Monday, August 20, 2007

If we're looking for outer conditions to bring us contentment, we're looking in vain. We have to find inner conditions conducive to contentment. One of them is independence - not financial independence, which may bring other hazards, but emotional independence from the approval of others. This entails knowling that we are trying to do the best we can, and if someone disapproves, that's just the way things are. . . .

To be independent also includes no looking for support from others. Sometimes the best we can do may be very good, sometimes it is mediocre. That too has to be accepted. . . . If we sometimes cannot do as well as we thought we could, that is also all right and no reason for discontentment.

Emotional independence requires having a loving heart. If we are looking for love, we are emotionally dependent and often discontented because we don't get what we want, or don't get enough of it. Even if we do get enough, we still cannot count on it to fill our needs. To look for love is a totally unsatisfactory and unfulfilling endeavor. What does work, however, is loving others, which brings emotional independence and contentment. Loving others is possible whether the other person reciprocates or not. Love has nothing to do with the other, but is a quality of our own hearts.

--- Ayya Khema, in the discourse "Harmonious Living," p. 41-41, in Be an Island, 1999