Monday, October 26, 2009

The Path

The Road
photo by Dar

There is a Buddhist quote that the dog that barks a lot is not therefore a good dog; and that, similarly, a man who is a good talker is not thereby a good man. The path of wisdom, even the simple path to a happy life, has eluded me often-- like a path through a forest overgrown with thickets, brambles, and brush that tear at the skin. It is curious how one can go merrily along for miles, for a long time, on the scenic path, noticing all the lovely vistas, apprecaiting the good things of life and love, only to find the path all of a sudden taking a precipitous downward, rocky and unexpected turn.
The path is mental. It really is no more difficult or treacherous physically-- it is that I have suddenly doubted the path, or done something to make it less than it was, downward, wayward, rather than upward.
Sharing a path with a loved one is doubly dangerous, though it is often more than doubly enjoyable. How much better the vistas are when you share them with someone. But a thoughtless sentence or gesture can, like a sudden storm, wreak havoc on the loveliest of gardens.
There is another wonderful Buddhist quotation that says that when I stop trying to put my patterns of love into your heart, I will at last see you. If we want love in our lives, we have to learn how to accept the other, the other's path, the other's worth, the other's joy. We may have to take turns letting the other lead, to follow the other's path rather than domineering or insisting on any one path.
My own path in this life has been a long one, its conclusion near. The final overlooks and vistas are not far off.
Three score down, and maybe a score to go. There could well be another adventure or two. Yet what I want more than anything is peace of mind and the sort of mindfulness the Buddhists speak of. We cannot change the past, we cannot even change much of anything except the way we accept what occurs. Attitude and awareness are everything. I want to miss no opportunity for joy, in myself and in those I love. I would like to add to the joy in the world-- lord knows the world needs it.
One way it seems to me to have happiness is to focus on the joys one has known-- to recall and to share them, whether in song, art, conversation, photographs, or writing in general. A moment of joy is beautiful forever. That is not to deny sadness or grief, but rather to grow and have a richer life for having experienced them.


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