So You Want to Be Happy?

So You Want to Be Happy?

A reflection on practice by Jean Smith

According to Mahatma Gandhi, happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony. Such wise assertions often lead to our saying to ourselves, “Oh no, not another  unasked-for growth opportunity!” or “I don’t want any more spiritual challenges.” These are usually negative reactions to times in our everyday lives when we’re not in harmony. But those situations can be learning experiences and growth opportunities – even cornerstones of our spiritual life and happiness. In fact, every aspect of our lives, even the most mundane, can be part of our spiritual practice.

Let me share a very old story with you. Thousands of years ago two young men who had grown up together decided to go their separate ways in adulthood. Unknown to the younger one, the older sewed a precious jewel into the lining of the younger’s coat. Years later they met again. The older man had prospered and was doing well, but the younger had fallen on hard times, and his clothing was in tatters. The older man shocked him by showing him the hidden jewel and telling him that this wealth had always been available to him, had he but known of it. Each one of us carries such precious stones. They are sacred jewels of purity in our hearts. We need only to know that they are there and bring them to the light of our everyday life if we want this everyday life to be one of spiritual reward to ourselves and others. The “performance” of our practice is making our lives into the basis of spiritual practice, an endeavor that can lead us to freedom and happiness and a way of living that does not harm others or our world.

–© Jean Smith, Life as Spiritual Practice: Mindfulness and the Paramis, Wisdom Publications 2014

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