Artikelen © Diana Vernooij 2009
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Happiness or Joy

written in Nakhon Pathom, 12 april 2009 by samaneri Dhammalanchika

When I was a young girl, my brother took from his travels a tile with some wisdom on it. It said (in Italian):
All people want it,
Most people find it
Little people keep it.’

It struck me then as a great wisdom. Why do people do like that, why do they loose happiness again? Happiness is something everybody looks for in life. We find it en loose it again, find it and loose it.

Is that bad? No as long as we realise that we cannot own happiness. When we think we own it, when we think we have to try to stick to it – we have already lost it.
Do we succeed? Sometimes yes, and sometimes no. Most of the time we make it worse with our trying. We are frightened for real simple happiness, we want more, we want what the nabor has, what we think that other people have and make them happy. And when we have it and it does not satisfy us and we go on with searching and trying to get something else. It makes us egoistic and hard.
Should we stop pursuing happiness? No, we do it anyway, we cannot not pursue happiness. The whole time, in big and small activities we are trying to satisfy ourselves and make us (and the ones next to us) happy.

The thing is that it would be great if we were able to stop searching in the wrong direction. If we could see that we made ourselves unhappy by go on searching for the final solution of our unhappiness and throwing away what we have – only that would make a break. Stop searching in the wrong direction. And then even stop searching for a while. Just try to be with what there is. Feel it, examine it, taste it, smell it, be patient with it, accept it. Feel the quality of your vulnerability. Can you be passionate with it? See the way your mind is trying to get rid of your vulnerability and how that makes you unhappy.

So that is it: what we tend to do is looking for happiness with the intention to end our vulnerability. We won’t succeed. But there is another sort of happiness. Let’s call it Joy. One could call it happiness as well, but just to differentiate from the happiness of the tile above: Joy is what comes up by itself if you dare to live with your vulnerability, not trying to protect it, not making yourself hard. Whether you are happy or not, there will be Joy, if you dare to look at the things in your life and accept it. Life is precious, like the vulnerability of a rose. And when we are compassionate with the broken rose, there will be this new sort of happiness. We can call it metta or karuna, the gift of letting go of self-protection and egoism, the gift of realising the nature of the world, the vulnerability of everything, the gift of the connection with every living being. Not caught any more in pursuing and sticking on to happiness, but finding Joy in being with what is.

Diana Vernooij