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Opening To The Joy Of Interconnection

Walking down the high street today I saw an advertisement for happiness. It claimed that happiness is a new pair of shoes. I don’t know about you, but reading that made me stop in my tracks and take a second look. I couldn’t quite believe it. And yet this is the message that we are exposed to again and again:

Happiness is in the getting of things
Happiness is in the getting of things

This ignorance is the cause of so much suffering in our hearts and our world. We look for happiness in the wrong places. And in the pursuit of it we harm each other and the earth.

We forget that our happiness is not in separation and acquisition, but in connection and mutual care.

Dharma teachings illuminate this tendency to ignorance and its consequences. It is ignorance that is at the root of our sense of separation and isolation. The teachings also encourage us to seek a different route to happiness. One that is not rooted in getting things or avoiding things, but in deepening understanding of experience and how it is constructed. As we explore this way, we uncover resources of wellbeing that are profound and meaningful.

The poet Mary Oliver wrote:

“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.“

She reminds us that our wellbeing and joy are rooted in our understanding of our interdependence. She reminds us that the world is here, offering itself to our imagination and our care.

Back on the high street, I stopped and breathed for a moment with the heartbreak of witnessing ignorance and it’s impact. I looked up at the sky, and at the birds dancing through it on this beautiful summer evening. I took a moment to hold all the beings around me in my heart, and to feel the commitment within grow stronger.

May my practice on this earth, in every moment, support the transformation of ignorance into compassion and kindness.
May I play my part in the ending of suffering, and its causes, for all beings everywhere.

Practice suggestions: Breathing Gifts

As you breathe in, imagine the trees that have exhaled the oxygen that is entering your body. Feel the nourishment of the breath.

As you breathe out, feel the gift of life that you are offering to the plants around you. May it nourish them.
Breathing in and out, feel the flow of life moving through you. The gift of each breath connecting you to many other beings.

Rest into that giving and receiving of breath.

Let it nourish and support you

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver