I Have Enough: A Spiritual Renegade’s Guide to the Good Life
(Page 5 of 7)
Of course, there are times when, even for the very luckiest of us, things aren’t OK. If you’ve just been hit by a truck, or received bad news about your health from the doctor, or just lost a loved one, things at that moment are not fine. You are in the middle of what Buddhism calls “the suffering of suffering”— unmistakable pain. You are in the disaster instead of being between disasters.
We’ll deal more with “the suffering of suffering” later, but for people like most of us, most of the time, we are in that in-between state where everything is pretty much just fine. Everything actually is OK, but we’re just discontent and unhappy anyway. We wish we were somewhere else or sometime else. We daydream nostalgically about times gone by, or, even more often, we anticipate times that have not yet come. We’re almost never content with being in the here and now.
So that’s one level of santosha. The road to happiness begins with just staying happy in the present. Which is hard—there’s no doubt about it—no matter how well things are going for us. If you don’t believe me, just try it. Just try to spend a day, even an hour or ten minutes, being content in the present place and time. We’ll return to the difficulty of “being here, now” and offer some tricks for cultivating happiness in the present later in this book.
The second kind of santosha is also difficult—maybe even more so now than ever. It is to be content with what you have. Contentment with one’s things (and also with one’s experiences—the Lonely Planet countries visited on holiday; the television shows, DVDs, and feature films watched; the sexual escapades enjoyed; and so on) has gotten even more difficult for those of us living now in the maw of unbridled consumer capitalism.
Staying content with what we have should be a lot easier for us than it seems to be most of the time. For people living unbelievably blessed lives like most of us, it is a little surprising (when we stop to think about it) and also more than a little shameful to always want even more than we already have—more consumer goods, more exotic vacations, more and better relationships, more promotions at work, more entertainment experiences.
But we also have to recognize that, at every turn, our own worst tendencies are encouraged and exacerbated. In case you haven’t noticed, the whole economic structure is arrayed to convince us that we don’t have enough. All the time and from every angle—from the television, radio, billboards, and internet ads—we are bombarded with the same message: “Don’t be satisfied. You need more.”
In order to get even the starter-kit version of happiness that is santosha, we are going to have to swim upstream from the flow of the dominant and all-pervasive forces aligned against us. A spiritual renegade should not strive to become well adjusted in a society where the economy is powered by discontent. We’re going to have to fight the power if we want to be happy. We’re going to have to resist the siren song of consumer capitalism.
Page: << Previous 1
| 5 | 6
| Next >>