Monday, June 4, 2012

On the Blessings of Happiness

A man in Pakistan labors at the train terminal loading and unloading bundles which sometimes weigh more than he does. He and his family live a subsistence life-style. No running water, a few simple possessions in a single room dwelling with a ceiling fan but otherwise devoid of electronics and almost no furniture. A woman in upstate New York works for a marketing company, lives in a 3200 square foot house with all the amenities, drives a new luxury car, and vacations in the islands. Who's happier?

The man in Pakistan makes daily devotions in which he thanks Allah for all he has; enough to eat (though barely), his healthy children, his loving and dutiful wife, the fact that he has work, grueling as it is. The woman in New York wakes each day her mind racing with all the tasks before her, the meetings, the presentations, the phone calls. She barely has time to remember the grief she carries with her for her youngest child killed a year ago by a speeding motorist. Again, who's happier.

We do a lot of focusing here in America on income inequalities. And rightfully so. Too much suffering stems from these inequalities. But in our anger at the lack of justice in this world we forget too easily the real search for happiness that can make it or break it for us. Yes, it is our duty to relieve suffering as much as we can and not just for humanity but also for all sentient beings. But as we do this we often go begging the question of happiness. We often condemn the greed, arrogance, and lack of moral fiber in an entire class of people without understanding that we are really just feeding our egos. Do it out of love. Do it out of compassion. But to do it out of hatred and self-righteousness takes us right back to the essential problem. Which is the human ego. The ego sees the other as separate not connected. It never sees itself in the other. The ego assigns a value to others based on how congruent their beliefs are with the ego's beliefs. The ego wants to perpetuate conflict because it supplies the the distraction which the ego craves. The distraction from contemplating our inevitable demise. And the ego is never happy.

Happiness is a choice. If you make the choice to be happy then happiness will come to you. Once that happens the crises of the world fall away. There will always be crises in the world. And if you are one of those who would lift the human spirit and seek to bring Peace, Love, and Happiness to the planet you have the wonderful opportunity to start with yourself. Yes, you can and should feel anger at the injustices of this world. But recognize that anger is the turmoil at the surface of the ocean and deep within it is calm and quiet. Keep the core of your being in a state of gratitude and service. Then no matter what happens you will be happy.

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