Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arranging Deck Chairs On The Titanic

At our weekend retreat the Saturday night Dharma talk was about happiness. Now this was pretty exciting for me because the Dharma circles I've traveled in never gave much airtime to happiness. So I was all ears, even though I was exhausted. I particularly liked the analogy that if we are looking to outside circumstances to make us happy "we are simply arranging deck chairs on the titanic". At some point it's going down. Now as Basil Faulty would say, to most Dharma practitioners this is the "bleeding obvious". But we don't always act this way. It was referred to as the "if only" syndrome. Now for me it's often, if only my health were better, if only I trusted life more. We all have our "go to" "if onlys", little fences of lists that we erect between ourselves and happiness. Mostly we hardly notice these little fences, even if we keep on bumping into them and coming back bruised and torn every time.

The Dharma talk began with something like, "the point of practice is happiness". The happiness referenced here is not the woo hoo, manic let's party, happiness or the "lets put on our rose coloured glasses and pretend everything's perfect" kind of happiness. It is a quieter state, perhaps contentment, equanimity describe it best. Happiness can be such a tricky word. And how do we approach this happiness? My recollections of the talk are most likely incomplete but it seems worth giving it a go.

Being present, being with what is, is an integral part of this happiness. We're not arguing with what is, we are not conflicted, we are just here for it. This also implies a state of relaxation, a state of relaxing into the present moment, relaxing into our bodies. When we're relaxed every cell in our body can breath a little sigh of relief. How much more complete can it be than every cell in our body? We trust in what unfolds.

Generosity towards ourselves and others is an important aspect of happiness. Generosity is a three fold gift. We feel good when we contemplate a generous act, when we actually do it, and then afterwards when we recall it. Three for the price of one, happiness is such a bargain, oi!

Sila or morality was noted as an aspect of happiness. When we behave with blamelessness we have no regrets and our actions don't come back to haunt us as in "the ghost of Christmas past" kinds of ways.

So that's the bedtime story for tonight, kids! Be happy! Be happy now!


  1. WOO-HOOO! Oh sorry... got carried away with these feelings of equanimity at your generosity.

    I'm really enjoying your dharma transmissions of the dharma talks. Thank you!


  2. Pipi, I mean Suki, you're welcome!

    108- I know I can always count on you for a heart felt WOO-HOO! Party on!

  3. as a new kid on the dharma block , i am finding these visits to your place so what i need just now ... thankyou !

  4. Thanks r! Glad to see you dropping by.

  5. That is a powerful image "arranging deck chairs on the Titanic."
    I liked your points about Happiness.
    It's always good to be reminded of what trips me along the way and how I can regain my step.

  6. I know, that image had me too! I am valuing happiness much more these days! Fun, light heartedness, making life a joyful dance! Did you ever see the movie "harold & maude"? I think I need to see that again.

  7. Living Liquidly - heh? :) Woo-Hoo!

  8. yes, just flowing along like a liquid, no boundaries of that pesky selfness! Perhaps imbibing a little liquidness?? Care to join me for a night cap!

  9. You're too funny! I didn't mean Living *that* kind of "liquidly" - but sure, why not, night cap it is :) That ought to make us *really* fluid :) LOL

  10. I knew you did mean THAT kind of liquid but my foolish streak just couldn't resist!