Stop looking for happiness! That’s the paradox of finding true happiness.
When we stop seeking so strongly and allow life to simply unfold, a sense of humor, spaciousness, and relaxation gradually begins to emerge. Ironically, it’s all the wanting, needing, and calculating that brings about suffering in myriad forms – from frustration to disappointment to anger and despair.
The great spiritual teacher Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche exuded an extraordinary sense of warmth and playfulness fully penetrated by clarity and wisdom. When it comes to happiness, this is what he advised:
“Generally speaking, happiness or sorrow, whatever arises, see that it does not have any truth, it’s like an illusion.
When suffering comes to your heart, don’t see it with aversion. When joy comes, don’t go after it with more clinging. Both in their true nature, the state of emptiness, are the same. When they manifest as suffering, the purpose of suffering is to purify your negativity. Let this be the arousal of your compassion, the hook of renunciation. When happiness comes, without any spacial craving for it, leave it, simply in the natural state of mind.”
What does it mean to see happiness or sorrow as an “illusion”? In the midst of a dream, terror or elation seem vivid and real. But, on waking, we understand all the activities and emotions experienced in the night were just passing moments of dreamtime.
Life is like that too.
I remember how all my normal worries and anxieties were momentarily shocked away when I learned my father was dying. What I took to be so real in one moment became insignificant in the next.
Moments of happiness and moments are sorrow come streaming by. We can embrace the fullness of life, but we don’t need to latch onto every thought or emotion that suddenly appears. When we stop chasing happiness, we allow space for true happiness and freedom to arise. That’s the paradox of true happiness.
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