The Buddha was very clear that we should not take his word as gospel. Buddhism is an active religion in the sense that we are not passively receiving the truth. We have to put in some effort in order to realize it. I use the word realize because what’s important is not that we understand the teaching intellectually. That can be achieved simply by reading it. What we are aiming for is to realize it in the sense that we feel satisfied with the way things are more often even though our life circumstances have not changed. The difference is that in the former case, where we are operating on an intellectual level, we have understood what we want to achieve whereas in the later case, where we are operating on a practical level, we have actually made progress towards achieving it.

This brings me to the question of how do we check whether it is really true that we can be more satisfied without getting more in a material sense. If you can devote a few moments to this, you can check it yourself. When you remember during the day, simply bring the mind to what you are doing in the present moment. Then, ask yourself, during that time when I was paying attention to what I was doing, was I worried about the past or the future? Imagine you had the ability to keep the mind in that state more often. Would you be more satisfied with life in general or less satisfied? If you think that you would be more satisfied, then insight meditation is the most valuable and urgent investment you can make in your own happiness right now.

BONUS: something interesting happens once we are satisfied. We become better at life’s more mundane tasks, so material success follows naturally from spiritual success. This reality is the operation of karma, or cause and effect. When we spend more time in the present moment, we create good karma which leads directly to wiser decisions and happiness both on a spiritual and material level.

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