I look around and see miracles. I look around and see Heaven. I look around and see the Garden and the Playground. I look around and see the Divine Presence everywhere, all around me, and in me. I am part of the whole. Actually I am not a part; I am the Whole. I am
I don’t exist isolated. Separation is an illusion. I am not this little, unconnected, and detached being that I thought I was. I am the Whole. I am
Only One exists. I am the Universe. I am the Immense One. I am the Whole. I am holy. I am
Soon after I published An Epiphany of Oneness, my good friend, Penelope, sent me a message. Here’s our exchange:
Penelope — “OMG Piero, again your extra-ordinary experience of being one with God, the Universe…that must happen to so few beings in the world…what a gift…thank you for sharing.”
Piero — Dear Penelope, Thank you for your kind words. It was indeed a very powerful and beautiful experience of oneness. I can’t deny it, and I don’t want to diminish its impact on me. But I don’t deserve the compliment. I don’t believe I am in any way special. I believe that all of us can have the mystical experience of oneness, because it is a gift that is available to all of us. Please, pause for a moment and reflect on these words of Thomas Keating: “The gift of God is absolutely gratuitous. It is not something you earn. It is something that is there. It is something that you just have to accept. This is a gift that has been given.There’s no place to go to get it. There’s no place you can go to avoid it. It just is. It is part of our very existence. And so, the purpose of all great religions is to bring us into this relationship with reality that is so intimate that no word can possibly describe it.”
Wow! An intimate relationship with reality! An intimate relationship with the Divine! That’s what it is! His words are so precise! I believe that we should focus our energy in seeing the Divine around us and in us. (I think about my book Pay Attention! Be Alert! and ponder, “Why have I decided to give it this title?” I, now, recognize that I was guided to do so because to pay attention and to be alert is of the utmost importance to connect, communicate and commune with the Divine. I believe that divine guidance and inspiration is available to all of us, especially to those who adopt the practice of living mindfully.)
I am sure, Penelope, that you have already experienced the I Am, otherwise my writings wouldn’t touch you the way you tell me they do. It is not that I have been chosen, or that just a few have been chosen… We all have been chosen!The I Am experience is available to all of us.
Again, take a look at what Thomas Keating has to say: “Our project is not just to become a better human being, as desirable as that would be for our friends and relatives, but it is to become a divine human being, or to learn how to live the human life in a divine way. The project is the transformation of individuals and, at some point, of the whole human family.”
I believe, as he does, that our job on this Earth is “to learn how to live the human life in a divine way.” Think about what he said:“The project is the transformation of individuals and, at some point, of the whole human family.”Isn’t that profound?
Please, help me spread the following idea:
In order for the world to radically change for the better, we need more evolved beings, and in order for their numbers to grow we need to demystify the current belief that enlightenment is hard and can only be achieved by a few gifted individuals. We need to disseminate the idea that awakening and expanded awareness is at hand. We need to encourage everyone to engage in in the practice of silent observation, meditation, mindful living, or any other similar discipline that may lead them to attain that new consciousness that will not only allow them to experience Heaven, but that will also enlist them in the work of revealing Heaven right here on Earth. ~ Piero
Thank you for communicating with me, Penelope, my friend. You bring light and optimism to my days. May God bless you abundantly.
I invite you to watch the trailer of the documentary “Thomas Keating: A Rising Tide of Silence”
Appreciate the Magic, the Mystery and the Miracles. Appreciate this adventure we call Life, and do not deny its reality. Meditate on the Five Remembrances and rediscover the magic of life just as it is.
1. I am of the nature to grow old. There is no way to escape growing old.
2. I am of the nature to have ill health. There is no way to escape having ill health.
3. I am of the nature to die. There is no way to escape death.
4. All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them.
5. My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.
The Upajjhatthana Sutta (“Subjects for Contemplation”) is a Buddhist discourse (Pali: sutta; Skt.: sutra) famous for its inclusion of five remembrances, five facts regarding life’s fragility and our true inheritance. The discourse advises that these facts are to be reflected upon often by all. According to this discourse, contemplation of these facts leads to the abandonment of destructive attachments and actions and to the cultivation of factors necessary for Enlightenment. ~ Upajjhatthana Sutta article in Wikipedia
What we see in politics is a reflection of who we are.
We are immersed in a culture of selfishness, greed, separation, isolation, exclusion, competition and pursuit of power, and as long as we remain in it, it will be very difficult to reach more humane political solutions for our problems.
What should we do, then?
We need to work on our own selves, transform ourselves, and experience the heavenly sense of oneness that infuses us with the knowing that our destiny is a common one, and that the ultimate goal of our existences is solidarity, cooperation, unity and peace.
We need to realize that we are here to connect, communicate and commune with others, not to separate, compete, and isolate ourselves from others. We have to understand that we are here to bring the pieces together, and restore to wholeness what once was whole but is now broken. We have to realize that we are here to help one another, and to live by the values of civility, mutual support, and care for all beings and the entire planet. We must understand that it is only when we grow in selflessness, kindness and compassion — and live our lives guided by such feelings, values and principles — that we will be able to manifest leaders and governments that will practice them.
The truth is that the world is an expression of who we are, and in order for us to manifest a better world, we must better ourselves first. More enlightened ways of organizing ourselves to live in society will spontaneously emerge when we change the prevailing ideas that dominate our thinking. A better world will come forth into existence when a vast number of individuals reach that deep-rooted conviction that generosity is better than greed, cooperation is better than competition, inclusion is better than exclusion, and compassion is better than mercilessness and indifference. When the number of such individuals grows, we will reach that critical mass that will tip the scale and bring about the desired change.
We need to change the ideas that currently prevail in our culture in order to bring about a new world. Inner work will allow us to go beyond the ego-consciousness and the group-consciousness, and reach that level of mystical-consciousness where we don’t see ourselves separated from others anymore. Then we will not give in to the demands of our own egos and of the groups we belong to. We will not feel inclined to fight, compete and conquer. We will not feel obligated to do those things we know to be harmful to others — and to ourselves — and that our egos and our clans, tribes, parties, churches and nations demand from us.
It is by going through deep mystical experiences — the ones that make us realize our oneness, interconnection, interdependence, and inter-existence — that all the insanity that surrounds us will become evident. It is by having those epiphanies of our oneness that we will gain the strength to calmly leave all this competitive madness behind. It is by experiencing those awakenings, that we will be blessed with a clear consciousness that will guide us to think, say and do only those things that harm no one and benefit everyone.
So, the inner work we do to better ourselves is serious political work with a vast reach, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. This inner work is real activism, the one that changes views, ideas and beliefs, and that will bring about a new consciousness and with it a new political leadership, and new political systems that will change the world and the lives of all who live in it for the better.
So, work on your own self, and move, as much as possible, maybe a little bit everyday, away from selfishness and closer to selflessness. Practice and teach kindness. Teach all children to be gentle, compassionate and caring. Investigate your beliefs and get rid of your prejudices. Guide others on the path that leads to their personal awakening and enlightenment, therefore creating opportunities for them to experience oneness. Foster communication and cooperation. Be peaceful and bless the world with your peace. Transform yourself, help others transform themselves, and, by doing so, transform the world.
Now that we have reached the end of this political season, let us use this opportunity to pause and reflect. May all we have noticed in ourselves and in others — everything that we have heard and said, everything we did and saw others doing, everything that we felt and made others feel — be enough to convince us that the most important thing any of us can do to make this process better is to work on our own selves. May the insanity and absurdities of these political farces awaken in us the conscience of the need to work to change our own selves.
“It all starts in our own hearts. Changing our hearts is where it all starts” ~ Elizabeth Velez
Is material success an essential component of happiness?
So many famous and successful people, one after the other, tell us that once they got to the summit — once they achieved fame, wealth and material success — they were disappointed. Success didn’t satisfy them the way they thought it would. It did not feed their souls. At their core, things didn’t change. They didn’t feel any different. They still felt empty and unsatisfied. Some, in fact, felt worse, more miserable than ever.
We are fed this myth that if we work hard we will achieve fame, wealth and material success, and that once we get these things we will be happy. So, from a tender age, we are pushed into the competitive arena. We put ourselves in motion to compete and prove to the world that we are better than others. In this process, we separate ourselves from others — we isolate ourselves — and this isolation brings about pain and suffering.
No matter how rich and famous some may be, and no matter how many people they may be surrounded with, they still feel lonely. In the end, they feel angry, feeling that they have been deceived, that they have been told a big lie, and that they have sacrificed themselves and wasted their lives pursuing the wrong things.
“I had everything a man could want. I was a millionaire. I had beautiful women in my life. I had cars, a house, an incredible, solid-gold career, and a future, and yet, on a daily basis, I wanted to commit suicide.” ~ Eric Clapton
“As a Beatle, we made it. And there was nothing to do. We had money, we had fame, and there was no joy.” ~ John Lennon
It is about time we learn this lesson once and for all: Fame, wealth and material success do not automatically bring about happiness. We will never find happiness in those things alone.
So, if wealth isn’t the answer, what is?
Material success is neutral to happiness; it is neither good, nor bad. Both rich and poor individuals may be happy, or not. Wealth and poverty are external conditions, but happiness in an internal one; it comes from the inside.
So, again: if wealth isn’t the answer, what is?
We begin to get closer to the answer when we go inside ourselves and inquire, “Who am I ? Where did I come from? What am I doing here? What was I brought here to do? What do I love? What makes me happy? What makes me come alive? What gifts do I bring to share with the family of the Earth? How can I alleviate someone else’s suffering? How shall I live, knowing that I will die? Where am I going?”
We enhance our happiness when we start living more mindfully.
Work on yourself.
Sit still and listen to your inner voice.
Be true to yourself.
Do what makes you come alive.
Do what you like and like what you do.
Let go of the need to win.
“I don’t believe we are these miserable animals wired to maximize self-interest. I think that actually goes against our nature and causes us a lot of pain.” ~ Josh Radnor
“… [It is] an insane philosophy: ‘gotta keep everybody separated, gotta compete against each other, whoever is the winner gets the toys and the spoils…’ and I believe you guys are in a culture that is depressing your authenticity, your creativity, it’s putting you against each other, and it’s up to you guys to birth a new culture.” ~ Tom Shadyak
A conversation between George Harrison and Olivia, his wife, as she remembers it…
Olivia – “They want to give you this award.”
George – “I don’t want it. I am not going.”
Olivia — “You should go. It’s a nice thing they are doing.”
George — “If you want it, you go. I won’t. I don’t do this anymore.”
Olivia (commenting on the conversation) — “He wanted to be in the garden, making it more beautiful. He wanted to use his time to meditate. He wasn’t into collecting awards for his obituary.”
Differently from the majority of people, George had experienced immense earthly success already at an young age with the Beatles, and he realized that fame and fortune didn’t make him happy. He said, “I got fame and fortune, and I saw that it wasn’t it.”
We are told to strive, work hard, compete, struggle, sacrifice ourselves, and make every effort to produce results and be successful in the eyes of the world. We are told to achieve great goals, to leave our mark. We are told to leave a legacy. We are told that material success will make us happy. We are, then, seduced by the sirens of fame and fortune. We want to be remembered. We want, in some way, to be immortal. We want power and prestige, and we envy those who have them. We rationalize that the reason for our lack of happiness is because we haven’t been able to become rich and famous yet. But what about those who are rich and famous, and whose material success did not make them happier as they were promised it would? How do they feel? Don’t they feel disappointed and deceived?
The idea that fame, fortune and material success automatically bring about happiness, is a myth, and it is about time we unmask this deception, and stop, once and for all, propagating this illusion.
The way to be happy is to be content and grateful. But we live in an environment that keeps telling us that we cannot settle, that we must have more, do more and be more. The culture we are immersed in is constantly creating desires, convincing us that we need things that actually we don’t need. It creates in us a state of lack of satisfaction, of discontentment. It tells us that we are not enough, that we need to acquire more, do more, in order to be more.
The monk does not need new clothes to wear, or new pots to cook. He wears his old robe and cooks in his old pot, and he is just fine.
The truth is that we give ourselves too much importance. We have to remember that everything is impermanent, and that, sooner or later, we will return from wherever we came from. Every now and then, we should look at our belly buttons, see ourselves as mere fruits, and humble ourselves.
Maybe, the most important thing we have to learn during our lives is to learn how to die. We have to prepare ourselves for the transition, the moment of physical death. And in order for that transition to be peaceful, we have to be ready to let go of all the earthly things, all belongings, all fame and fortune. We have to let go of the desire to leave our mark on this physical world.
And while alive, all we have to do is to live mindfully, making the best of every present moment, while constantly reminding ourselves that although in the physical dimension we are impermanent, in spiritual one we are eternal.
In conclusion, I would like briefly to expand my thoughts beyond the topic of this short piece and make a wider point: individual happiness can contribute in a profound and effective way to the overall improvement of our entire human community.
Because we all share an identical need for love, it is possible to feel that anybody we meet, in whatever circumstances, is a brother or sister. No matter how new the face or how different the dress and behavior, there is no significant division between us and other people. It is foolish to dwell on external differences, because our basic natures are the same.
Ultimately, humanity is one and this small planet is our only home. If we are to protect this home of ours, each of us needs to experience a vivid sense of universal altruism. It is only this feeling that can remove the self-centered motives that cause people to deceive and misuse one another.
If you have a sincere and open heart, you naturally feel self- worth and confidence, and there is no need to be fearful of others.
I believe that at every level of society – familial, tribal, national and international – the key to a happier and more successful world is the growth of compassion. We do not need to become religious, nor do we need to believe in an ideology. All that is necessary is for each of us to develop our good human qualities.
I try to treat whoever I meet as an old friend. This gives me a genuine feeling of happiness. It is the practice of compassion.
Friends and enemies
I must emphasize again that merely thinking that compassion and reason and patience are good will not be enough to develop them. We must wait for difficulties to arise and then attempt to practice them.
And who creates such opportunities? Not our friends, of course, but our enemies. They are the ones who give us the most trouble. So, if we truly wish to learn, we should consider enemies to be our best teachers!
For a person who cherishes compassion and love, the practice of tolerance is essential, and for that, an enemy is indispensable. So we should feel grateful to our enemies, for it is they who can best help us develop a tranquil mind! Also, it is often the case in both personal and public life, that with a change in circumstances, enemies become friends.
So anger and hatred are always harmful, and unless we train our minds and work to reduce their negative force, they will continue to disturb us and disrupt our attempts to develop a calm mind. Anger and hatred are our real enemies. These are the forces we most need to confront and defeat, not the temporary enemies who appear intermittently throughout life.
Of course, it is natural and right that we all want friends. I often joke that if you really want to be selfish, you should be very altruistic! You should take good care of others, be concerned for their welfare, help them, serve them, make more friends, make more smiles, The result? When you yourself need help, you find plenty of helpers! If, on the other hand, you neglect the happiness of others, in the long term you will be the loser. And is friendship produced through quarrels and anger, jealousy and intense competitiveness? I do not think so. Only affection brings us genuine close friends.
In today’s materialistic society, if you have money and power, you seem to have many friends. But they are not friends of yours; they are the friends of your money and power. When you lose your wealth and influence, you will find it very difficult to track these people down.
The trouble is that when things in the world go well for us, we become confident that we can manage by ourselves and feel we do not need friends, but as our status and health decline, we quickly realize how wrong we were. That is the moment when we learn who is really helpful and who is completely useless. So to prepare for that moment, to make genuine friends who will help us when the need arises, we ourselves must cultivate altruism!
Though sometimes people laugh when I say it, I myself always want more friends. I love smiles. Because of this I have the problem of knowing how to make more friends and how to get more smiles, in particular, genuine smiles. For there are many kinds of smile, such as sarcastic, artificial, or diplomatic smiles. Many smiles produce no feeling of satisfaction, and sometimes they can even create suspicion or fear, can’t they? But a genuine smile really gives us a feeling of freshness and is, I believe, unique to human beings. If these are the smiles we want, then we ourselves must create the reasons for them to appear.
How can we start
We should begin by removing the greatest hindrances to compassion: anger and hatred. As we all know, these are extremely powerful emotions and they can overwhelm our entire mind. Nevertheless, they can be controlled. If, however, they are not, these negative emotions will plague us – with no extra effort on their part! – and impede our quest for the happiness of a loving mind.
So as a start, it is useful to investigate whether or not anger is of value. Sometimes, when we are discouraged by a difficult situation, anger does seem helpful, appearing to bring with it more energy, confidence and determination.
Here, though, we must examine our mental state carefully. While it is true that anger brings extra energy, if we explore the nature of this energy, we discover that it is blind: we cannot be sure whether its result will be positive or negative. This is because anger eclipses the best part of our brain: its rationality. So the energy of anger is almost always unreliable. It can cause an immense amount of destructive, unfortunate behavior. Moreover, if anger increases to the extreme, one becomes like a mad person, acting in ways that are as damaging to oneself as they are to others.
It is possible, however, to develop an equally forceful but far more controlled energy with which to handle difficult situations.
This controlled energy comes not only from a compassionate attitude, but also from reason and patience. These are the most powerful antidotes to anger. Unfortunately, many people misjudge these qualities as signs of weakness. I believe the opposite to be true: that they are the true signs of inner strength. Compassion is by nature gentle, peaceful and soft, but it is very powerful. It is those who easily lose their patience who are insecure and unstable. Thus, to me, the arousal of anger is a direct sign of weakness.
So, when a problem first arises, try to remain humble and maintain a sincere attitude and be concerned that the outcome is fair. Of course, others may try to take advantage of you, and if your remaining detached only encourages unjust aggression, adopt a strong stand, This, however, should be done with compassion, and if it is necessary to express your views and take strong countermeasures, do so without anger or ill-intent.
You should realize that even though your opponents appear to be harming you, in the end, their destructive activity will damage only themselves. In order to check your own selfish impulse to retaliate, you should recall your desire to practice compassion and assume responsibility for helping prevent the other person from suffering the consequences of his or her acts.
Thus, because the measures you employ have been calmly chosen, they will be more effective, more accurate and more forceful. Retaliation based on the blind energy of anger seldom hits the target.
Some of my friends have told me that, while love and compassion are marvelous and good, they are not really very relevant. Our world, they say, is not a place where such beliefs have much influence or power. They claim that anger and hatred are so much a part of human nature that humanity will always be dominated by them. I do not agree.
We humans have existed in our present form for about a hundred-thousand years. I believe that if during this time the human mind had been primarily controlled by anger and hatred, our overall population would have decreased. But today, despite all our wars, we find that the human population is greater than ever. This clearly indicates to me that love and compassion predominate in the world. And this is why unpleasant events are news, compassionate activities are so much part of daily life that they are taken for granted and, therefore, largely ignored.
So far I have been discussing mainly the mental benefits of compassion, but it contributes to good physical health as well. According to my personal experience, mental stability and physical well-being are directly related. Without question, anger and agitation make us more susceptible to illness. On the other hand, if the mind is tranquil and occupied with positive thoughts, the body will not easily fall prey to disease.
But of course it is also true that we all have an innate self-centeredness that inhibits our love for others. So, since we desire the true happiness that is brought about by only a calm mind, and since such peace of mind is brought about by only a compassionate attitude, how can we develop this? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to think about how nice compassion is! We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior.
First of all, we must be clear about what we mean by compassion. Many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment. For instance, the love parents feel of their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate. Again, in marriage, the love between husband and wife – particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s deeper character very well – depends more on attachment than genuine love. Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears to be good, when in fact he or she is very negative. In addition, we have a tendency to exaggerate small positive qualities. Thus when one partner’s attitude changes, the other partner is often disappointed and his or her attitude changes too. This is an indication that love has been motivated more by personal need than by genuine care for the other individual.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Therefore, a truly compassionate attitude towards others does not change even if they behave negatively.
Of course, developing this kind of compassion is not at all easy! As a start, let us consider the following facts:
Whether people are beautiful and friendly or unattractive and disruptive, ultimately they are human beings, just like oneself.
Like oneself, they want happiness and do not want suffering.
Furthermore, their right to overcome suffering and be happy is equal to one’s own.
Now, when you recognize that all beings are equal in both their desire for happiness and their right to obtain it, you automatically feel empathy and closeness for them. Through accustoming your mind to this sense of universal altruism, you develop a feeling of responsibility for others: the wish to help them actively overcome their problems. Nor is this wish selective; it applies equally to all. As long as they are human beings experiencing pleasure and pain just as you do, there is no logical basis to discriminate between them or to alter your concern for them if they behave negatively.
Let me emphasize that it is within your power, given patience and time, to develop this kind of compassion. Of course, our self-centeredness, our distinctive attachment to the feeling of an independent, self-existent “I” works fundamentally to inhibit our compassion. Indeed, true compassion can be experienced only when this type of self- grasping is eliminated. But this does not mean that we cannot start and make progress now.
Our need for love
Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another. However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must depend on the support of others.
Inter-dependence, of course, is a fundamental law of nature. Not only higher forms of life but also many of the smallest insects are social beings who, without any religion, law or education, survive by mutual cooperation based on an innate recognition of their interconnectedness. The most subtle level of material phenomena is also governed by interdependence. All phenomena from the planet we inhabit to the oceans, clouds, forests and flowers that surround us, arise in dependence upon subtle patterns of energy. Without their proper interaction, they dissolve and decay.
It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence. Therefore we need a genuine sense of responsibility and a sincere concern for the welfare of others.
We have to consider what we human beings really are. We are not like machine-made objects. If we are merely mechanical entities, then machines themselves could alleviate all of our sufferings and fulfill our needs.
However, since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. Instead, we should consider our origins and nature to discover what we require.
Leaving aside the complex question of the creation and evolution of our universe, we can at least agree that each of us is the product of our own parents. In general, our conception took place not just in the context of sexual desire but from our parents’ decision to have a child. Such decisions are founded on responsibility and altruism – the parents compassionate commitment to care of their child until it is able to take care of itself. Thus, from the very moment of our conception, our parents’ love is directly in our creation.
Moreover, we are completely dependent upon our mothers’ care from the earliest stages of our growth. According to some scientists, a pregnant woman’s mental state, be it calm or agitated, has a direct physical effect on her unborn child.
The expression of love is also very important at the time of birth. Since the very first thing we do is suck milk from our mothers’ breast, we naturally feel close to her, and she must feel love for us in order to feed us properly; if she feels anger or resentment her milk may not flow freely.
Then there is the critical period of brain development from the time of birth up to at least the age of three or four, during which time loving physical contact is the single most important factor for the normal growth of the child. If the child is not held, hugged, cuddled, or loved, its development will be impaired and its brain will not mature properly.
Since a child cannot survive without the care of others, love is its most important nourishment. The happiness of childhood, the allaying of the child’s many fears and the healthy development of its self-confidence all depend directly upon love.
Nowadays, many children grow up in unhappy homes. If they do not receive proper affection, in later life they will rarely love their parents and, not infrequently, will find it hard to love others. This is very sad.
As children grow older and enter school, their need for support must be met by their teachers. If a teacher not only imparts academic education but also assumes responsibility for preparing students for life, his or her pupils will feel trust and respect and what has been taught will leave an indelible impression on their minds. On the other hand, subjects taught by a teacher who does not show true concern for his or her students’ overall well-being will be regarded as temporary and not retained for long.
Similarly, if one is sick and being treated in hospital by a doctor who evinces a warm human feeling, one feels at ease and the doctors’ desire to give the best possible care is itself curative, irrespective of the degree of his or her technical skill. On the other hand, if one’s doctor lacks human feeling and displays an unfriendly expression, impatience or casual disregard, one will feel anxious, even if he or she is the most highly qualified doctor and the disease has been correctly diagnosed and the right medication prescribed. Inevitably, patients’ feelings make a difference to the quality and completeness of their recovery.
Even when we engage in ordinary conversation in everyday life, if someone speaks with human feeling we enjoy listening, and respond accordingly; the whole conversation becomes interesting, however unimportant the topic may be. On the other hand, if a person speaks coldly or harshly, we feel uneasy and wish for a quick end to the interaction. From the least to the most important event, the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.
Recently I met a group of scientists in America who said that the rate of mental illness in their country was quite high-around twelve percent of the population. It became clear during our discussion that the main cause of depression was not a lack of material necessities but a deprivation of the affection of the others.
So, as you can see from everything I have written so far, one thing seems clear to me: whether or not we are consciously aware of it, from the day we are born, the need for human affection is in our very blood. Even if the affection comes from an animal or someone we would normally consider an enemy, both children and adults will naturally gravitate towards it.
I believe that no one is born free from the need for love. And this demonstrates that, although some modern schools of thought seek to do so, human beings cannot be defined as solely physical. No material object, however beautiful or valuable, can make us feel loved, because our deeper identity and true character lie in the subjective nature of the mind.
How to achieve happiness
For a start, it is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical. Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us. Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life. If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace.
From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.
As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but every one who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!
Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others’ suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.
The purpose of life
One great question underlies our experience, whether we think about it consciously or not: What is the purpose of life? I have considered this question and would like to share my thoughts in the hope that they may be of direct, practical benefit to those who read them.
I believe that the purpose of life is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Neither social conditioning nor education nor ideology affect this. From the very core of our being, we simply desire contentment. I don’t know whether the universe, with its countless galaxies, stars and planets, has a deeper meaning or not, but at the very least, it is clear that we humans who live on this earth face the task of making a happy life for ourselves. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.