Sister Annabel Chan Duc’s thought-provoking memoir True Virtue: The Journey of an English Buddhist Nun is now available everywhere books are sold. https://www.parallax.org/product/true-virtue/
In our life, there is normally a good balance of happiness and suffering. But when the balance tips too much towards suffering, we try to escape. We all have the tendency to believe that there is a paradise elsewhere, where there is no suffering.
If we search our memory, we can find happy moments. When we see these, we do not fall into despair during difficulties. The seed of happiness is always there,waiting to be cultivated. If you cannot find a single moment of happiness in your life until now, then you can start today. It is never too late.
Cultivating happiness is like storing firewood for the winter. We gather and store them during autumn or summer. We do not wait until it is cold and dark.
To touch true happiness, we have to let go of “little happiness” – the things we do not really need. What we really need is a spiritual home. Most of us have the idea that “home” is somewhere, or someone. But our spiritual home does not dwell elsewhere, nor is it with someone. It is in the here and now.
We can use our conscious steps to walk into the present moment. When our body, mind, and breath are united, all the unnecessary thinking, fears stop. We can enjoy our breath and our steps. What we experience first is peace, it is a foundation for happiness.
Walking in this way, we start to live deeply. We see a leaf on the tree: how it sprouts from the tree, and at the same time nourishes the tree. It is not only the beautiful things we see, we can also look deeply into our own unpleasant feelings as we start to feel safe. When we are able to stop for a few breaths, a few steps, we start to understand the roots of our suffering. We can have many such moments of enlightenment in our daily life.
The Buddha had shown us that we can find true happiness right here. Happiness is not an individual matter. We can “borrow” the happiness of others, and we can entrust our suffering to our community.
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