It takes as long as it takes before we realize that reality doesn’t work like that. ‘The universe is not answerable to my personal will’ as the saying goes – the first law of the universe in fact. So what chance have we got for finding true happiness in life? Buddhist training has the answers.
We learn how to live, not just in terms of Buddhist practice, but in all aspects of life, mostly by observing and imitating others. This is intuitive, instinctive, and it is – I’m going to say it again – not wrong, but it can go awry, for instance when the people we choose to follow don’t give us a good example. We usually model ourselves on people we like, but unfortunately people’s likeability is not always an indication of good morals. And our desire to be accepted, loved and approved of sometimes makes us turn a blind eye to the faults of those we seek to be friends with. We collude with non-preceptual speech and action by going along with it, failing to question or challenge it, and the law of karmic consequence is activated. Suffering catches up with us, inevitably. So our innocent and natural wish to feel good ends up having the opposite effect.
The lucky ones like us find that adopting the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha as that which we choose to follow, to emulate, is the way to avoid, or minimize, the mistakes we can make in this regard.
The wisdom we cultivate when bringing meditation into everything we do enables us to discern this crucial difference. We can differentiate between behaviour we find endearing, and actions which are exemplary.
I’ve always liked comedy, especially on the radio, but these days I regularly notice that there are things I hear which are smart and funny, but I wouldn’t repeat them, because they have an edge which is unpreceptual, like cynicism. We sometimes have to let clever ideas fall away rather than preserve them. This is one way I’ve found of learning to look more deeply into cause and effect and its relation to happiness. It illustrates how it is good to be aware of our every action in daily life – know in detail – learn from what we find, and act on those lessons. This is a big part of studying the truth, aiming to know reality.
Note: I was personally touched by this talk and saw the benefits others are likely to derive from visiting his words, published here on Jade over several days. Thanks to the Reverend for permission to do this. Listen to the talk.