Book Extract - The Pursuit of Happiness
by Michael Adam
Perhaps trying even makes for unhappiness. Perhaps all the din of my desiring has kept the strange bird from my shoulder. I have tried so long and so loud after happiness. I have looked so far and wide.
I have always imagined that happiness was an island in the river. Perhaps it is the river. I have thought happiness to be the name of an inn at the end of the road. Perhaps it is the road. I have believed that happiness was always tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. Perhaps it is here. Perhaps it is now. I have looked everywhere else.
So here and now.
But here and now is clearly unhappiness. Perhaps then there’s no such thing as happiness. Perhaps happiness exists not; it is just a dream created by an unhappy mind. Certainly it cannot be as I unhappily imagine it. Here and now there is no happiness. So happiness is not. I need not therefore waste myself on what is not. I can forget about happiness then; I can cease to care and instead concern myself with something I do know, can feel and fully experience.
Happiness is an idle dream: now it is morning. I can awaken and stay with unhappiness, with what is real under the sun this moment. And now I see how much of my unhappiness came from trying to be happy; even I can see that trying is unhappiness. Happiness does not try…
At last I am here and now. At last I am what I am. I am unpretending, at ease. I am unhappy. So what? Is this what I ran from? Is this really unhappiness?
When I cease to try to be happy or anything else, when I do not seek anymore, when I do not care to go anywhere, get anything, then it seems I am already arrived in a strange place: I am here and now.
When I see that I can do nothing, that all my doing is the same dream, in the moment that I see this, my mind – the old dreamer and wanderer – is for the moment still and present.
For the moment, here and now, the real world shows. And see: here and now is already and always all that I had sought and striven after elsewhere and apart. More than that, I have hunted after shadows. The reality is here in this sunlit place, in this birdcall now. It was my seeking after reality that took me from it. Desire deafened me. The bird was singing here all the while.
If I am still and careless to find happiness, then happiness, it seems, is able to find me.
It is – if I am truly still, as still as death – here and now.
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