You are the happiness that you seek. You are always searching for happiness because you think it is a destination – not who you are!
The other day, a friend remarked that it was impossible to be happy and content in today’s world. “The state of our world and nation, and the state of our roads, are in shambles. To the extent that our lives are not in our control at all. How can one be happy when every condition around us is making us unhappy,” my friend lamented.
That’s precisely how we miss the point. If you start imposing conditions on what is, and say your happiness is subject to those conditions being fulfilled, you will forever be unhappy. You will always feel incomplete. You will be left searching for happiness – and you will never find it! To be happy, you have to do nothing. Just exercise the choice to accept whatever is, the way it is, and you will be happy!
A Zen story explains this beautifully. A man came to a Zen Master and asked, “I would like to become a Buddha.” And the Master hit him hard.
The man was puzzled. He went out and asked the Master’s disciple, “What kind of man is this? I asked such a simple question and he got so angry. He hit me hard! My cheek is still hurting. Is it wrong to ask how to become a Buddha? This man seems to be very cruel and violent!”
And the disciple laughed. He said, “You don’t understand his compassion. It is out of his compassion that he has hit you hard. And he is old, ninety years old; just think of his hand – it will be hurting more than your cheek! You are young. Think of his compassion, you fool! Go back!”
But the man asked, “But what is the message in it?”
And the disciple said: “The message is simple. If a Buddha comes and asks how to become a Buddha, what else is there to do? You can only hit him and make him aware that you are it. If a rosebush starts trying to become a rosebush, it will go mad. Because it is already the rosebush.”
So, this way, Zen teaches us that we are already the happiness, the Buddhahood, that we seek. We may have forgotten – because we have got so attached to our desires, our situations. We have started to identify with all material things and with all physical limitations. We have stopped seeing our true Self – seeing who we really are. Zen says we are in a state of slumber, we have forgotten who we are, that’s all.
Nothing has to be done about this. You have only to remember who you are! That’s where Zen comes in handy. It says stop searching. Simply be. Let things be as they are. Don’t try to control your Life or solve your complex problems which defy a human solution. When you accept things for what they are, the way they are, a peace will arise within you. That peace is what happiness is all about. When that peace becomes abundant in you, when you know how to protect that peace in the wake of everyday pulls and pressures, you experience bliss!