I think the one thing that all human beings share in common is a wish to be happy. How many times have you yourself, or someone you know, said “I just want to be happy!”?
Regardless of our background, ethnicity, or religious beliefs, the desire for happiness is very powerful. And even those who think money will offer them happiness, usually find that they too are still seeking it, regardless of their financial wealth or possessions.
In this vein, many choose religion as a path and support system for finding happiness and peace in this life. And I understand that we, as human beings, can easily feel small and helpless at times. Death looms on the horizon like impending doom, and our day-to-day struggles can at times seem insurmountable. So we often turn to religion for answers, comfort, support and encouragement.
I don’t see this as bad or harmful in any way. We each must do what we must do to get through the days of our lives.
But are all the paths, all religions equally good in getting us to that place of peace, happiness, and contentment?
While I cannot possibly answer that question, I do see one thing clearly. And that is, that one who chooses several paths will only continue to circle the mountain again and again. Just think if you were to try to wash you car, paint your house, and cook dinner all at the same time. Chances are that none of these tasks would be accomplished with great skill or attention. Dinner would be burned, paint would be everywhere, and your car would have dirt and streaks everywhere.
Yet by choosing one path, say painting your house, you would likely focus mindfully and accomplish a wonderful job. Your results would speak for themselves, and you yourself would feel the joy and gratitude of having done such wonderful work. And if you continued to paint houses, your work would get better and more skillful each day that you were diligent and focused. Most especially if this was done with love, attention and caring.
I too simply wish to be happy. And my path just happens to be that of studying and practicing the teachings of the Buddha. I have found it to be one of honesty and simplicity, and encouraging of love, kindness, compassion and equanimity. But most importantly I have tested it each day and found it to be wholesome and truthful.
But this certainly does not mean it is the path that you should be taking. There are in fact so many paths available to each one of us.
I only suggest that you pick one which proves to have the same integrity, and follow it with a strong determination and your clear attention. If you can easily see the benefits in this, then you are on the right path. And if not, the perhaps it is time to question and examine your efforts. Remembering that you just want to be happy.
May you be free of suffering and the causes of suffering. May you be well, happy and peaceful.