Thursday, February 07, 2008


"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but somethimes your smile can be the source of your joy." Toch Nhat Hanh

"Keep on smiling,
cause when you're smiling,
the whole world smiles with you." When You're Smiling, as sung by Nat "King" Cole

Nhat and Nat really said (or sang) the same thing. That joy is an active concept, not a passive one. That joy is within you, not something you receive, but something you discover.I confess that the greatest source of my problems is not understanding that simple truth. It is the greatest problem many of us have. The great physicist, Fritjof Capra, spoke of those who are "feverish little clods of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy".Well, Fritjof baby, that's most of us.

I think that the problem has grown worse over time, because there is so much external to us that we look to to make us happy. Ever get upset that there is nothing good on television ? Get mad because the waiter in the restaruant has kept you waiting ? Demanded treatment from a doctor that would make you feel better, right now ! Bet you have. At least I have. It is so much easier to look to someone or something else to bring us joy than it is to look within. Introspection is not much fun. I think it was John Adams who was told to "think about something for a second" and replied, "But pain is a thoughtful process, and a second is a long time." But you can't know joy without introspection. It is the smile that brings the joy, not joy that brings the smile. The smile or laugh which comes from the joke you hear is not from the words of the joke itself, it is from the built up memories and understandings that,as a human, you have accumulated and understood throughout your life. The laugh is within you, the joke may bring it out, but it did not bring the joy, only the recognition or awakening of that joy. So listen to Nhat and Nat. Keep on smiling.


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