The Happiest Man In The World
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche
And now, for something completely different. Really. I could relentlessly, clenching my teeth, continue to pound the keyboard to rant and fulminate about the latest outrages. We all do that. Or right now I could do something else, something that might even make me smile. Which brings me directly to Daniel Goleman's lovely piece in today's New York Times, "Sitting Quietly, Doing Something," which is about "the happiest man in the world."
Some anecdotes, though the entire article is well worth your time:
I recently spent an evening with Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, the Tibetan lama who has been dubbed “the happiest man in the world.” True, that title has been bestowed upon at least a few extremely upbeat individuals in recent times. But it is no exaggeration to say that Rinpoche is a master of the art of well-being.
So how did he get that way? Apparently, the same way you get to Carnegie Hall. Practice.
When I called him at his Manhattan hotel... he told me he was in the middle of a shower – but not in the usual sense. The shower, he told me, had run out of hot water midway. When he called the front desk, he was told to wait several minutes and there would be more hot water. In this situation, I probably would have been peeved. But as Rinpoche told me this, he was laughing and laughing.
The only momentary glitch I’ve witnessed — a few years back — was slapstick: he sat down in an office chair with a faulty seat that suddenly plunged several inches with a thump. Once when this chair had done the same to me I cursed and groused about it for a while. But Rinpoche just frowned for a second — and the next moment he was his upbeat self again.
Another fruit of these spiritual practices seems to be a healthy dose of humility. When Rinpoche told my wife that he was being billed as “the happiest man in the world,” he laughed as though that were the funniest joke he’d ever heard.
So I'm wondering about this man. And his happiness. And my happiness. Wouldn't being this happy be incredible fun? And wouldn't I be so much more fun to be around if I were happier? And wouldn't the happiness feelings drive whatever worry and anxiety I might be feeling right out of my mind? Wouldn't everything in my life and surroundings look and feel and actually be different? And better?
I've been a long time meditator, but unlike the great meditators whose minds are measured in laboratories, I'm sure I have nowhere near 10,000 hours of meditation. And I'd be lying if I said I was happy all of the time, or even the majority of the time. Sometimes I'm happy. Those times, sometimes, seem rare. Mostly, I think I'm in neutral. I have some equanimity. Sometimes, and I hope this is not the majority of time, like everyone, else I'm upset, afraid, depressed, anxious. I have negative feelings and emotions. Sometimes these occupy me for what seems like a long time.
So I wonder. What can I do to be more like Rinpoche? I want to be like