Ludo was right: happiness was not to be found in the past. Not in trying to relive memories, however beguiling. It could only be experienced in this moment, here and now.
It was as if an elastic band that had been stretched to the limit suddenly let go.
Buddhists believe that acts of generosity benefit those who have died, when dedicated by people who have a close karmic connection to the deceased.
“When you take the happiness formula overall, you can see that while there are certain things that can’t be changed, there are others that can. The key focus should be on things you can change that will have a positive impact on your feeling of well-being.”
When his dark brown eyes met Serena’s, his face lit up with such warmth that the air in the room seemed to dance with joy.
“I suppose most of us think of body and mind as just this,” Serena said, gesturing toward her physical form. Yogi Tarchin nodded. “Yes. It is a tragic misunderstanding to have such self-limiting beliefs, to think that you are nothing but a bag of bones, rather than boundless consciousness; to believe that death is an ending, not a transition. Worst of all is not to realize how every action of body, speech, and mind affects your future experience of reality, even beyond this time and this life. Beliefs like these make people waste the opportunities of our very precious human life. Our minds are so much greater than this!”
“First: impermanence. Never forget: this, too, will pass. The only thing you know for sure is that however things are now, they will change. If you feel bad now, no problem. Later you will feel better. You know this is true. It has always been true, correct? And it is still true now.” They were nodding.
“Second: what is the point of worrying? If you can do something about it, fix it. If not, what is the point of worrying about it? Let go! Every minute you spend worrying, you lose sixty seconds of happiness. Don’t allow your thoughts to be like thieves, stealing your own contentment.
“Third: don’t judge. When you say ‘This is a bad thing that’s happening,’ how often are you wrong? Losing a job may be exactly what you need to start a more fulfilling career. The end of a relationship may open more possibilities than you even know exist. When it happens you think bad. Later you may think the best thing that ever happened. So don’t judge, no matter how bad it seems at the time. You may be completely wrong.” Serena, Sam, and I stared at Geshe Wangpo, transfixed. In that moment he seemed like the Buddha himself, appearing directly in our midst to tell us exactly what we most needed to hear.
“Fourth: no swamp, no lotus. The most transcendent of flowers grows out of the filth of the swamp. Suffering is like the swamp. If it makes us more humble, more able to sympathize with others and more open to them, then we become capable of transformation and of becoming truly beautiful, like the lotus.
Enduring happiness was only possible with equanimity. As long as our happiness depended on circumstances, it would be as fleeting and unreliable as the events themselves.
“There is a special wisdom about happiness,” His Holiness told me. “Some texts call it the Holy Secret. Like much wisdom, it is simple to explain but not easy to live. The Holy Secret is this: If you wish to end your suffering, seek to end the suffering of others. If you wish for happiness, seek the happiness of others. Exchanging thoughts of self for thoughts of others—this is the most effective way to be happy.”
“Thinking too much about oneself is a cause of much suffering,” the Dalai Lama said. “Anxiety, depression, resentment, fear—these become much worse with too much attention to the self. The mantra Me, me, me is not so good.”