Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Unfettered Joy of Being Alive

I am so grateful that I am ME.

There were times in my life when I wasn't. I wanted to be anyone else but me, or, I wanted to rewind my life to the times when I thought the person I was at a specific time was better than the person I was in that particular moment.

Today, though, I am happy to be exactly who I am, where I am, in the skin that I am living in.

This revelation occurred a short time ago, however I only truly acknowledged it this morning. (OK, it realised this just over a week ago, but was unable to enjoy it because I experienced a health challenge that quickly pushed the joy aside and I allowed myself to feel sorry for myself).

I don't live a life without struggle. The Buddha tells us that life is suffering. How we navigate that suffering is what is important. Life is never a constant run of happiness or a constant run of great sorrow. It's usually a mix between the two. Sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy. They are two sides of the same coin.

The Buddha tells us:

"We are shaped by our thoughts; we become what we think. When the mind is pure, joy follows like a shadow that never leaves."

This, I think, is what happens when we apply our Buddha Eye to how we view the world.

We all have a comment on the weather. It's either too hot or too cold. Or there's too much rain or none at all. Recently, the clouds gathered over Johannesburg and there was a lot of "Oh no, please don't let it rain. I hate the rain." The rain is necessary. It is neutral, but our feelings are not. Others were overjoyed that the rain was coming. Who was right? No one. The rain is the rain. It is what it is. We cannot change the fact that it rains, but we do have the power to change how we think about the rain.

This analogy can be applied to our lives and how we see ourselves. If we see ourselves through the eyes of Hell, our lives become Hellish. "We become what we think."

I put it down to returning to chanting more regularly.

Joy wasn't something that came easily for me. I was strongly suspicious of it, and if I am honest, then I have to admit that I still am, at times. My mother and grandmother always liked to say, "Happiness is always followed by tears. You laugh now, but later on you'll be crying." I believed them. When I found myself happy for no reason I used to panic, wondering what disaster would strike because I was happy. Somehow, my mother and grandmother's superstition made me think that if I were happy, I would be punished.

We become what we think.

So, of course, some drama or disaster immediately followed my joy. Of course it did. I believed it did. I became what I thought.

Today, though, I am living in this moment of complete unfettered joy of being alive. The joy that I am me and no one else. That I have this life, that I have this breath and that I have this moment on this planet, in this place with these people and circumstances. Even if some of those circumstances are not ideal. Even if there are health challenges and workloads and strained relationships and bills to pay, there is still joy.

I told a friend of mine once that "above the clouds, the sun still shines and above the clouds, we are all Buddhas."

Even when it rains, even when circumstances are less than ideal or even dire, we are all still Buddhas.

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