'. . . Happiness forever'
by Ajahn Sumedho
. . . We have been meditating, watching our breath, contemplating the inhalation and the exhalation. We're using bare attention, mindfulness of the body while walking, standing, sitting and lying down. Rather than becoming fascinated, we're opening the mind to conditions as they are at the present time.
Notice how even in a beautiful place like this we can really make ourselves miserable. When we are here, we might want to be somewhere else; when we are walking, we might want to be sitting; when we are sitting, we might want to be walking. When we are meditating, we are thinking what we'll do after the retreat. Then after the retreat, we wish we were back here . . . hopeless, isn't it?
Before you came to this retreat, you were having problems at home and you were thinking, 'I can hardly wait until I go on retreat.' And then here you wish, 'I can hardly wait for the retreat to end.' Maybe you get very tranquil sitting there thinking, 'I want to be like this all the time,' or you try to get that blissful state you had yesterday but instead get more and more upset.
When you get these nice blissful states you grasp them; but then you have to get something to eat or do something. So you feel bad at losing the blissful state. Or maybe you haven't been getting any blissful states at all: just a lot of miserable memories and anger and frustrations arise. Everyone else is blissful; so then you feel upset because everybody else seems to be getting something from this retreat except you. . . .
This is how we begin to observe that everything changes. Then we have the possibility to observe how we create problems or attach to the good or create all kinds of complexities around the conditions of the moment; wanting something we don't have, wanting to keep something we have, wanting to get rid of something we have. This is the human problem of desire, isn't it? We're always looking for something else.
I remember as a child wanting a certain toy. I told my mother that if she got me that toy, I'd never want anything ever again. It would completely satisfy me. And I believe it -- I wasn't telling her a lie; the only thing that was stopping me from being really happy then was that I didn't have the toy that I wanted. So my mother bought the toy and gave it to me. I managed to get some happiness out of it for maybe five minutes . . . and then I had to start wanting something else. So in getting what I wanted, I felt some gratification and happiness and then desire for something else arose. I remember this so vividly because at that young age, I really believed that if I got that toy that I wanted, I would be happy forever . . . only to realize that 'happiness forever' was an impossibility. . .