Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Orchids And Butterflies

"...for happiness is above all a love of life. To have lost all reason for living is to open up an abyss of suffering. As influential as external conditions may be, suffering, like well-being, is essentially an interior state. Understanding that is the key prerequisite to a life worth living. What mental conditions will sap our joie de vivre, and which will nourish it?

"Changing the way we see the world does not imply a naive optimism or some artificial euphoria designed to counterbalance adversity. So long as we are slaves to the dissatisfaction and frustration that arise from the confusion that rules our minds, it will be just as futile to tell ourselves “I’m happy!” over and over again as it would be to repaint a wall in ruins. The search for happiness is not about looking at life through rose-colored glasses or blinding oneself to the pain and imperfections of the world. Nor is happiness a state of exaltation to be perpetuated at all costs; it is the purging of mental toxins such as hatred and obsession that literally poison the mind. It is also about learning how to put things in perspective and reduce the gap between appearances and reality. To that end we must acquire a better knowledge of how the mind works and a more accurate insight into the nature of things, for in its deepest sense, suffering is intimately linked to a misapprehension of the nature of reality."

From Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life’s Most Important Skills, By Matthieu Ricard, 2003 NiL editions, Paris. Translation, 2006 by Jesse Browner

It bears repeating:
"Happiness is above all a love of life."

"Happiness is both the purging of mental toxins such as hatred and obsession that literally poison the mind and it is also learning how to put things in perspective and reduce the gap between appearances and reality."

And again:
Now you cannot say you do not know what happiness is. Happiness is the practice of loving life through the careful purging of toxins, through the careful gaining of perspective, and carefully moving from the appearances of all things into the reality behind them.

I have said so three times.

Orchids And Butterflies

I sit here in gray
aftermath to the heat wave,
faded heat and sky.
I listen to new
music while thinking of you
in your own summer
made of northern lights
and the urgent rhymed display,
orchids, butterflies.

July 6, 2009 2:08 PM


  1. The purging of those toxins, paramount. And what lightness follows! Acceptance figures in in a key role for me, as well, in kinship with purging and perspective.

    I'm wondering how necessary it is for those around us to live similarly for this to be successful? I'm musing on how difficult it is to feel the weight of others who don't strive for happiness in this true form. It affects me. I try to repel it, try to be an influence in some ways, but often I allow the influence to go the wrong way. This is where a great deal of work is. Always work.


  2. It is often true that those who are serious about this work turn monastic as an answer to the questions you raise. It is simply a fact that when you are in relationships that reach past certain levels of intimacy, and that is surely with lovers and children, even with good enough friends and relations, the blending of boundaries between you have you sharing fates in common. This means you no longer are entirely responsible for your own happiness even though you are no less powerless over another's changes.

    It is equally certain that this is as it should be.

    Even at the height of mastery, the highest conceived ideal has us returning and deliberately engaging such a position for the benefit of the others whom we love and at our own expenses. And when we achieve the best, then we love everyone all up and down all creation with an overwhelming compassion. Though we are free to proceed, going beyond, we deliberately turn back, freely refusing to go until the least of all the creatures here below can also go. This doesn't even somehow add a jot or tittle to our merit, it is just a chosen consequence to true loving kindness.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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