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Seeking Happiness Until We Are Exhausted

| Nirmala | Emptiness

Seeking Happiness Until We Are Exhausted

Published on
04 September 2009

Someone on Facebook sent me the following quote and followed with a question:

"I believe that the very purpose of our life is to seek happiness. That is clear. Whether one believes in religion or not, whether one believes in this religion or that religion, we all are seeking something better in life. So, I think, the very motion of our life is towards happiness…"--Dalai Lama

This is what i've been pondering on...."we all are seeking something better in life. " Do we seek because of a void or is it our nature to long for more, but then again that would be ego driven. Im probably over thinking...

And here is my response:

We do seek, first for something better, and then for a better or more spiritual truth because we are trying to fill the void or emptiness within. But both are doomed to failure because everything that we put in the emptiness and every experience we have is dissolved back into emptiness. Trying to fill the emptiness is like trying to fill a bucket with lots of holes. It never fills up no matter how much water we put in!

Eventually after massive amounts of failure, we get so tired of seeking and trying to find happiness that we finally just let ourselves experience the emptiness itself. What is that like? Is it a bad sensation? What is already present in the emptiness? What are the qualities of the emptiness itself? One of the many surprises you may discover is that joy or happiness actually flows out of the emptiness. Happiness (and peace, love, satisfaction, value, etc.) comes from the same source as the seeking!

We may not notice this for a long time because whenever we do get something we want, for a moment we stop seeking. And in that relative stillness, it is easier for us to notice the happiness or peace that is present in the emptiness. But we think that getting what we wanted made us happy since one follows the other, which reinforces our tendency to seek. And this reinforcement of the seeking means that the joy doesn't last or it is never enough. However, if you still are seeking or wanting something, including happiness, then usually the best thing you can do is keep seeking. The worst that can happen is that you will wear yourself out even sooner!

But it is also possible that you are already exhausted enough from seeking to just rest and let yourself be empty. And some joy, peace, or love may be noticed in that emptiness, or it may trigger another round of trying to fill the emptiness which will just wear you out some more. You can pay attention to the happiness when it does appear: where is it really coming from? Does getting something or knowing something really make you happy, or does it just allow you to rest for a moment? Does happiness or peace ever show up even when you don't get what you want, or when you are just still for a moment, or you just finally let yourself be empty? Eventually, you may discover you can trust the emptiness more than you can trust seeking.


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