Omnis instabilis et incerta felicitas est.
(Seneca the Elder, controversiae 1.1.3)
Every happiness is unstable and uncertain.
(pron = ohm-nis in-stah-bi-lis eht in-ker-tah –feh-lih-ki-tahs ehst)
Comment: The bad news: the things that make us happy do not last. The good
news: the things that make us unhappy do not last either. In some wisdom
traditions, this idea or those like it, is called “the middle way”. It
recognizes that the things that cause us to experience transitory states like
“happy” and “unhappy” are constantly changing. Because of that, while we can
observe them, feel them, experience them, we should not cling to them, or
despair of them, too much. In other words, we can sober ourselves and console
ourselves with the fact that “this too” will change.
I think this may come as something of a “downer” for the American psyche which
is always looking for something new, something else to make us happy.
Unfortunately, that constant search for happiness prevents us from experiencing
“happy” while we have it because we are in search of it. And, it prevents us
from the humble and real fact that “happy” does not belong to us just because
we are Americans. Today offers what is in our lives. Today may bring
“happiness” to us. Enjoy it. It will fade. Today may bring unhappiness to
us. Endure. It will pass. Somewhere between happy and unhappy, though, is
where we live—in the middle way.
(Used with permission)
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