Melting Into Happiness
Today’s theme: Melting & Happiness
Be Melting Snow
Totally conscious, and apropos of nothing, you come to see me.
Is someone here? I ask.
The moon. The full moon is inside your house.
My friends and I go running out into the street.
I’m in here, comes a voice from the house, but we aren’t listening.
We’re looking up at the sky.
My pet nightingale sobs like a drunk in the garden.
Ringdoves scatter with small cries, Where, Where.
It’s midnight. The whole neighborhood is up and out
in the street thinking, The cat burglar has come back.
The actual thief is there too, saying out loud,
Yes, the cat burglar is somewhere in this crowd.
No one pays attention.
Lo, I am with you always means when you look for God,
God is in the look of your eyes,
in the thought of looking, nearer to you than your self,
or things that have happened to you
There’s no need to go outside.
Be melting snow.
Wash yourself of yourself.
A white flower grows in quietness.
Let your tongue become that flower.
How To Be Happy
If we want to know how to be happy, we need to know what makes us unhappy. Most would say that’s simple. High taxes, tons of bills, too many responsibilities, not enough vacation, money shortage, that’s what makes us unhappy right? Not exactly.
The Real Cause of Suffering
We humans try to stabilize what keeps changing. We hold onto fleeting pleasures. We try to avoid threats. We run endless scenarios in our minds, like a continuous movie theater playing non-existent stories about stabilizing our constantly changing lives, avoiding future dangers, and grasping at good experiences. Animals don’t have complex minds that run endless stories. But we do. We worry about the future, regret the past, blame ourselves for the present.
Rick Hanson, in The Buddha’s Brain, says “We get frustrated when we can’t have what we want, and disappointed when what we like ends. We suffer that we suffer. We get upset about being in pain, angry about dying, sad about waking up sad yet another day. This kind of suffering – which encompasses most of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction – is constructed by the brain.”
This suffering is made up! How ironic. The very same organ that is trying to protect us is also generating our suffering. But if the brain is generating suffering itself, that means it also can be the cure.
According to a very wise teacher who lived about 24 centuries ago, the cure comes from “Cooling the fires of greed and hatred, to live with integrity. By creating a steady mind through concentration and to see it’s confusions directly. And to develop liberating insight.”
Another way to express the cure is through three things – virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom. That’s it. That simple.
What is Meant by Virtue, Mindfulness, and Wisdom?
Virtue is controlling your actions in a natural way. Rick Hanson would say “Virtue relies on the bottom-up calming from the parasympathetic nervous system and positive emotions from the limbic system.” Virtue is most often tested in relationships, the perfect experimental laboratory for virtue. If the brain states of empathy, kindness and love can be nurtured, you will kick major butt in the virtue department.
Mindfulness involves the skillful use of both your inner landscape and your outer life. “Since your brain learns mainly from what you attend to, mindfulness is the doorway to taking good experiences and making them a part of yourself.”
Wisdom is another word for good common sense. It’s finding what is the true cause of problems in your life and debugging them. If you understand the truth of suffering, you will let go of the things that hurt yourself and others. It will be easy to do this once you have a clear understanding.
How Do I Do This?
Easy. Come back next Thursday to Zen of Water and we will continue the exploration of virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom using concrete examples, tips, and tricks. We will learn how to work directly with the circuitry of the systems in our brains to become fine tuned happiness machines. There is a way to find peace and happiness in your life. It just takes a little practice and being on the right path. Stop by next Thursday for the continuation of our discussion.
Please leave comments and feedback below and I will publish the questions and bring solutions in next week’s discussion.
Thank you for stopping by. Have a wonderful peaceful and happy week.
Venice, Rome, Milan, and Florence are of course the most known and admired towns in Italy. When moving to north-western Italy (Milan, Turin) it is nevertheless absolutely worth staying for a couple of days or a weekend in Genoa. The city is a good base to explore the Italian Riviera and world famous places like Portofino and the Cinque Terre.
Paolo Coelho wrote: “Among the marvels of Italy, it will take some digging to find the beauties of Genova, but it is worth visiting it. I remember walking there with a friend, when she suddenly said: “Let’s stop for a bit. I can’t stand this orange color!””. The fact is the more you stay the more you will enjoy and appreciate the town. A place where you discover daily new surprises, even if you stay for years.