Happiness has many approaches. Some of them take us far away from the happiness we feel into a land of speculation, almost like gambling. There are some paths to happiness that are shorter, more direct. To see these more direct ways it is often helpful to look at our present life, our real life. And when we do that we notice that something quite startling appears. Far from being happy we find that most people live in a state of unhappiness. Like fish swimming in waters that are murky, people spend much of their time feeding their unhappiness. They are beset by the “shoulds” and “oughts” of life. The second thing we notice is that those people who are happy, those rare individuals who seemed to have figured out the equation, are not necessarily joyous, just happy. These human beings may well feel great moments of joy but that is not synonymous with the state of happiness. This is important because we are sold an image of joy, ecstasy, pleasure, triumph, validation and all sorts of other states as being requirements for happiness. But if we remember, really recall, what happiness is and can be then we see it is a self generated state not a condition of having things or receiving awards. And sometimes as in the case of someone’s beloved pulling through a long illness, the happiness is a state of something being taken away /a worry, a fear, a slice of hate we’ve been trying to dissolve/ instead of something being added.
There are a number of ways to get at least a toehold on this issue of happiness. In Qigong we do it by stopping the brain and allowing it to rest. Someone has said that sleep is just as good as Qigong for this, and sometimes that’s right especially if you are deprived of this essential activity. But Qigong gives us the valuable, no precious, practice of uncoupling ourselves from our environment of unhappiness while we are conscious and whenever we want to do this.
There are many ancient wise words about the state we are entering. A friend recently told me about experiments on the brain waves of Buddhist monks. The brain scans did not reveal a change in the centers for conflict, or thinking, or special skills. It was the center for pleasure that grew, the receptors for pure enjoyment which is indeed what happiness can bring. Many of these ancient texts talk about No Mind, No Conflict. These are valuable goals. But for now, today, take a minute and just concentrate on No Unhappiness.