What do these words actually mean anyway?
Let’s begin with the word “well”. Being well is to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.
Being happy means to appreciate and enjoy this life. Having gratitude for all things, each breath, your opportunity to experience this life fully and mindfully.
And to be peaceful means that we have complete acceptance for the nature of this life and the impermanence of all things including ourselves. To live at ease, and with a peaceful mind.
Now while each of us may offer this wish to ourselves during loving-kindness meditation, how much do these intentions hold true in our daily lives? While experiencing physical pains, disabilities, emotion and mental struggles, it may seem almost impossible to feel that we are well, happy and peaceful.
But the deeper lessons we can gain from the teachings actually allow us this ability to be satisfied.
A wonderful example of this comes to mind with a story I will share about my teacher, Bhante Sujatha.
While hospitalized on one of many occasions, due to his severe ulcerative colitis, a Doctor came in to check on him. As the Doctor looked over the charts, he looked up at dear Bhante and asked on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the most intense pain, “what is your level of pain right now?” With a smile that could light up the World, Bhante responded “I would say 8!”. The Doctor looked at him and said “I don’t believe you. How can you be in such severe pain and still be smiling at me?”. At that point, Bhante gave a very brief dhamma talk and explained that he has a body and understands the nature of his body. Accepting that reality, he explained that he has no reason to be sad, angry or not to smile!
I’m sure the Doctor must have been shocked a bit, as I doubt he has ever met anyone before like my teacher. But what a wonderful example of the dhamma he should me by this experience of physical pain, without attachment to it or creating stories in his mind that create more suffering.
So while that story may not fully explain the capacity for each of us to be well, happy and peaceful, I do think it is a glowing example of a core teaching. Anicca, Dukkha, Anatta. Anicca – all things are impermanent, Dukkha – there is suffering, and Anatta – this is not mine, this I am not, this is not my self.
And the more deeply that we come to understand these three marks of existence, the more we are able to discover how can be well, happy and peaceful.
There is no other way to peace than by acceptance and direct experience. Through understanding and practice, we can each help ourselves become more loving and kind human beings. And I see that it is with that kind of love that we each offer the World so much compassion. Not just in words, but by our living example of the dhamma.