The happiness which comes from long practice, which leads to the end of suffering, which at first is like poison, but at last like nectar – this kind of happiness arises from the serenity of one’s own mind.
― Ved Vyasa,
Ah yes, serenity. Not an ingrained personality trait of mine – not at all. It is a learned trait and like all learned traits, can become a habit in the best meaning of the word.
“Which at first is like poison” are words I would underline and put in all caps. It is like poison, trying to live “in” this world – this world that is Hell from the day we are born into it until the day we find ourselves one with Brahma, Buddha, Christ. Controlling the mind which is like a chattering monkey is the hardest of practices and only possible with great effort.
I have found over my 60+ years, that it is imperative that I be serene. It is necessary so that I may create, live, work, take care of my loved ones and walk in this world without resenting its existence. I did resent the World’s existence for most of my life. I resented the disparity, the lack of charity, the complete disregard for others I see daily, the inhumane treatment of humans and animals, the horrible violence distributed at random. I still do resent those things – but I sense what is behind them now. And I am able to live in this place and recognize the Kingdom – the oneness of all.
Last evening I saw part of Pope Frances’ homily at Vespers in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. He was speaking to the religious about their apostolate and he stated that they must do their work, no matter how discouraged they may become, because the fruits of their work are in God’s hands, not their own. This is almost word by word the admonition spoken to Arjuna in the Gita by Krishna. Doing your work while not worrying about the results and not desiring the fruits of that work is a way of worship. I was struck by that because I had turned away from Christianity in search of a religious practice that fulfilled my beliefs more closely. There I was last night …….. coming home full circle, recognizing the words, knowing that there is one God, one Brahma one One and that the beliefs are the same. One and the same.
I am not Catholic. I was raised in the Protestant Church in the Mid-Western United States. My late husband was Catholic and took me to Mass in Paris in 1997. It was there that I first saw the magic of Mass and understood what he missed about the Church. Not that he was going to get me inside one here – after all, Paris is one thing, here is another! But at least I did understand.
And today, as I practice serenity – allowing all desires to wash around me and go on their merry way ………. I am once again struck with gratitude for this life that I have, the abilities I have been given and the hope that I can use these as God intended I do.