Talking About the Weather

… i am reading an article on the changeabiltiy of the whether and the lessons it has to teach… the article is in Lion’s Roar, a new feed on “Buddhist Wisdom for Our Time” i have added to my set of feeds… i come across this passage…

Buddhists, as Matthieu Ricard says in his luminous new book, Happiness, excerpted in this issue, believe that suffering and unhappiness are quite different things: suffering is the state, the reality, we are all given, but unhappiness is just the way we choose (or do not choose) to respond to it. Those rendered suddenly paraplegic often call themselves happy, after a year or so of adjustment, as frequently as those who win the lottery end up in despair.1

… i am struck by the contrast of who is as likely to be happy as who is not… that it is more possible to adjust to sudden and relatively extreme misfortune as to sudden and relatively extreme good fortune…

… i don’t know if the contrast is an accurate one… there are plenty of stories about how winning the lottery ruins lives, but i am not aware of many about happy adjustment to becoming paraplegic… i suppose i believe it, but would like some data on the point…

… i tend to believe it because humans seem remarkably capable of adjusting to circumstances as they are when those circumstances become more restrictive (though they rarely like loosing ground in the world)… we are ok with boundaries as long as we know what they are… and perhaps the problems involved with sudden wealth are because, suddenly, there are no boundaries… what defined and oriented life before is no longer useful and there has not been time to develop new boundaries and orientations that help with coping…

… as for the main topic of the article, that our inner moods are transitory, like the weather, and they color things one way and another… true enough, but i feel the author is reaching for something that he doesn’t quite get to… “our inner weather seems impossible to foretell,” he claims… though in my experience, when i go to bed, i generally have an inkling about how i will feel when i wake up unless there are disturbances along the way (dogs are good at that sometimes!)…

… day to day inner good weather can be cultivated… certainly, unexpected things happen along the way that alter inner weather, but cultivating a mind that can adjust to changes in circumstances is important life work… we might have goals we are moving towards, and habits and rituals that support our movement forward and our general happiness (or not), but they are worthless if they can’t accommodate sudden shifts in circumstances…