We live and breathe within a win-lose context. On one level, that’s completely obvious. Stanley Cup champions are face-to-face with hockey also rans. Elected Prime Ministers and parties are up against colleagues who garner 2% of the popular vote. And then in Toronto there are the mansions of Rosedale down a few roads from the public housing of Jane and Finch.
How deep does this cultural attitude stretch? Maybe it’s completely insidious and virtually unnoticed in most interactions we humans have with each other. If I’m talking to you, is there an unspoken current below to the tune of “I’m better than you, smarter, more handsome, kinder … blah, blah, blah?” I hope not, but I worry that it’s so. And perhaps you’re having the same thoughts about me. Two isolations. And it doesn’t have to be this way.
The Buddha talked about empathetic joy, in which I can be supremely happy when you have success. It’s not that there’s only so much happiness to go around and I get antsy if you score too much of the pie. No. Have yourself a piece or two and there’ll be plenty left for me, and for everyone else.
What if I knew that my well-being revolved around being good to other people? What if I wanted you to have everything, to be so deliciously happy and peaceful? And that became far more uplifting to me than any worldly accolades that come my way? Is that so very far out in left field? Can we create a world like that? I wonder.
What if I knew that in the expanse of life’s goodies there is actually nothing but love? I’ll cheer when my team scores the winning goal and revel in my promotion and enjoy beach time in the Caribbean while sensing that only we are the world. Or as Walt Whitman said, “We were together. I don’t remember the rest.”
I want you to have joy in your heart
Maybe you’ll want me to have the same
Wouldn’t that be the sweetest dessert?