I have a confession to make:
When I was studying Buddhism I was a very bad student.
Not that I did not like to study or to practice.
All that was fine - I was just a very impatient student.
I wanted enlightenment and I wanted it NOW.
Why all the waiting and delay?
And then, I was never sure if I was doing it right or wrong.
I never knew if I was making any progress or not.
I mean, some days I thought that I had a great break through.
But the next day I would feel more confused and baffled than ever.
I wonder how you are doing on your practice.
I hope you are meditating every day religiously.
Not that it is any of my business but practice is what makes or breaks your study.
Meditation is the glue that brings together the theory and practice of Buddhism.
Because you see Buddhism is more than a religion or a philosophy.
Buddhism is a path to enlightenment and enlightenment is a way of life.
Have you ever seen the Dalai Lama?
He has this smile on his face. Like the canary that has swallowed the cat.
It is not a smug or funny smile. It is a serene, angelic smile.
It is the smile that comes from a light soul and an enlightened mind.
It is, if you would like, the badge of enlightenment. The measure of one’s illumination.
So if you wonder how far you have gone on your path.
If you want to “measure” your enlightenment or the lack off, for that matter.
Here how you do it:
I know that you maybe have no reason to do it right now but that is exactly the point.
Smile! :) :) :)
Just put a grin on your face and keep it up.
This is a signal to your body, to every organ and cell, that you have left your pretense down and you can be free to be yourself.
Happiness and for that matter depression and anxiety are not abstract things.
Happiness is a very organic, very basic constituent of life.
Just keep on smiling and soon you will feel that organic happiness ready to burst out.
Do not try to hold it back. The harder you try the more explosive it will get.
Now let it be without forcing it.
You will find yourself smiling without a reason.
Your smile will be somewhere between a frown and Dalai Lama’s smile.
Write it down as a number from 1 to 10.
That will be future reference for your progress.
If this sounds very unscientific it is because it is very unscientific.
Life is not a science and neither is Buddhism.
PS: Do this as often as possible.
It is not only a good measurement it is also a good exercise.
And if somebody just happens to see you smiling without a reason, be prepared.
People do not like other people smiling without reason – unless you are Dalai Lama.
They will be suspicious and probably ask for an explanation.
Here are some very good excuses for being happy:
- Having you as a friend / colleague/ boss/ partner, brings joy and happiness to me.
- Because being happy takes less energy than being miserable.
- Because happy people get laid more often. (don’t say that to your wife!)
- I got Botox today and my face got stuck this way.
- Why not. Do I have to be depressed to live / work / create in this place?
- I have found Jesus Christ.
- My aunt died and left me a million dollars
- I found out I am not pregnant /or/ I found out I am pregnant (don’t say that if you are a man!)
- The Prozac /Lexapro / Zoloft/ Viagra, just kicked in.
- Because I ran out of reasons to be unhappy.
Of course you can get creative and come up with more excuses to be happy.
And if you get any good ones be sure to share them with us :)