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April 17, 2018
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There’s gold everywhere.

Luxurious red curtains.

And food. Treat food. Gluten-free spiced chocolate. Himalayan herbal tea. Organic orange juice pressed and served in individual glasses.

And among all this, He sits, beatifically smiling. Big, majestuous, his palm turned upwards, golden from head to toe.

Budha.

Since I’ve arrived in Paris, I have missed my beloved London Buddhist Center… until I found the Kadampa meditation center just 10 minutes away from my Paris flat.

I barely know that different schools of Buddhism, but love how both feel so serene… and the contrast between the understated mood and the gold exuberance of the altars.

The colors, the smells, the kindness of people in both places. Love it.

So I go whenever I can, not to learn, more to soak in the quietness.

Until last week, when I ended up in a teaching class. We’d started with an opening meditation, and it had been bringing my mind to the brink of madness. As if I was going to explode.

With my limbs taking turns to drive me crazy, one by one getting hot, tense and itchy…

When the teacher monk finally invited us to open our eyes and started teaching I was so relieved. But also so high from my meditation efforts that I barely registered what he had to say.

He looked so happy, so relaxed, so generous, though, that he was a Teaching in himself.

I do remember that he gave us the 4 keys to happiness. Bam. Just like that, on a silver tray, the 4 things that will make us happy in this life if we practice them.

So let’s see…

First, you need to practice patience. 

Then, love.

Also, consideration.

And, finally, the ability to rejoice at any moment.

Stuck in the tube with your neighbour’s smelly armpit up your nose?

Easy.

Be patient, the ride won’t last forever. Find a way to love him with all your heart. Be considerate with those around you. And, finally, rejoice at… something… the proximity of human touch if you’ve been contact-deprived, the humming of the train, the fact that you have great podcasts on your phone… Anything.

Do this, he said, and you’ll be happy.

Does it work?

Well, he looked like one hell of a happy monk, so I’ll have whatever he’s having.

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