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Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happiness and humility

Posted on Happy Minds!

A lot of stress comes from feeling that you really should have had something, but somehow you didn't get it. It applies to all sorts of things, relationships, cloths, jobs, the list is endless.
For example, that special guy you really liked. Or the girl whom was smiling so sweetly. What always seems to happen? Your best friend, who didn't even really like that person, steps in and gets what you should have had. And then isn't even happy with it!
Buddha Siddhartha Gautama explained how this is not just one of the downsides of life, it is something much more fundamental. He explained this in the four noble truths:
People suffer because their minds are not at ease. Their minds are not at ease because they constantly want things that are not possible. They want to be somewhere they are not, or they want what they have to last forever. Wanting things to be perfect all the time causes suffering. So, suffering is caused by wanting things. So isn't it logical, that in order to end suffering, you have to ease down on the part of wanting things?
Buddha proposed a lifestyle that helps easing the pain. A lifestyle based on some simple rules. He called this the eightfold path, what comes down to putting down some simple guidelines that one can follow in order to reduce the painful craving.
You can find many websites explaining the eightfold path, and I don´t want to add yet another repetition to all that. What I would like, is to give you a hand in how to step into the eight noble truths in such a way that they do not feel like yet another harness that restrains your freedom and therefore can only decrease your well being.
I think the key is to start with a little humility. It is very simple really. Humility means being humble. It means leaving the possibility open that you are not all that great as you think you are. That you are not that successful person as you present yourself to the outside world. That deep down inside, like everybody else, you do not have a clue about who you are, what life really is, what it means to get born and what it means to die. That really you do not have so much control over your anger, your lust, your jealousy and pride. It sometimes seems to rule your life, and deep down, that is really not how you want it. Maybe deep down really you want to be a person that is loved, praised by all as the best friend one could have, deep down you want to be seen as the solution to human suffering. But in reality it seems you couldn't be further from that then you are know, isn't it?
Well, if you allow yourself to stay with the discomfort these doubts - that are inherent to the human condition – cause in your mind, then all of a sudden humility does seem to make a little more sense, doesn't it? If you are not all that great, then maybe you shouldn't be wanting all those things all the time. Maybe it would be much more sensible to spend more time on giving in stead of wanting. Because in the end, if you want to be that loving person, that friend that everybody wants to have, there should be cause for that to happen! And that cause can only be that you become that person that you really want to be in reality! And since wanting things all the time and being displeased with what you do not have all time really does not seem to be the answer, maybe you should try to let that go a little bit.
With a mind opened by a little healthy doubt, a little humility caused by admitting what really goes on in your life, I think the eightfold path as laid down by the Buddha, makes a lot more sense. It is not a harness. It is actually a very gentle, peaceful way of letting go of all your painful craving. Buddha has said that if one gradually, that means step by step, bit by bit, enters the eightfold path, then all human suffering (so all human craving) will cease.
Hope this makes a little sense to you!

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