My mother-in-law’s pet dog has been barking in distress since the first night of Lunar New Year. The reason being that the sound of the firecrackers heard from a distance was just too much for the dog to bear due to the canine’s highly sensitive ears. It has been said that dogs can hear their owners approaching from a kilometer away. Whatever it is, what is entertainment to us can be suffering for another.
An aunt of mine who has been working in a primary school canteen for the last thirty years woke up recently seeing blurriness. When she went for a checkup the doctor confirmed that she has begun to develop glaucoma. The onset was sudden without any signs of eye discomfort prior to that. Obviously, this left her worried and concerned, to the extent that she quit her job. Working in a school canteen for 30 years is quite a feat considering that her oldest customers in her early years are probably married by now and with kids of their own! Anyway, her concerns about her eyes are natural since we all have been using our eyes our entire lives and to be deprived from it can be frightening. This is another kind of suffering no one wishes to experience, yet it is not our choice when it happens.
My mum-in-law too has her fair share of unease – her scoliosis has gotten worse over the years and has taken a serious toll on her spine to the extent that even standing for a little while can be a challenge. She is aware a complete cure is non-existent except to live with the discomfort day by day. From being able to move about freely to being limited to short distances makes life pretty depressing. But that's what it is when age catches up – pain of any kind is no longer a choice.
As I observe the happenings around me, listening deeply to those I come into contact with this festive season, I could not help but realise that happiness is a rare commodity. Even my nieces and nephews have their fair share of uncertainties and challenges which are in themselves a kind of stress.
All of us want to be happy. Suffering is what we wish to avoid. As we celebrate the Lunar New Year, our wishes to another are mostly about wealth, prosperity, success – that is where we think our happiness will come from. Good health is usually last on the wishing list unless and until we are faced with the stark reality of health issues coming through ourselves or our loved ones. Otherwise, happiness is always about getting something else.
What if, happiness is directly related to suffering, instead of perceiving them as two different or separate issues? What if, suffering can be directly understood instead of by avoiding it? And what if, there is a way of facing situations, particularly pain, irrespective of what may come, and for that, happiness is the end result?
There is such a way; a way that is not outside of you but within you. And by knowing that way, a new kind of happiness can arise. It is a science of its own that can be directly realized, only by your own exploration and verification. For that, we invite you to take the first step to find out about yourself in the journey of mindfulness with right understanding.
We are certain you will learn something about yourself which you had not known before. And with that a new found, and perhaps more lasting kind of, happiness can finally start to take root.