Lovingkindness - The Revolutionary Art of Happiness

Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness suffers, like many modern Buddhist books, from excessive self: author Sharon Salzberg writes with wisdom but too often can't resist first-person storytelling and semi-celebrity name-dropping from ashram encounters. Then there's too-frequent ancient-authority citation, not to mention heavy Pali-ism — unnecessary use of jargon from that dead Indo-Aryan language (chitta, karuma, mudita, upekkha, ...) when less-distracting words would work far better and avoid ineffibility syndrome.

But — and it's a big but! — there's still much magic in Lovingkindness. For starters, beautiful images worth remembering from the end of Chapter 1 ("The Revolutionary Art of Happiness"):

... An enlightened being such as the Buddha symbolizes that quality of health, freedom, love—the highest aspirations of humankind. Whether the Buddha was alone or with people, whether he was teaching and serving or living in solitude, he was effortlessly aware of wholeness. His happiness was not bound to any particular situation, subject to change. The Thai meditation master Ajahn Chah describes this happiness which we can attain through meditation practice: "Your mind will become still in any surroundings, like a clear forest pool. All kinds of wonderful, rare animals will come to drink at the pool, and you will clearly see the nature of all things. You will see many strange and wonderful things come and go, but you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha." The unbounded happiness of the Buddha was founded on the clear seeing and compassion running through his life in all circumstances. This is "suchness."

This happiness transforms us within and revolutionizes our perspective on the world without. In fact, the concept of within and without itself disappears.

Resting fully in the present is the source of this happiness. We open to our own experience, and inevitably that opens us to others. To be truly happy in this world is a revolutionary act because true happiness depends upon a revolution in ourselves. It is a radical change of view that liberates us so that we know who we are most deeply and can acknowledge our enormous ability to love. We are liberated by the truth that every single one of us can take the time and pay attention ...

Further excerpts and observations to follow ...

(cf. Steadiness of Heart (2011-07-13), Opening to Love (2013-09-27), Bodhichitta, Maitri, Shunyata (2014-07-16), 0-1 (2014-08-29), Heartfulness and Mindfulness (2014-12-15), Wisdom, Love, Life (2015-04-08), ...) - ^z - 2015-07-12