Today, I saw an interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on CNN-IBN. The Dalai Lama was being interviewed by Karan Thapar, the host of Devil's Advocate. For most of the interview, Karan Thapar focused on the issue of Tibet. However, when you are talking to the Dalai Lama, you can always expect to hear some great words of wisdom even when the topic of discussion is political affairs. Here's something that caught my attention:
After a long discussion on the problems with respect to the Chinese occupation of Tibet, Thapar asked: God forbid you die before you return to Tibet, will you die unhappy?
Dalai Lama: Not necessarily. When you become a Bhikshu, theoretically [you are] no longer attached with one's family (referring to Tibet and its people as his family).
Karan Thapar: So the attachment has gone?
Dalai Lama: No no no... the important thing is one's own daily life should be meaningful.
This above conversation had a profound impact on me. Detachment is a goal that is talked about a lot in Hindu and Buddhist traditions, but from the above conversation it became clear that even the Dalai Lama had not fully realized the ideal of detachment. It gave me some solace, because I have been struggling to stay in the state of detachment beyond very short intervals of time. But looks like, there is still hope, because one can be happy by making one's daily life meaningful.
Recently, I noticed the wisdom in the Dalai Lama's words being practiced by a friend who recently suffered a heartbreak. Obviously she was under a lot of pain after her partner had walked out of her life. However, she had successfully made changes in her life that made her daily existence very meaningful. She had started meditating, and was trying in her own small way to make people around her happy. Consequently, there was an aura of peace surrounding her that I hadn't noticed before.
The point is that we will never get all that we want in life. And most likely we will not get the very thing that we want the most in life. We can develop an attitude of detachment towards our wishes and intentions. However, I am coming to realize that detachment is more of an ideal that we--lesser mortals--can only strive to come close to. Achieving a permanent state of detachment is very difficult. But thankfully, we can still be happy by working on making each and every day of our existence meaningful. We can all make a conscious contribution to the world daily in ways that make our existence for that day worthwhile. "Living happily ever after" is too lofty to be realistic, but making today a happy day is very doable. So, no matter what happens today, it can always be a meaningful and worthwhile day. I guess that's all there is to happiness.