Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mindfulness and happiness

“A very smart monk wanted to be promoted to the rank of teacher. Feeling proud of his past accomplishments, the monk went to visit the temple Abbot. It was raining that day, so when he arrived; he took off his shoes and left them, along with his umbrella, at the front of the door.

The temple Abbot, knowing the character of this monk asked, "Tell me, when you removed your shoes, did you place them to the left or the right of your umbrella?"

Of course, the young monk didn't remember. When he heard that question, he realized that he still had a lot to learn. Why wasn't he paying attention to his shoes as he removed them? What was he thinking about? Why wasn't he being attentive in that moment? As far as he had traveled on the path, he still had farther to go."

Mindfulness or paying attention to all that we do, is not just about where you leave your shoes or your umbrella, it is a tool that can be used to lessen the suffering and loss that we bring into the lives of others by carelessness. We all know that accidents, problems, and catastrophes can ensue when we don't focus on what we are doing in the present moment. The Buddha said that our speech is one of the great sources of negative karma, since many times, we talk without thinking and hurt other in the process.

Even in something as trivial as a phone call, mindfulness can make a difference. Even in the distance, the other person can tell if you are interested in the conversation or tell how important you are in that moment. Can you recall that in your personal life?

Believe it or not, our ultimate goal is our never ending quest for happiness. On a subconscious level, we are continuously bargaining about what makes us happy: money, job, position, relationships, and power. We are led to believe that happiness is dependent on possessions, from outside of ourselves.

Unfortunately, we live in an instant gratification, fast food society. We don’t have time; we don’t make time to enjoy life. We make our jobs and money priority number one. Remember, we work to make money and used it is a tool to live a better life, not the other way around.

When you practice mindfulness, when you pay attention to whatever you do, you live a richer life. The food taste better, the flower smell better and the time spent with your loved ones is priceless. Because you live in the here and now, you accept yourself; you accept others and realize that happiness is a state of mind.
And we all want to be happy, right?


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