No one taught the baby how to be happy.
He didn’t need to understand a thing to be at peace.
Sure, quite there were needs. But they were pretty simple, they didn’t come with much justification or explanation: hunger, wind, maybe a full nappy. But a brief scream and the practicalities were dealt with.
And the scream did not disturb the peace. Simply expressed a feeling.
Of course, it’s not natural to remain a baby in the world. But neither is it natural to learn how to be unhappy. I don’t mean sad, irritated or angry, they are all very natural emotions. I mean deep down unhappiness, the sense that something is irredeemably broken.
The only reason any of us are in a conversation about finding happiness, peace or love is this: we somehow learnt how to be unhappy. We learnt that a surge of adrenaline was “anxiety,” not excitement. We were taught that sadness needed to be hurried along (and in our efforts to comply, we locked it in). We learnt that there are things from which we cannot recover (counter to our intuition that we are fundamentally okay). We were taught that who we are is a separate being, one among many. We learnt techniques—the best of which cleansed the body-mind a little; the worst of which taught us to try and fake the one thing that can’t be faked, indeed the one thing that doesn’t need to be faked: Presence.
Here’s a simile some of you will recognise: it’s like a lion cub was dressed in a sheep skin and told he was a sheep. And then it was suggested that the sheep (that he wasn’t) could learn to roar like the lion (that he already was). That this little sheep could be brave and strong, like a lion. And all along, he was the lion that he felt he needed to try so hard to act like, from the belief he was a sheep.
There is not a single thing a lion needs to learn in order to be a lion. But if he’s been religiously raised to be a sheep, and if he’s been taught lots of ways to act like a lion, as a sheep . . . then, it’s incumbent on those who know he’s a lion to hold up a mirror. He might not even recognise himself to begin with. He might be scared by the lion he sees, believing himself to be a sheep, as he does. Still, he was always a lion. Never not.
Likewise, there is not a single thing you need to understand in order to be happy. No technique, no strategy. Nothing that needs to change in your life. Nothing that can be stolen from you by illness, injury or age.
We were taught how to be unhappy. It wasn’t a choice, it just happened. And so, naturally, we go looking for how to find happiness. Until, one day, someone holds up a mirror. And we see ourselves. Just as we are.
Holding a mirror. That’s all this teaching does.
Happiness already IS.