Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Sea of Life

The Sea of Life

Real happiness does not come from an unrelenting search for peak experiences but through cultivating a constant state of mental peace.

All pleasures of the senses belong to the former category--the pleasant feeling arises, peaks and dies away--like a wave. And when they are gone, we crave for them again. This cycle repeats itself, ad infinitum. Which is why most Eastern religions preach transcendence of the senses as the key to salvation. By realising this simple fact, one's spiritual evolution is hastened a thousand fold.

There's nothing "sinful" as such about the pleasures of the senses; just that they will all be ultimately unsatisfactory, because they never last. To depend on them for lasting happiness is a sure cause of pain.

Does that mean we have to give up the world of sensuous pleasures and live like a monk?

Not necessarily so. Monks are like professional golfers--they strive for higher levels of perfection in their game. But that doesn't mean the average person cannot enjoy a regular game of golf, and perhaps even playing it well.

When we experience the world with all its joy and sadness, its pains and pleasures, we can choose to experience it with equanimity. Therein lies the key to mental peace or true happiness.

Peace of mind comes when one is completely at ease with the world--no conflicts with one's spouse, no problems with bosses, no fear of the future nor regret for the past. We accept the world as it is; we do what we can to improve things and we accept whatever outcome that arises. And we move forward, constantly.

It is the nature of the sea to have waves. When every experience in life is like a wave, you don't cling to the crests and avoid the troughs. Instead one learns to be a better swimmer by understanding the dynamics and physical characteristics of water--one accepts its nature.

One can be a better swimmer in the sea of life by adhering to these two simple principles:

1. Every pleasure or joy is a blessing. Be grateful for it. Enjoy it but don't cling to it.
2. Pain is a fact of life. Accept it. Take comfort in the fact that it too will ultimately fade away.

That way we always remain afloat, and we are constantly moving forward.

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