A couple of years ago the Dalai Lama attended a large scientific meeting in Washington DC. He met with doctors, neuroscientists and meditation teachers to explore the latest clinical research on meditation and neurobiology.
One morning a network television reporter interviewed him, and asked about meditation and happiness.
“You had the New York Times bestselling book entitled The Art of Happiness, and you frequently teach about happiness. Could you tell our viewers about the happiest moment in your life?”
The Dalai Lama considered for a moment, smiled and said, “I think, now.”
Not going to Oslo and accepting the Nobel Peace Prize?
Or experiencing profoundly deep and unspeakably blissful meditative states?
Oh, I see. For the Dalai Lama this moment now is the happiest of his life.
This reminds me a little of a line from a poem by Emily Dickenson:
“Life is so astonishing; it leaves very little time for anything else.”
Anything else, I hear her saying, like frustration and guilt and remorse.
But as we “normal” folks wake up to another day of dealing with a stressful job, and maybe some underlying indecision and confusion about our life, what Emily Dickenson and the Dalai Lama say can make joy sound too easy, too New Agey.
Sometimes we just give in to despair, anxiety and worry.
But even when we are caught in junky mind states, some secret part of us knows that there must be another way.
Some part of us recognizes that even in the worst situations, the heart can be free and quite happy.
If it were not possible to free the heart from entanglement in junky mind states, I would not teach you to do so. But just because it is possible to free the heart from entanglement in junky mind states do I offer these teachings.
We have within us an extraordinary capacity for joy, love and freedom.
To re-awaken or re-discover this joy, this love, is what this path is all about.
Maybe meditation itself is an act of love, not a means to an end.
In meditation-as-love, love discovers itself.
“Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; rather, do it as an act of love, of deep warm friendship to yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers the possibility of an end to the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot. Instead there is now meditation as an act of love. How endlessly delightful and encouraging.”
– Bob Sharples, from Meditation: Calming the Mind
So just being here, right now, is love, is joy, is freedom.
Ah, so simple.
The truth is hidden in plain sight!
It’s just right here.
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