The unending source of happiness at your fingertips
Last night I figured I would watch a video so through Netflix I picked an old Japanese movie Oneida. Liking old Japanese movies and not knowing Japanese I just launched into it not knowing what it was about. Turns out it was about two Japanese women killing a lost Samurai to sell their gear to buy rice. The title meant Demon Woman. Watching this movie right before bed really did a job on my sleep.
The next morning I went out for tea and at the table next to me two men and two women were talking loudly, “Let me tell you the worst of it… her husband was diagnosed with cancer and two weeks later her cat dies…” and something else I can’t remember, but equally painful. Of course, difficult things happen to people, but I couldn’t help but notice how they were drooling over the conversation topic like a tasty morsel saved up to share.
Then I figured I would read the paper… and I don’t need to tell you it wasn’t a summary of all the good news from around the globe but exactly the opposite. As if they scoured the planet to find the worst things they could write about. Oh yeah, they did!
For better or worse, this is the world that surrounds most of us. It is the culture we live in. And it has only gotten more pain oriented over the last half century. Look at TV programming or movie titles for clear proof.
Fortunately, I practice Yoga, not just as a physical discipline but a spiritual one as well. An aspect of the Yogic path is called “Pratyahara”, which means turning the senses inward. My yoga teacher, Menuso, is a disciple of Iyengar, who was a disciple of Krishnacharya. Krishnacharya practiced Pratyahara intensely in early 19th century India. He walked around eyes cast down, didn’t listen to music, and so on, so as not to be distracted. And this was a nearly a decade ago when the distractions were far fewer, especially in rural India.
But what was he avoiding distraction from?
In short, the unending source of happiness, Being itself, as experienced in the human soul. The good news is that there is not an ounce less of that unending source of happiness today than there was back then. It is something we tap into all the time. The clichéd example is how we feel when we see a beautiful sunset. Maybe the sunset is just a moment of undistracted calmness when we to turn our attention to the vastness and openness of life, a beautiful sight that encourages us to look within although our eyes gaze outward.
Perhaps the unending source of happiness is at your fingertips all the time.