Interesting experience the other day. My wife was away for the week and I was foraging through the clutter on her desk to look for something. When I saw all her work-related documents, busy schedule etc I was hit by a sudden rush of respect and admiration for her, love etc. And I wondered, in light of how busy she is and in the light of how eccentric I am, if she were happy. So I picked up a book that was lying nearby, called the "Book of Answer" or "Book of Questions", I forget which. It's a book where you think of a question then flip through the pages randomly and the page you land on provides the answer. (For example, let me try one now - "Will the Buddha's teaching thrive in the 21st century?" (flip, flip) and I land on "You must act now." Oh, that's a good one too!)
Anyways, that day the answer to my question "Is she happy?"/"Will she be happy?" the answer was "consider it an opportunity."
And the more I thought about it, the more I realized how true that is, for two general reasons.
First of all, human rebirth in a time where the Buddha's teaching exists is, as we know, extremely fortuitous. I think there is a sutta in which the Buddha says it is human birth that provides the best opportunity for developing understanding. This is a great opportunity, and we have earned it.
Second, the idea of happiness. We know of the eight worldly vicissitudes, the worldly conditions of gain/loss, praise/blame, fame/disrepute, pleasure/pain that are constantly buffeting us. I was thinking that while there are of course sad and happy moods implied in there, there is an opportunity to find a deeper and more lasting happiness to the extent that wisdom and patience and other wholesome characteristics develop in order to receive the worldly conditions in a way that doesn't just add to suffering. I don't think I'm referring to nibanna, and of course short of nibanna, there is nothing that isn't subjected to conditions, so technically speaking the idea of a deep and lasting happiness subject to conditions is a bit odd, but....
...it does feel to me that there is a happiness that develops in line with a wise processing of worldly conditions (which involve clinging to many things that most uninstructed worldlings take to be "happiness"), and that comes to somehow overcome or override these worldly conditions to an increasingly consistent degree, and that this is "happiness" in a Dhamma sense, and it is an opportunity for us all.( I think there is a sutta passage somehting along the line of "what the world takes to be happiness is suffering, and what we understand to be happiness would be considered miserable by the world, or something along those lines.)
Mind you, at other times I suspect that what I take to be a Dhamma-rooted happiness is just a subtler form of clinging to pleasure through the sense doors, and that it is therefore just adding to suffering in a subtle, pervasive way...
Anyways, just wanted to share that...
I hope that every time I post it will be accompanied by a wish for the wellbeing of everyone in this sangha and all beings.
(so I don't have to write "metta" every time!)
Kammalakkhano , bhikkhave, bālo, kammalakkhano pandito, apadānasobhanī paññāti
(The fool is characterized by his/her actions/the wise one is characterized by his/her actions/Wisdom shines forth in behaviour.)
(AN 3.2 Lakkhana Sutta)