Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Don't worry - be Hopi

Motto on some t-shirts: Don't worry - be Hopi

On our recent trip to the Pueblo and Navaho lands, we learned that we could get t-shirts that said "Don't worry - Be Hopi".  Of course, that put me in mind of the song that made the rounds a few years back.  I heard it by Bobby McFerrin. Bobby McFerrin 's song, which evidently was Bob Marley's, too, is usually accompanied by happy-sounding whistling.


Since, if you are Hopi, you are Hopi all the time, I guess, I thought of the advice: don't worry.  My experience is such that telling or being told not to worry, by itself, is not a very effective way to stop worrying. I have read that it is just natural to want to be happy, preferably all the time.  Since happiness is more fun and more comfortable and satisfying than unhappiness, why not wish for it all the time?

One of the basic Buddhist principles is that life is full of suffering, which by definition is not happy.  The Buddha tries to make his case by pointing out that we flee or resist unpleasant things and find it distasteful when pleasant things cease.  So, both pleasant and unpleasant things can bring unhappiness.  What's a thinking, rational, wiley animal to do?  If we don't run from unhappiness, ignore it, sugarcoat it or dissociate from it (resolutely put our attention on lollipops or an image of blissing out), what can we do?

What is recommended is that we switch gears:

    • accept unhappiness for what it actually is

    • sit right with it, welcome it

    • taste it bravely

It is rather like with dogs and lions: don't run!  You may even get to the point where you say,"Goody!  Some suffering!  Some unhappiness!  A chance to practice."  Often, disease, loss, some new burden on top of the other burdens we carry turns out not to be all that much bother.


Much of our pain and unhappiness comes for the standard mechanism our bodies use.  Generally, pain is a reminder: there is damage here!  There is a problem here!  Don't ignore this!  So, what we put out of our minds is designed to return.  I have sometimes found that with some pain, if I continuously concentrate right on the pain, giving it all of my attention, it stops.  Sure, with serious pain, it returns as soon as I try to do something else than concentrate on it but I can often stop it with attention.

If we can temper our fear and flee response, accepting our fear and unhappiness, we will increase our ability to enjoy more of life, more of our minutes and experiences.  Bravely face what is.  It might even turn out to be some sort of blessing or prize or treasure.

Main blog: Fear, Fun and Filoz
Main web site: Kirbyvariety

Popular Posts

Follow @olderkirby