Tuesday, October 7, 2014
Earlier in the conversation, Rabbi Sacks spoke of there being two types of happiness. There is the happiness we feel as an individual and then there is the happiness we cultivate through sharing it with others. It is the gratitude for our blessings that we share in our relationships and within our communities that renew and strengthen our joy. He calls this a spiritual happiness which is the greatest renewable energy there is as it reinforces and deepens our sense of joy, love, friendship and trust.
When asked about finding happiness in the situations that bring us suffering, the Dalai Lama spoke of being able to look for the blessings that result from the changes the suffering initiated in the first place. Rabbi Sacks cited Genesis 32:26 when Jacob, who has wrestled with God throughout the night, says to him, “I will not let you go until you bless me.” It is when we move through our suffering and discover even more meaningful blessings in life that we can embody a deeper sense of joy.
Seyyed Hossein Nasr, a professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University, discussed the meaning of the word beauty in Islamic culture and that beauty also means virtue. As the conversation unfolded, his point was that as we appreciate our own inner beauty as well as the beauty held within the world around us, we experience the presence of the Divine. He describes happiness as the permanent state of the soul and when we practice gratitude, we tap in to this eternal state of joy allowing it to be expressed through virtue.
As we “harvest” our blessings through the many different cultural and spiritual traditions that take place between now and the end of the year, let us take some time to quiet the mind and center the heart in order to allow our happiness to “catch up to us”, and in turn share it fully with our loved ones and community in the spirit of appreciation for all that is.
*A recording of this discussion can be heard at the website for On Being (www.onbeing.org).