The Zen of Happiness

Often in Buddhism and other spiritual teachings they speak of desire and the need to remove it. There is a belief that desire is the root of suffering. And that often the best way to remove desire is to either remove the object of desire (for example an attractive man or woman) or remove the desire you feel within yourself. This is a superficial approach at best for it: a) does not accept that human beings naturally feel desire b) does not address the real problem, that of mental attachment to desire.

For example, an attractive man or woman walks down the street and you feel desire towards this person. The desire feels good in your body and so don’t want it to go away. In reality that  person has already walked by but your mind has already attached to the idea of that person. It then begins replaying the memory of the person over and over again in your head to keep you feeling good inside. This is attachment.

But sooner or later you are going to realize that the attractive man or woman who walked down the street is no longer there. And when that happens the blissful bubble will burst. And when it does all those good feelings disappear. Then there is no bliss, no endorphins and no escape from your reality. What you’re left with is simply you, with the depression and negative thoughts that often follow from being caught in an illusion for so long.

And so when the Buddha uttered the fateful words, “Everything changes.” He was really saying: “Do not attach to what has just gone by. Things are always falling away and new things are always arriving.

It is the mind that attaches to things, looking for a way to keep you constantly striving.  But ideally we want to let go of those thoughts and simply be here now. Instead of constantly looking, we experience what arrives and let it go when it leaves.

Of course I make this sound easy. It’s a question of surrender and trust. Let all experiences move through you. Have the experience and move on. Like undulating waves on the ocean, experiences are the same, one arrives then it subsides and another one arrives and then subsides.

A key aspect of not attaching is not reacting to these waves. One does this by staying calm and letting life move through you. Allowing experiences to happen.

*On a side note this does not mean letting somebody do something to you that is inappropriate (e.g. abusive). It simply means letting experiences move through you, learning from them, releasing and acting appropriately.

Appreciate what is arriving but do not attach to it. Take time to simply relax and allow things to happen. If your mind continues to play over a deep seated desire then look at the experience and determine why that desire keeps coming up. What is missing in your life that continues to trigger it? Then let the experience go. Let it all go. And see what happens.

Allow it all to arrive and be dealt with easily. And then you have mastered desire.  You are appreciating everything the world has to offer, dropping experiences as they pass and finding more along the way.


On the road to enlightenment, all hurdles are simply pillows that you fall into.

Heron Free