Imagine a little child gluing pieces of paper together and from her clumsy effort, there is a “mutated” paper flower with petals of different shapes and colors. She happily presents it to you. If you accept that flower as it is and appreciate it as it is, then your mind experience joy and she is delighted by your genuine smile.
That is the simple joy of acceptance that brings happiness to ourselves and others.
In our daily life, most of us don’t practice that. Instead, our mind is constantly scoring and judging. We judge the services we get, we judge the taste of the food, we judge the ambient and we judge the people around us. We are busy scoring everything according to our standards. Likes and dislikes.
Sometimes, we are delighted and sometimes we are frustrated.
The problem with all this judgement and scoring is; WE FEED OUR EXPECTATION and it grows into a MONSTER!
I remember receiving a simple keychain from someone I least expect to remember me during his vacation, and I was delighted. I also remember receiving a Hardrock cafe T-shirt from a close friend and feeling disappointed that it wasn’t the design I wished for. Worst of all, humans can be very sensitive to each other’s emotive respond. A flicker in our eyes, a slight twitch to a facial muscle, an unintended vocal tone and we inevitably affect the happiness of others too.
When we learn to judge , we set the stage for unhappiness (both ours and others). That is why Buddhist practice aims to re-program our mind. Instead of constantly “reacting” to our situation, we learn to accept and be contented. No judgement. Simply be living in the present. We aim to be mindful of the likes and dislikes arising in our mind and then letting them go. We learn to acknowledge that likes and dislikes are just mental conditioning that happened to us.
For example, one of my classmate gave me a beautiful origami doll on my 14th birthday. I was delighted that someone remembered my birthday and I proudly showed that birthday present to my mother. To my surprise, she was horrified that someone offered me a paper doll on my birthday. She turned ballistic and demanded that I throw away that origami immediately! You see, according to Chinese custom, people only offer paper doll to the deceased. Thus that gift was deemed a curse by her. I didn’t understood it was a mother’s love at that time and we clashed. Due to her “education” or mental conditioning, I learnt that such a gift is inappropriate. Thus, my like became dislike. Throughout our life, we are being conditioned or “programed” to like or dislike things and situations.
Another example is birthday cake candles. While it is customary to make a wish and blow out the candles in the West, some eastern cultures interpret it as extinguishing the flame of life! Whereas, a Theravadian Buddhist may interpret it as extinguishing the fire of craving (Aka. enlightenment)
After a while, we forgot how we were influenced and wrongly conclude that our likes and dislikes are personal. In reality, there is nothing personal. When we learn not to grasp or take things personally, we lessen our sufferings. That in turn, benefits people around us.
May all be well and happy.