this is a struggle in western culture, in a culture of want, driven by attainment of things, people, and status.
we have enough.
the Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy and the quote below remind us that we can have happiness right now, here where we are at.
there is abundance.
“I see a fearless generosity in the flowers and trees, in the way birds sing out at dawn, in the steady drumming of the rain. As I grew older and found I had things to protect, I forgot. I completely forgot that I had always had enough in the first place. Now I am trying to learn this once again—total abundance, nothing begrudged.”
breathe…one of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphies.
the breath is life, to reconnect with the breath is to reconnect with life. to be present as one breathes is to be present in this moment, to be present with life. we cannot be lost in thought, in worry, in anger, if we are with our breath – paying attention to it as we breathe in. does it feel cold, is it warm? does it tingle at the nose? does the chest rise, does the belly expand as the breath fills our bodies? when we breathe out, do we feel the belly sink in, the chest fall, the body relax?
this is meditation. to find a comfortable sitting position, settling our bodies, back straight, eyes softened or closed, finding and releasing tension, and then observing our breath. thoughts can come and go. we let them. we allow them to come and go without judging or correcting ourselves for having them, and without running away with them. when we do run with our thoughts and we become aware that we have, we simply return to observing our breath. practice. this is what we practice. we do this each day so we grow a capacity to “be” with life, no matter what has manifest. we practice so we can learn to pause before our reactions, so we can make a thoughtful choice of action.
when we breathe in we are giving our body oxygen, life. a body provided for is a calm body. when we breathe out we are letting go, we are surrendering – quite literally – our life, our breath, along with all of our fears, worries, or anger. a mind provided for is a calm mind.
I know this, just as I know life is filled with impermanence and change (and there has been plenty of that both professionally and personally this year). and although we more often than not have an aversion to change, which causes us suffering, it is important to remember that without change there’d be no possibility of something better, no opportunity for our growth as precious human beings in this life to find a new home, a new place to continue our learning and growth.
yet when change comes heavy and fast, it can be jarring, unsettling and painful. the ground is removed from under our feet and we feel insecure. it is discomforting and heart aching to witness this happening to those we care about and not have a way to fix it or make it better. as was the case today.
so I remind myself as I remind them and all of us, breathe…