A Key to Happiness at Great America

Great America

Still on summer blogging break, but I had a thought that I wanted to get down. The boys and I were at Great America’s Boomerang Bay yesterday.

I forgot to bring a book, so while the boys were playing in the kiddie pool, I people watched. I was trying to empathize with strangers by mimicking their body language and face expressions in my mind. What I noticed is that a majority of people at this theme park were not happy!

Fox smiling with green tongueOf course the kids were happy, but many of the parents and mature adults looked stressed, irritated, or burdened. Truth be told, it was near 100 degrees outside and all the pool chairs in the shade were taken, but we were in California on a beautiful summer day.

So I tried to zero in on people with smiles on their faces. I categorized the happy people into four main groups—singers, dancers, talkers, and sympathetic joyers. Everyone singing and dancing were having a great time. Those who were talking to others also seemed to be enjoying themselves. The happiest people in the park, however, were the ones who were soaking in the joy of others, usually their children.

In Buddhism, we have the four divine emotions—metta (lovingkindness), karuna (compassion), mudita (sympathetic joy), and upekkha (equanimity). I focus a lot on metta, karuna, and upekkah in my daily meditation practice, but I often forget about mudita.

This day at the park reminded me of a few things. First, we have the choice at every moment to practice a divine emotion. Second, there is always opportunities to find happiness through sympathetic joy, especially around children.

From that moment on, I sucked in the joy of all the children playing in the water like a vampire in a blood bank. Actually, the legend of a vampire fits here. Vampires were supposed to be able to live forever by sucking on the blood of youth. I estimate that I’ve increased my lifespan by practicing sympathetic joy with my sons. Even if I don’t live longer, I will live deeper and happier.

I wanted to publish this post to remind me to choose sympathetic joy as much as possible. I hope your days are filled with moments of joy, both your own joy and the joy of others.

NOT Getting Hugged by Amma

Amma at StanfordOn Monday, I went to a Conversation on Compassion with Amma at Stanford. Here are a few highlights:

  • “Compassion is the most important factor in life”
  • “Compassion is the first step.  If we can take that step courageously without fear then everything else will follow spontaneously.”
  • “When we have compassion then all the decisions we make and the actions and their results that follow will have a special beauty, spontaneity, and power to it.”
  • “Human’s calculations can always be wrong. But decisions taken from compassion and actions that are compassionate can be never wrong because compassion is a law of nature.”
  • “When we give up the individual mind and tune to the universal mind which happens in compassion, then we can never do anything wrong because it is not us acting, but it is the universal power. Compassion gives us the ability to tune into the universal power.”
  • “When love attains perfection that is when the flower of compassion happens.”

 

After the conversation, Amma announced that she would give darshan to all the attendees (near 2,000), but she asked that only attendees who have never received a hug come up so Amma could have time to hug everyone who wanted one.

Since I have been getting hugged by Amma since 1999 and I was wearing an “embrace the world” t-shirt that I bought at Amma’s ashram, I knew that I should remain seated, but I REALLY wanted to get a hug from Amma–especially when I saw that they were giving large gift bags to all who received a hug.

Unfortunately, during her talk Amma said that there are three types of people.

  • The first type of person–what they get they eat.
  • The second kind of person–what they get they eat and they also try to take the other person’s food and eat that as well.
  • The third kind of person–whatever they get, they eat a part of it then give the rest to others around them.

I knew that if I went to get a hug, I would be taking from someone else, so I forced myself to refrain from getting a hug.

But something wonderful happened. As I watched Amma hug others, the craving and jealousy drained out of me and was replaced with sympathetic joy (mudita). I saw the glowing faces of the people walking off the stage, and I could feel their joy and gratitude which somehow became my joy and gratitude. I got a taste of the universal mind and power that Amma was talking about.

It was the best non-hug that I have ever received.

Have you ever felt empathic joy? Please share.

 

Related Articles

http://everydaygurus.com/2013/06/03/embracing-the-world

http://everydaygurus.com/2012/11/14/free-hugs-hug-for-freedom