Friday, September 17, 2010

Obstacles on the Path

I've been writing about paths to happiness, and yesterday I spent some time on the Path of Being.

The idea behind the Path of Being is that since it is based on something we already are, something that it is impossible not to do, that the chances are much higher that we can find happiness on this path than the others.

And yet, many people would still say that they are not happy. If we are always here, why do we not feel that way?

One of the paradoxes of being "here" is that we often are seemingly not. We are thinking about the future or the past. We are wanting things to be different. We are thinking about how we want some things and want to avoid others. We are constantly assessing how things are going--how we are doing against some list of ideals that we have decided will make us happy (see the earlier discussion about The Path of Having).

When we look closely, though, we can sometimes sense that the only obstacle to being happy is the thought that we are unhappy. And the question arises, then, how do we stop that thought?

The short answer is that we don't. But over time, as we become more familiar with our thoughts in contemplative practices such as just sitting, we can see through these thoughts. We can see that they are just thoughts. That our thoughts do not define us. That in a very important sense, we have thoughts, but we are not our thoughts.

Who are we without thoughts? What are we when we are not thinking? What is in that silence?

Peace. Peace that is available right now, but that can also be cultivated. And if happiness is the absence of need, even going beyond need, then happiness is in that peace, too.


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