Everyone wants to be happy. According to all the research, what makes people most happy is their connections with other people. To have a sense of belonging to a loving family or loving community is what makes us happy and apparently adds as much as 10 years to life expectancy. Before I became a Buddhist I was very self-sufficient and cultivated independence and self-sufficiency. This was not a bad thing, but it did take me many years of practising Buddhism before I realised experientially, that I did need other people – that my spiritual practice was nothing without other people and that the family of Sangha really was a blessing and a boon in my life. I can say now that I am happy most of the time and I believe this is largely due to being part of this alive spiritual community of Triratna. Bhante Sangharakshita says in Wisdom beyond Words that there is only one thing we need in order to be able to give to others. We need “to love ourselves and know that we are loved by others. Appreciate ourselves and know that we are appreciated by others”. This is also what we need in order to be happy.
Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Life is abundant. Life is like a tropical rainforest or a Niagara falls – it rolls on relentlessly and is a flourishing abundant cornucopia –producing and reproducing endlessly. Life cannot be stopped, it cannot be contained and restrained. But we want to control life. Our fears and insecurities lead us to want to control life as much as possible. We even want to control the future.
EM Forster –the English writer – said: “ We can spend our whole life preparing to live” . And John Lennon said “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans” . In other words the urge to control life and make it secure and comfortable can lead us to miss out on actually living our lives. We can spend a lot of time and energy trying to create an imagined future or trying to protect ourselves from a feared future and in the meantime our life is almost on hold.
But as Sangharakshita puts it in his poem of the same name – Life is King.
Hour after hour, day
After day we try
To grasp the Ungraspable, pinpoint
The Unpredictable. Flowers
Wither when touched, ice
Suddenly cracks beneath or feet. Vainly
We try to track birdflight through the sky trace
Dumb fish through deep water. Try
To anticipate the earned smile the soft
Try to grasp our own lives. But life
Slips through our fingers
Like snow. Life cannot belong to us. We belong to Life. Life
The great Albert Einstein is quoted as saying:
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”
Mindfulness is the Buddhist way of living your life as though everything is a miracle. For Buddhists it is not the walking on water that is a miracle, it is the simple fact of walking. When we have mindfulness and when we have love, we have everything and without needing to control, we are able to connect to the pulsing heart of life.