Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Candy or Gold, You’re Choice

What we call happiness in everyday parlance is only “happiness” because we’re not seeing it clearly. What we call “happiness” is, in fact, nothing more or less than being excited about getting what we want. In dharma terms, that’s greed, not happiness.

True happiness doesn’t come from getting what we want and it isn’t dependent on externals. Externals, as we know from meditation, are impermanent and always changing. To hang our happiness on something that is about to disappear isn’t real happiness. Real happiness comes from within, from letting go of our delusions, from being our Buddhanature, being our original untarnished self.

If we want to reach true happiness, we must be dedicated, disciplined, and above all, honest with ourselves. And we must be willing to give up the illusion of happiness that comes from getting our way in order to be happiness.

We act more like kids than adults in making this choice. We tell ourselves we want it both ways. We’re not willing to give up our candy for gold. We tell ourselves we can keep the candy and get the gold too, building one delusion on top of another. It doesn’t work that way. And even though we realize that it doesn’t work that way–after all, if it did we would be happy by now–we continue to tell ourselves we’re right and that we should be attached to the stuff we like and want.

Until we are willing to rearrange our priorities and commit to living a disciplined, meditation- and wisdom-informed life, all we will do is increase our unhappiness, our stress and anxiety. We know this, of course, if we look at what’s happening around things we say make us happy.

Take a closer look: What do most people say at the end of a cruise: WOW, this was great, we should do it again next year. Instead of enjoying the end of the cruise, we’re trying to get more of it and our idea of it. This is greed. This is protecting and defending our feeling about how great the trip was by buying another. This is fertilizing the seeds that say, “If a little is good, a lot is better” thinking that “a lot” will finally make us r-e-a-l-l-y happy.

Again, this excitement at getting what we want; it is not real happiness

We spend so much time working on our desires and attachments, strengthening them and increasing them, that we aren’t present with the things we tell ourselves are so wonderful and such a source of our happiness. We’d rather talk about how good it will be next year than to actually be on the cruise.

This is the candy in our life, and we hold onto it tenaciously. Ironically, it is exactly that tenacity that prevents us from moving along the path to real happiness, the gold.

Question is, do you want occasional moments when you delude yourself into thinking you’re happy or do you want to be happy all the time. Are you willing to trade the “happiness” that comes from getting externals for the happiness that comes from within, from a settled mind that is clear and at ease, even under the most difficult circumstances? The happiness that comes from spiritual well-being and a disciplined mind can survive even sickness, aging and death, so why is it that we are so willing to forego it for momentary “pleasures.”

When we let go of the candy, when we are willing to sacrifice external pleasures, we become free of the mental burdens, the stress and anxiety, that they entail and that binds us to our suffering.

External pleasures are our addictions to eye-candy, ear-candy, nose-candy, tongue-candy, body-candy, and mind-candy. They foster the three poison: greed, anger, and delusion, and they actively block the qualities we need to achieve inner peace. Even if we had all the time and energy of a million lives, the pursuit of these pleasures would only lead us further and further away from the goal.

So do we relish our passions or renounce them? Do we follow the path or only give it lip service?