Where is my key?
One night a man was crawling around on his hands and knees to look for something underneath a lamppost. When his friends saw him, they asked him what he was looking for, and he told them that he had lost the key to his house. So they all got down to help him look, but without any success. Finally, one of them asked him where exactly he had lost the key, and he replied, “In the house.”
“Then why,” his friends asked, “are you looking underneath the lamppost?”
The man replied, “Because there’s more light here.”
We are not very different from this man. We are doing the same thing all the time – always seeking fulfillment in sense pleasure because that seem the obvious place to look, believing it to be the place where happiness is to be found. But is it?
To live a wonderful life
Once walking along the river bank at the outskirt of Kusinara, the Buddha came across a young man who was gazing at the river and smiling to himself.
“What are you thinking of, young man?” the Buddha asked.
“I am thinking of living a wonderful life,” the young man answered.
“Then what makes a wonderful life?”
“Say, one day I obtain a lot of riches and I marry the most beautiful woman there is. Then I get a dog and take a walk along this river bank. I will sit down and enjoy the scenery. It will be a wonderful life.”
The Buddha said, “Haven’t you got it already? “
If we will take our time to reflect on all that we already have, all that we already are, we will realize we are having a wonderful life, at this very moment. Genuine happiness and peace lie in contentment and simplicity. Voluntary simplicity creates lightness and spaciousness in our lives. When the forces of craving and acquisitiveness dwindle and we are less driven by the impulses of a wanting mind, we experience peace and freedom.
Rather than this being the cause of a withdrawal from the world, it creates a space in our lives in which we can move and act with greater strength and integrity. Our actions would be free from attachment and motives. Generosity then becomes a spontaneous expression of our understanding and compassion. We give open-heartedly of our time, energy, material objects, kindness, love and care.
At the end of his life, Aldous Huxley said that he had come to appreciate how most of the spiritual practice is learning to be kind to one another. When the attitude of kindness is strong, we stop being preoccupied with our own concerns, and the circle of our caring expands to include all. This is the practice of loving kindness, or metta – conducive not only to a harmonious society but also towards one’s spiritual growth.
See this World
See all of this world
As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream
The wisdom in this verse contained at the “Diamond Sutra” reminds us of the ephemeral and elusive nature of all things. Thinking that is where pleasure lies, we scheme and labor to accumulate more possessions, money, more honour, fame, power, sex and so forth, that we burden ourselves with acquisitions, both material and psychological.
How many times have we experienced beautiful sights and sounds, delicious tastes, wonderful sensations, exciting thoughts, rapturous feelings and yet our wanting mind is not appeased. We look for more in quantity, more in variety, and how many times do we feel we have truly found happiness? The problem is that even if pleasant feelings do come, they do not last, and we go round and round, looking for permanent satisfaction in phenomena that in their very nature are impermanent.
Why don’t we simply pause and look around us?
The Greatest Season
A hundred flowers blossom in spring,
Whilst full moon hangs in the autumn sky;
Cool breeze whispers throughout the summer,
Before the snowy winter passes by.
When nothing trivial lingers in one’s mind,
It is indeed the greatest season of all time.
So even though winter is here and spring blossoms have not arrived, look around you, listen carefully, touch the chair you are sitting on… beauty is all around, and you are at one with all there is.