TV host Bill Moyers recently sat down with writer/teacher/activist Parker Palmer for a conversation about “maintaining spiritual wholeness even as the economy and political order seem to come apart.” One quote of Parker’s particularly struck me:
I think the pursuit of happiness is the pursuit of reality because illusion never leaves us ultimately happy.
A few days later, I came across the following passage in Bhante G’s book, Eight Mindful Steps to Happiness, in the chapter on Skillful Mindfulness:
The present moment is changing so fast that we often do not notice its existence at all. Every moment of mind is like a series of pictures passing through a projector…. Mindfulness helps us freeze the frame so that we can become aware of our sensations and experiences as they are, without the distorting coloration of socially conditioned responses or habitual reactions.
Once we learn to notice without comment exactly what is happening, we can observe our feelings and thoughts without being caught up in them, without being carried away by our typical patterns of reacting. Thus mindfulness gives us the time we need to prevent and overcome negative patterns of thought and behavior and to cultivate and maintain positive patterns. It gets us off automatic pilot and helps us take charge of our thoughts, words, and deeds.
Moreover, mindfulness leads to insight, clear and undistorted “inner seeing” of the way things really are. With regular practice, both in formal meditation sessions and as we go about the activities of our daily lives, mindfulness teaches us to see the world and ourselves with the inner eye of wisdom. Wisdom is the crown of insight. Opening the wisdom eye is the real purpose of mindfulness, for insight into the true nature of reality is the ultimate secret of lasting peace and happiness.