Ending the Pursuit of Happiness

(with thanks to Barry Magid)

A funny drama played itself out within him.
            He wanted clarity, presence,
            the feeling of being awake,
            and sometimes he was granted such things.
            But then they disappeared.
“Why, and why so quickly,” he asked?

Inside, under the surface, forces were at work.

Like the desire for happiness, for example—
            firmly ensconced inside him.
This desire excluded ‘not happy,’
            so when ‘not happy’ came up
            (as it had a tendency to do),
            he resisted—shutting him down from
            fully feeling it, fully feeling life,
            hiding out somewhere inside until it departed.

Then suddenly one day, he saw the state he was in
            as both ‘him’ and ‘not him’ at once.
This was good. It led him to understand, directly,
            that at any point, he could pursue happiness or,
            by genuine acceptance, see down into each moment.
            But he could not do both.

He had little doubt that if he did, over time,
            end this slavery to the pursuit of happiness,
            then a deeper joy would come—
            in its own good time, of course.

But only if he honestly didn’t care,
            one way or the other.

“There’s a good koan for you,” he said,
            accepting that too,
            and looking as far down the road as he could see.

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