The art of happiness

Excerpts from “The art of happiness” by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler.

Sometimes when I meet old friends, it reminds me how quickly time passes. And it makes me wonder if we’ve utilized our time properly or not. Proper utilization of time is so important. While we have this body, and especially this amazing human brain, I think every moment is something precious. Our day-to-day existence is very much alive with hope, although there is no guarantee of our future. There is no guarantee that tomorrow at this time we will be here. But still we are working for that purely on the basis of hope. So, we need to make the best use of our time. I believe that the proper utilization of time is this:  if you can, serve other people, other sentient beings. If not, at least refrain from harming them. I think that is the whole basis of my philosophy.

So, let us reflect on what is truly of value in life, what gives meaning to our lives, and set our priorities on the basis of that. The purpose of our life needs to be positive. We weren’t born with the purpose of causing trouble, harming others. For our life to be of value, I think we must develop basic good human qualities – warmth, kindness, compassion. Then our life becomes meaningful and more peaceful – happier.

*****

I think that this is the first time I am meeting most of you. But to me, whether it is an old friend or new friend, there’s not much difference anyway, because I always believe we are the same; we are all human beings. Of course, there may be differences in cultural background or way of life, there may be differences in our faith, or we may be of a different color, but we are human beings, consisting of the human body and the human mind. Our physical structure is the same, and our mind and our emotional nature are also the same. Wherever I meet people, I always have the feeling that I am encountering another human being, just like myself. I find it is much easier to communicate with others on that level. If we emphasize specific characteristics, like I am Tibetan or I am Buddhist, then there are differences. But those things are secondary. If we can leave the differences aside, I think we can easily communicate, exchange ideas, and share experiences.

*****

I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. We all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…

Half a year anniversary ))

Exactly half a year ago I’ve seen John last time. Everything that happened during this time had huge influence on me and I wouldn’t take it back, because today I’m different person and I really like who I am. Even more, now when I saw his “other” side, I can’t imagine myself with him, I’m happy that things didn’t go farther. But more I try to let go bad part between me and John, more I try to understand him, more good memories are popping up in my head… And I miss that guy that I knew. Today, when I came back home with Andrew I felt really great smell from kitchen. Last time when somebody cooked for us was last time when John was here. I don’t remember if I mentioned it before, Andrew liked John a lot back then and we spent amazing time all together (actually we never bonded with somebody so easy and so great). That smell brought up all feelings from that time. It’s hard when memories come as feelings, because then it’s not so easy to cut it as thoughts. I remember exactly that day when John was cooking for us. His flight was canceled and he stayed with us 3 days more, can you imagine how happy I was? 3 days.. eternity… To feel him around, to feel safe and in love… to feel childish happiness :).

Anyway I wouldn’t start relationship with him again. I can forgive him, but I don’t see him as a man anymore. Weird thing is.. that I want to help him. I was reading one book recently where author said that 40-42 years is very dangerous period and if person is truly unhappy it can lead to serious illness and even death. I could just leave it without attention, but this book came to me in right place in right time and a lot of things that were written there were connected to my unique life circumstances.  And even more, couple of months ago John was seriously sick and doctors said that if he called an ambulance couple of minutes later he would die. And now his wife got into car accident and was seriously injured. To be honest, I don’t believe in accidents, so it made me think about all of this. But you really can’t help somebody if he doesn’t want to help himself.

Actually I got a letter from him recently, he says that he is trying to concentrate on business as much as possible and it helps him not to think about what he needs to be happy… But a lot of “wise” people say that one can’t be successful in business, if he is not successful in life. Personally, I don’t believe that one can “freeze” all personal problems,  and reach goals in own business, because this mess will follow him/her everywhere, it’s inside of person. But we’ll see how story goes.

Forgiveness (Buddha)

The Buddha was sitting under a tree talking to his disciples when a man came and spit on his face. He wiped it off, and he asked the man, “What next? What do you want to say next?” The man was a little puzzled because he himself never expected that when you spit on somebody’s face, he will ask, “What next?” He had no such experience in his past.

He had insulted people and they had become angry and they had reacted. Or if they were cowards and weaklings, they had smiled, trying to bribe the man. But Buddha was like neither, he was not angry nor in any way offended, nor in any way cowardly. But just matter-of-factly he said, “What next?” There was no reaction on his part.

Buddha’s disciples became angry, they reacted. His closest disciple, Ananda, said, “This is too much, and we cannot tolerate it. He has to be punished for it. Otherwise everybody will start doing things like this.”

Buddha said, “You keep silent. He has not offended me, but you are offending me. He is new, a stranger. He must have heard from people something about me, that this man is an atheist, a dangerous man who is throwing people off their track, a revolutionary, a corrupter. And he may have formed some idea, a notion of me. He has not spit on me, he has spit on his notion. He has spit on his idea of me because he does not know me at all, so how can he spit on me?

“If you think on it deeply,” Buddha said, “he has spit on his own mind. I am not part of it, and I can see that this poor man must have something else to say because this is a way of saying something. Spitting is a way of saying something. There are moments when you feel that language is impotent: in deep love, in intense anger, in hate, in prayer. There are intense moments when language is impotent. Then you have to do something. When you are angry, intensely angry, you hit the person, you spit on him, you are saying something. I can understand him. He must have something more to say, that’s why I’m asking, “What next?”

The man was even more puzzled! And Buddha said to his disciples, “I am more offended by you because you know me, and you have lived for years with me, and still you react.”

Puzzled, confused, the man returned home. He could not sleep the whole night. When you see a Buddha, it is difficult, impossible to sleep again the way you used to sleep before. Again and again he was haunted by the experience. He could not explain it to himself, what had happened. He was trembling all over and perspiring. He had never come across such a man; he shattered his whole mind and his whole pattern, his whole past.

The next morning he was back there. He threw himself at Buddha’s feet. Buddha asked him again, “What next? This, too, is a way of saying something that cannot be said in language. When you come and touch my feet, you are saying something that cannot be said ordinarily, for which all words are a little narrow; it cannot be contained in them.” Buddha said, “Look, Ananda, this man is again here, he is saying something. This man is a man of deep emotions.”

The man looked at Buddha and said, “Forgive me for what I did yesterday.”

Buddha said, “Forgive? But I am not the same man to whom you did it. The Ganges goes on flowing, it is never the same Ganges again. Every man is a river. The man you spit upon is no longer here. I look just like him, but I am not the same, much has happened in these twenty-four hours! The river has flowed so much. So I cannot forgive you because I have no grudge against you.”

“And you also are new. I can see you are not the same man who came yesterday because that man was angry and he spit, whereas you are bowing at my feet, touching my feet. How can you be the same man? You are not the same man, so let us forget about it. Those two people, the man who spit and the man on whom he spit, both are no more. Come closer. Let us talk of something else.”

Midnight thoughts

I’m holding on to something that is not real. Why, should I ask myself. Obviously John is not the man I should pay attention to. Obviously he is not a Man. But when something happens in relationship both woman and man take a part. What was my role in that? What should I learn about myself? Maybe that I shouldn’t search for love in somebody. I should have it inside already. Deep love for life and myself. Of course I have it, but looks like not enough… All love that I need should be inside already?! Most likely. Then I can give it to others without expectations to get something back.

Just some thoughts inside my head after hard day. And I’m not drunk if you are wondering :).

A girl from the bus

Today I had great evening with a girl that I met in the bus :). We met some time ago, she just started talking to me, I talked back, we exchanged phone numbers and agreed to meet. I love meeting new people and usually I’m the one who talks to people first, so it was a very pleasant surprise for me. I always was wondering, why if somebody somehow is interesting for us we can’t just show our interest to unknown people because it’s something that “normal” people don’t do. Usually everybody just concentrated on own problems and is not suppose even to look at peoples faces more than one second because it can be misunderstood as rudeness or aggression.

So, we met today. Almost from very beginning I noticed that she was worried about something. I asked how was her day and she said: “it was confusing, there are some things that I need to understand but I just can’t”. I asked her if she wants to talk about it, she refused, and despite I was very curious and felt that she could use good conversation at that moment, I need to respect her personal space and I switched subject to usual getting to know routine.  We went to drink coffee, we have this amazing places with different kinds of coffee and tea, including various mixes coffee with alcohol. There was some weirdness of strangers talk between us, but I was fascinated by process of getting to know her and listening to her view of things. I love active listening, they say that every person most of all likes talking about himself/herself, but for me it looks like I’m more interested in listening, observing, letting person to say what he/she needs to say. It’s really a pleasure for me. Of course only if person is interesting for me somehow, though I understand that everybody has something special. So, I even didn’t notice how she started telling me what is bothering her. It’s amazing how people can become opened and I love this moment when you feel that they trust you. Her problem was concerning her boyfriend. She told me it quite detailed and while I was listening I saw exactly my story with my almost ex-husband on the beginning of our relationship. And for a moment I saw everything what is going on with her so clear, that I barely could stop myself from giving her advice. Part of me wanted to save her, part of me thought that I know what she is going through. But! I have no right to think even for a moment that I know her and her situation. It’s my experience and it has nothing to do with her. So, I just asked her questions that somebody had to ask me couple of years ago. If it helps her to understand what she wants, what she needs, I will be very happy. If not, I can do nothing about it, because everybody has own life and I have no right to pretend that I know what is better.

On my way home, when I was thinking about our meeting, I noticed that I know some things about her and she knows almost nothing about me. And I’m glad, it means that I was a good listener.  It’s not easy to find somebody who wants to listen to what we have to say and I’m happy that she found one.

For some reason, when I usually come back home from meeting with someone I feel more strong that I miss John. Maybe it’s because I still want to share with him my experiences as I used to do… Maybe because I feel more lonely.. I’m wondering what he is doing right now, if he can feel something.. We had this weird thing, we could feel each other without any communication, for example, I could have hair standing on ends a second before he called without knowing that he was going to..

p.s. also today when i was buying a wine I was asked for my id :). I didn’t have an id but I’ve managed to get a wine. Cheers :)