Since the beginning of time, or at least since 8am when I started thinking about it, people have pondered the meaning of religion and what role it has in their life. There are so many choices. Which one is right for you? Which one satisfies the deep seated longings and questions you have?
I don’t have those answers. I’m no sage. I forgot to brush my teeth this morning….
There is a book I’ve read a few times however, called The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, MD. (Penguin Putnam Inc, 1998) and it details how to be happy. There are so many valuable lessons that Buddhism teaches about simply being happy, and here’s my take on one of them.
You can choose to use it or not…I’m just writing something so certain people (you know who you are) won’t be disappointed with the volume of material going up here.
In the aforementioned book my homeboy, The 14th Dalai Lama, says that in order to be happy and content we must cultivate our ability to feel compassion for each individual. In every case, a person is a soul looking for happiness and serenity in their own life and if you can tap into that shared search, and thus the shared suffering of the world, then you are one step closer to enlightenment.
If you want to know from exactly where I’m drawing this in the book, you should probably go read it for yourself. Who has time to find the exact passages? Remember my teeth still need some attention here.
What I love about Buddhism is that it teaches us to broaden our outlook, to remember that everyone experiences suffering and that those people who are mean or spiteful…aggressive or rude, are most likely in some state of suffering or trauma. When we remember this, it’s easier to let things go.
Because when I realize that someone who’s being shitty is actually suffering, it makes me happy. And I can walk away from my experience with them a little lighter, and feeling better about myself. This is the greatest gift Buddha can give, right? He’s just sitting there, all big bellied, cast in gold…reminding us that assholes are really just broken souls. And what’s more personally uplifting than remembering that??
The next time you encounter someone truly vile, completely morally empty, remember that inside there is deep suffering. Then let a smile spread across your own face with the knowledge that they’re in debilitating spiritual pain. It’s what Buddha wants.
Unless I’ve missed the point entirely about Buddhism…but I sincerely doubt THAT.