Last week I attended another Buddhist course called ‘Tools for happiness’ and as I was two days in I found myself wondering ‘What is happiness’? What is it that I am striving for here? The buddhist perspective would be that you are free of suffering. This essentially means being a buddha and being free of the delusions that pollute our mind like the clouds pollute the clear blue sky. Or like there is dust on our clear mirrors. But the matter of the fact is, as far as I know, we are all not there yet. Which means we all see the world through our own colored lenses and we all experience it differently with different kind of pitfalls and suffering. For one it might be getting jealous of me being here, for the other it might be the attachment to food or to being liked by everybody, or just anger issues. The matter of the fact is we all suffer. So what is happiness in this world where our mirrors are full of dust?
I specifically wonder because I realized everyone is interpreting my journey differently and that got me thinking. Not only am I doing this journey blindfolded it feels, others are also projecting their views on it. From a Buddhist perspective this makes sense. According to Buddhism we are all programmed with our past karmic imprints, not only from this life but also from past lives, and how we view things is determined by this. And the essence of it makes sense. If we feel something is wrong, we look into our past and check whether somehow our view of the world is ‘distorted’. The funny part is, we all have different ‘distorted’ views. And that everyone views the world differently is, in my eyes, evident. By checking we can actually easily see that our views are definitely not universal. So what is this journey? That is just up to my diluted perceptions to decide and yours to give a separate interpretation. However, don’t hold your interpretations to be true (just like I don’t with mine) and be careful projecting them onto others. That is at least what I try to do with my perceptions. It might be more harmful than you think.
Can you sense a little bit of anger in there? I just realized there is 😉. Another perception of mine, which is not thé truth. Oké, I am getting off track now. Back to my question. What is happiness? When are you happy? The reason I ask is that it seems that we all hold our own views on this. Although I have posted about some existential points that are helping me throughout this trip did not mean I was not happy. And I guess that holds for everyone and wherever you are. Although you had a crappy morning, having to walk through the rain, missing your coffee and having to run for that train (or actually missing it), you are not unhappy, are you?
We tend to mistake happiness for having all these external things. Long-term trips, beaches, jungle hikes, a house, a job, a partner. It is all supposed to make us happy, isn’t it? Whereas the truth is the longing for it and the attachment to it makes us very unhappy. It makes us suffer. And then that annoying thought arises within us that when you have all these things, you should be happy. At least, that is what we think society expects us to be.
However, I think we can all agree it does not work that way. The last year I have learned happiness, if you are not a Buddha, can be found in the smaller moments. The moments in which you can let go of your anger, pride, and attachment. The moments in which you realize the way you see the world is different from anyone else, that there is no one truth and you are okay with that. The moments you realize how much love, kindness and compassion there is around you and in the world. I learned, happiness is never in the moments where I realize what I have in a materialistic sense, but when I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to be who I am, to meet who I meet and to be where I am at. Happiness is not a constant state of mind, just like misery is not! It is okay to be miserable, it will pass. Just like it is okay to be happy, but remember that also passes. Don’t hold on to it because paradoxically grasping at it will make you feel miserable.
I guess what I am trying to say is, happiness is all around you. It does not matter where you are, it is there. All it sometimes asks for is for you to stand still and change your view.
So although my blogs can sound quite heavy and existential. In between those moments I am pretty damn happy as well!