Mt. Root Sangha Readings
A Simple Sense of Delight
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche
One of the most welcome and important aspects of practicing and studying the Buddhist teachings is that we begin to trust our mind and discover the inherent goodness in it. The result is feeling cheerful.
Most of us think of cheerfulness as a mood that shows up in our life for random reasons—a nice day, a birthday party, or the simple pleasure of being with friends. Certainly our culture encourages us to put on a cheerful face. It may sometimes feel like we are forcing it, which nobody likes. Because it isn’t genuine, this kind of cheerfulness is difficult to maintain, as if we’re covering up a deep wound.
Under such conditions, and because our moods change constantly, we might not understand that cheerfulness is in fact an inherent quality of mind. Within the meditative tradition, cheerfulness is considered to be the natural, harmonious, and wholesome expression of our truest self.
Cheerfulness comes naturally with meditation. It is a quality of space created within the mind. When there’s space in the mind, the mind relaxes, and we feel a simple sense of delight. We experience the possibility of living a life in which we aren’t continuously bombarded by emotions, discursiveness, and concepts about the nature of things.
On the path of meditation we take into account the harshness of life—and perpetually temper that with cheerfulness—not out of ignorance, but out of wisdom. Contemplating the truth of pain and suffering does not lead to depression. Rather, it helps us appreciate what we have, which is buddha-nature. All of us are naturally buddha, “awake.” Knowing that we are all naturally awake brings delight.
In dark times like these when we feel even more burdened and insecure, we should be contemplating our true nature more than ever. It can cheer us up on any day. Despite all the ups and downs of our life, we are fundamentally awake individuals who have a natural ability to become compassionate and wise. Our nature is to be cheerful. This cheerfulness is deeper than temporary conditions. The day does not have to be sunny for us to be cheerful.
When we practice meditation, we are encouraging this natural state of cheerfulness. We don’t have to regard meditating as a somber activity. We are using a technique to build clarity, strength, and flexibility of mind. In training our mind to pliability and power, we’re learning to relax, to loosen up, so that we can change our attitude on a dime. Strength of mind and pliancy are the causes and result of cheerfulness.
The reality is that underneath all the flickers of desire and all the dreams we use in order to fool ourselves into seeking temporary forms of happiness, our mind is clear and cheerful. We can delight in just sitting there doing nothing. Going for a walk or eating a piece of fruit can be fulfilling experiences. We do not need to prove our cheerfulness again and again; it arises simply and naturally. We’re happy to be alive. Having more money or more food is never going to replace that basic sense of delight. It isn’t what we possess—it’s what we enjoy.
The experience of genuine cheerfulness is free from fixation and attachment. We are free of having to depend on something else to make us happy. We can bask freely in the natural radiance of our mind. This is the equanimity of true cheerfulness—nothing more, nothing less.