As the media hunts desperately for some way of refuting the charge that they are stoking up the economic crisis, and the accompanying anxiety, alarm and despair, I thought I’d try something a bit more traditional.
On my desk at work is a Thorson’s pocket edition of some of the Dalai Lama’s writings, and I sometimes open it at random, in the way rural communities used to use their Bibles. The results are never less than interesting, and sometimes strikingly appropriate – unsurprisingly, as this is a form of dowsing “Please give me what I need”. Today I found myself reading a passage which contained the following
…No matter how forceful [suffering and anxiety] is, it cannot destroy the supreme source of my happiness, which is my calmness of mind. This is something an external enemy cannot destroy. Our country can be invaded, our possessions can be destroyed, our friends can be killed, but these are secondary for our mental happiness….
He goes on to say that the ultimate source of mental happiness is a person’s peace of mind, and the only thing which can destroy that is their anger – very Buddhist, yes, and it takes a lot more detachment than many of us have (me included) to achieve that level of serenity. The Christian approach is God-centred – external but not of this world: my Bible similarly opened at random came up with “I will mention the loving kindnesses of the Lord…in all their affliction he was afflicted…and he bare them and carried them all the days of old” (Isaiah chapter 63). Or if u knowz Lolcat , hooz God is Ceilin(g) Cat:
Im gonna tell ov teh kindnesez ov the lord…In all their distres he 2 wuz distresd…He liftd them up an carrid them All the dais ov old…”
But whatever you feed it with, my instincts are that the mechanism for happiness is internal, which is by no means confined to Buddhism. My personal anthology also contains a Wiccan tenet that I wrote there many years ago:
If ye find it not within, so ye shall find it not without.