As a child I always wished I could turn my head 360 degrees around like an owl, being able to see behind me was a very enticing idea. I made great attempts to turn my head as far as I could, which was never any farther than the range of motion that felt natural and comfortable, and eventually I realized it was as foolish a thought as attempting to kiss one's own elbow. Though I cannot turn my head all the way around on my neck, I have come to know spaciousness of perspective is not limited to my necks mobility. Perspective is limited to where we place our inner gaze.
There is a story of a sage, while he was in his mothers womb he was cursed by a powerful Brahman. "Krsna appeared to him in the womb and stood with him at his side as a friend and protector who cared for and loved him. But after Parīkṣit was born he lost this vision of his Lord, for all he then could see were the various objects of the external world. Yet, deep in his heart he longed to find Krsna again and spent his life looking throughout the wide land for him. Parīkṣit looked into the face of each person he met to see if he or she were the Krsna from the depths of his memory. "Are you Krsna?" he would silently ask. Then of the next person, he would again ask: "Are you Krsna?" His entire life took the form of a spiritual search filled with his yearning to see Krsna again." ("Exquisite Love", William K. Mahony) He would become known as the Sage Parīkṣit "one who looks everywhere", because he would come to examine all human beings in his search for Krsna who he saw before his birth. As a result, history remembers Parīkṣit as a Godly man, learned and patient, kind and generous, benevolent like the object of his inner gaze.
If we are looking for happiness, than our perspective will only encompass that which we define as happiness. If we look for the commonality between us, we perhaps can see that each of us wishes for our own hearts happiness. Happiness, true happiness, in my mind strongly resembles peace. The kind of peace that creates an ease of mind; nothing is wanting, nothing is nagging, nothing is attacking or criticizing, nothing is held onto, even the object of our joy, all is free, and from this well of peace flows a still and ever expansive happiness. The Dali Lama suggests that we seek our happiness without infringing on the happiness of others. This is a large order to fill, as we are all interconnected, and a small choice that is founded in need, ripples out and becomes a limitation to other peoples happiness. The world we live in now does not create an easy environment for mindful caring honorable living, turning on a light may kill someone who is poisoned from the ecological devastation of mountain top coal mining, buying the t-shirt you can afford may become oil in the wheels that fail in a factory in Bangladesh. Yet if all we choose to look at are the wrongs we are doing while we have aspirations to do better, we steal from ourselves our own peace. Where we look, reveals what we see.
Where have you set your inner gaze? Where are you looking, what is being revealed? Does your vision encompass only your own happiness, or something bigger? Have you seen the flame of your heart in the face of another?
The Dali Lama says there are seven billion ways to be happy, it is all in how you choose to look at it.
May we be more like birds in our perspective, looking at the problem from 360 degrees like an owl, or from high above like an eagle, and continue to refine the scope of our inner gaze in order to see the bigger picture.