Adam, my 32-year-old Iyengar Yoga teacher for over two years, is one of the calmest influences in my life. I only see him for private lessons once or twice a week, but if I won the lottery, I’d build a studio in my home and work with him every single day.
Adam is a marvelous teacher, but he also embodies many of the basic principles of Buddhism: He is thoughtful, compassionate and has a peaceful, happy aura about him. Even when he talks about someone he isn’t especially keen about, he doesn’t get all riled up and agitated. I’ve never asked him if he considers himself a Buddhist, but it really doesn’t matter. I like his style.
I’m pretty nearly ignorant on the subject of Buddhism, but I’ve been thinking it would be nice to learn something about it. On Friday night, I bought the 10th Anniversary Edition of The Art of Happiness, A Handbook for Living by The Dalai Lama and Dr. Howard C. Cutler, a psychiatrist. I’ve been whipping through the 300-page book all weekend and loving every moment.
I’ve been highlighting chunks of the writing that have enthralled me. Here are two tidbits for my FOF friends:
“So, how can we achieve inner contentment? There are two methods. One method is to obtain everything that we want and desire–all the money, houses and cars; the perfect mate; and the perfect body. The Dalai Lama has already pointed out the disadvantage of this approach; if our wants and desires remain unchecked, sooner or later we will run up against something that we want but can’t have. The second, and more reliable, method is not to have what we want but rather to want and appreciate what we have.” Even if what we have is a spinal cord injury, like Christopher Reeve, who considered himself a “lucky guy” after his initial despair. He said he had a wonderful wife and children, and if it weren’t for the medical advances that had been made, the fall from his horse would have killed him.
Connections to Others
“While some relationships are based on immediate sexual attraction, you can have other types of relationships, on the other hand, in which the person in a cool state of mind will realize that physically speaking, in terms of appearance, my girlfriend or boyfriend may not be that attractive but he or she is really a good person, a kind, gentle person. A relationship that is built on that forms a kind of a bond that is more long lasting, because there is a kind of genuine communication at a very human and personal level between the two…”
“If we define our self-image in terms of what we used to look like or in terms of what we used to be able to do and can’t do now, it is a pretty safe bet that we won’t grow happier as we grow older. Sometimes, the more we try to hold on, the more grotesque and distorted life becomes.”