We typically think of our happiness as dependent on certain good things happening. In the Buddhist tradition, the word sukha is used to describe the deepest type of happiness that is independent of what is happening. It has to do with a kind of faith, a kind of trust that our heart can be with whatever comes our way. It gives us a confidence that is sometimes described as the lion’s roar. It’s the confidence that allows us to say, “No matter what life presents me, I can work with it.” When that confidence is there, we take incredible joy in the moments of our lives. We are free to live life fully rather than resist and back off from a threat we perceive to be around the corner.
For most of us, especially when our conditioning is strong, we spend many moments tensing against what’s about to happen. There is a sense that something is going to be too much to handle or that what is good won’t last. We’re tensing even before anything actually happens. Sadly, in those moments of tightening to protect ourselves, we can’t really enjoy the life that’s here.
We cultivate a heart that is ready for anything when we trust our belongingness to the Earth, our belonging to timeless loving presence. When such trust flowers, we find peace in the midst of this living-dying world. We can actually be here for the moment and cherish it, rather than resist what might happen.
Ajahn Chah, a wonderful teacher of many of the teachers in the West, would take a glass that he always drank out of, hold it up and say:
I love this glass. Do you see this? I love this glass. It holds the water admirably. When the sun shines on it, it reflects the light beautifully. When I tap it, it has a lovely ring.
Yet for me, the glass is already broken. When the wind knocks it over or my elbow knocks it off the shelf and it falls to the ground and shatters I say “Of course.”
But when I understand that this glass is already broken, every minute with it is precious.
Can you imagine opening without resistance to the aliveness, change and loss that is inherent in this existence? Can you imagine opening in this very moment to the pleasantness and pain, the changing flow of life? It is that openness that awakens the lion’s roar. It is that openness that allows us to live with a heart that is ready for anything.