Ask yourself a question: are you happy?
Not just happy when things go well but really content with your lot all the time?
If you are honest it’s not likely that you’ll be able to answer ‘yes’.
Whoever we are, our lives go up and down. There are good times, painful times and quite a lot of grey bits in between.
The Buddha called these ups and downs The Worldly Winds and he said that they constantly blow us around – and, however hard we try to control them, they are mostly beyond our control.
- We get blown from pleasant states to unpleasant states and back again. (The winds of pleasure and pain).
- We want to be popular and appreciated but often we are taken for granted. (The winds of fame and infamy).
- We acquire nice things (objects, relationships, experiences) and they make us happy but, ultimately, we lose these things too and the happiness ends and is often replaced by pain (The winds of gain and loss).
- We love being approved of and hate being criticised – but we get both (the winds of praise and blame).
Even if we try to organise our lives so that we stay with the pleasant experiences andtry to avoid the less pleasant ones, in the end, we still get both! This is what the Buddha called dukkha or suffering.
Our teacher, Sangharakshita, once said:
‘Things being constituted as they are, the objects of enjoyment disintegrate in our very grasp, as ice melts when clasped in a warm hand, and the result is suffering.
Happiness can be attained either when existence accords with our desires, or when our desires are in harmony with existence. True, the second alternative is difficult; but the first is impossible.
So if we cannot gain happiness by refashioning the world, we shall have to find it by reforming ourselves.’
So to be really content, really happy we need to stop being in conflict with the world and, instead, work towards aligning ourselves with the way things are. This may not be easy at first but the good news is that, if we do this, we really can find a true and enduring sense of peace and contentment amidst all the Worldly Winds.
The Buddha knew how to put this right and his very practical teaching helps us to to be content, even when the Worldly Winds are blowing a gale.
If you would like to know more, York Buddhist Group runs regular Newcomer’s classes which explore these Worldly Winds and look at the way that we can learn to live with contentment – whether it is sunny or stormy. The next class is in October and you can book now.
More details here: yorkbuddhistgroup.com/newcomers-courses/