Happiness v Suffering: where do we begin?
Sometimes it seems that Science and Theology are at odds with each other when it comes to happiness. Let’s look at three things that may resolve a little of that difference.
Gestalt psychology “is an attempt to understand the laws behind the ability to acquire and maintain meaningful perceptions in an apparently chaotic world” (Wikipedia). Therefore, this is a significant example of religion and science at least having the same objective.
I have seen a therapist every month, took my anti-depressants every night, prayed and meditated, and gone to lots of meetings since my last alcoholic beverage. Along the way, I have been given the blessing of helping others start and maintain a sober life – as they say, “…trudge the road of happy destiny”.
I am getting well, but not recovered.
Along the way, I found a Buddhist teacher who alerted me to the thinking that caused all my suffering. What a gift! It turns out that ‘I’ was the cause of all my unhappiness and I could also fix it.
“All the happiness there is in this world
Arises from wishing others to be happy
And all the suffering there is in this world
Arises from wishing ourself to be happy.”
Shantideva: The Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of Life
I discovered that the guidelines in Bill Wilson’s ‘Big Book’ and the teachings of Buddha had a significant correlation and had a major effect on me as a person – me as an alcoholic.
In Shantideva’s Guide to The Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, we learn many things about human nature and most importantly how to be happy. I was always attracted by Buddha’s claim that a happy mind is a peaceful mind, and Shantideva shows us how.
Cherish was a big hit for David Cassidy in the ’70’s and whilst it’s almost impossible for me to think of the word without humming the Cassidy tune, I equate the word to the verb, ‘Love’. (Also a song, by John Mayer!)
Being Ash Wednesday and Valentines Day today is an opportune time to remember not only the teachings of Shantideva and Bill Wilson but John’s Gospel. Jesus said, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you.”
“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you.”
The great thing about finding out that I’M the problem, is that if it’s the government, my boss, my wife, my parents or the world fricking whole, then I can’t fix the problem!
If I can improve my thinking by ‘Training the Mind’, or through prayer and meditation, or by working with others, then there is a major chance that I can recover ‘from a seemingly hopeless state of body and mind’, such is alcoholism.
My suggestion to people who are in the grips of addiction is to start studying the masters who have taught about love. The love of others is the greatest secret to a happy life that I know of. It becomes more mysterious and more marvelous every day.
I am a beginner – a child – in love of others, in happiness and in recovery. Happy whatever day you are celebrating with your loved ones.