Happiness is probably one of the most important words in the english language.
It points to something not always so easy to define, yet directly recognized by everyone.
Without happiness, whatever we do is never quite enough.
With it, everything is complete right now.
Without happiness, we are easily persuaded by dark inner voices that what we are doing is wrong, or that something is wrong with us.
With it, the critic is silenced by the singing of the birds, the joyful whispers of the trees, or the peaceful bellows of our breath.
Without happiness, we will see a thousand and one promises of salvation in something more, different, or better.
With happiness, we will see that this very life and this very moment is the fulfillment of the one promise that matters most.
Without happiness, everyone will appear as imperfect and in need of our correction.
With it, everyone is seen to be beautiful and whole, even as they play the game of getting better, or not being enough.
Without happiness, everyone is a potential threat and in need of our caution.
With happiness, everyone is one of Us, and not an “other.”
When we experience the presence of Happiness, we might notice that:
There is nothing we need to seek, or not seek.
There is nothing we need to know., or not know.
There is nothing we need to have, or not have.
There is nothing we need to be, or not be.
When we are truly happy, we are free.
Is there a single and simple promise you can make to yourself that turns on an inner smile, and lights up your life regardless of how this shadow play unfolds?
Most people like the idea of unconditional love, but not the reality of it.
Most people are happy to receive unconditional love on the one hand, while on the other hand are quite reluctant to extend it.
Because to love unconditionally requires that we set aside what is personal.
What is personal is conditional.
Because to love unconditionally requires that we offer our blessing to everything and everyone, including ourselves.
Whether we think they deserve it or not, or we deserve it or not.
What if it requires you to love what you think you hate?
What if it requires you to love your political adversaries as well as your friends and family?
Your pain as well as your pleasure?
Your failure as much as your success?
Your illness as much as your health?
And your death as much as your life?
What if it asks you to be okay with poverty, crime, and war?
Could you allow inequality and injustice to have a place at Love’s table, where all are welcomed as the guest of honor?
Could you accept as loveable, the faults and sins of character, the moral shortcomings, the outrageous betrayals?
What if unconditional love does not offer you a path to becoming a perfect person, but a path to learning to perfectly love the person you are?
If you are unwilling to Love everything, is it possible that what you have been calling love is something else altogether?
Unconditional Love may just be the radical capacity to be at peace with things as they are, while shining peace upon them.
Seeing them for what they are, while not expecting them to be something they are not.
Love does not take away our responsibility to act in accordance with our conscience.
Nor, does it strip away our discernment between good and evil, care and neglect, genuineness and deceit.
Love asks us to play our part in bringing some measure of heaven to earth, while understanding that the conditions of earthly existence are inherently difficult, unequal, and unfair.
Acceptance this deep and inclusive is not compassion's absence, but the very ground of its authentic presence.
In truth, unconditional love is more often found when passing through some great ordeal, than inside a hallmark card.
It is far more likely to be realized in the midst of darkness and pain, than in the fresh delight of lovers, or the ease of things going right.
Ordeals require us to face our pain and our resistance to pain.
And, if you cannot say you are truly happy and deeply at peace, then the ordeal of the human condition has found you.
This ordeal we have all been gifted has just enough pain to break us open to what is beyond it.
If we are open to the grace it holds out to us, this initiation by fire can liberate our half-heartedness, and reveal a wet-eyed or deep-sighed acceptance of what is, as it is.
And in that acceptance, there is a dissolution of our sense of being something "other" and a dawning realization of the unchanging love that is the true nature of all that appears to change.
And in this realization, the world is ennobled and seen as perfect, for it has played its perfect part in making the presence of Love tacitly known.
For the first time.