Stories of Buddha’s compassion and consideration for all life abound. He taught truth and he also taught compassion because he saw personal happiness as related to the happiness of others, humans and otherwise. Such a lesson is reflected in both the way he lived and the way he died. In life, it was said that the Buddha forewent Nirvana in order to teach others the keys to transcendence. In death, the story goes that a follower accidentally poisoned Buddha. As he was dying, he comforted this follower by assuring him that the meal he had just eaten was one of his two most blessed meals: the first meal was the one he had to break his fast under the bodhi tree, and this second meal of rotten mushrooms was the meal that would bring him to Nirvana.

The journey to attain a deeper form of happiness requires an unflinching look into the face of a reality where all life is seen as dukkha. Buddhism is a philosophy and practice that is extremely concerned with the mind and its various delusions, misunderstandings and cravings but, happily for us, sees a way out through higher consciousness and mindful practice.

The ideas contained in Buddha’s teachings point to a thorough engagement with lived reality. Ironically, it is through such an engagement with one’s self, the world and reality that one is able to achieve a transcendent happiness.

We must always remember that equanimity, a deep sense of well-being and happiness, is attainable through proper knowledge and practice in everyday life.

Peace and Love, Jim

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