Current Issue

Volume 42, No. 2, Summer 2017: HappinessParabola Volume 42, No. 2, Summer 2017: Happiness

The angel on the cover seems to embody happiness, our theme for Summer 2017. His smile and gaze emanate joy and contentment even though he is carved from stone. What might he know that we, mired in our difficult human lives, do not?

Beginning with Sufi master Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, who writes about the beneficence of cleaning, and ending with Helen Keller, who attained happiness in the midst of great affliction, this issue explores the nature of happiness and the ways men and women have shared in it, or not. We learn how Henry David Thoreau, who famously wrote that “the mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation,” discovered bliss in nature; how pilgrim Ann Sieben finds purpose and delight in walking from sacred site to site; how a prisoner has achieved a certain peace of mind, even on Death Row.

Happiness, we see, does not mean the absence of suffering. As G.I. Gurdjieff wrote, “Every real happiness for man can arise exclusively only from some unhappiness, also real, which he has already experienced.” The “pursuit of happiness,” enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence, is a worthwhile endeavor only when considered within the context of other pursuits—the search for meaning; acts of service; the following of conscience—that necessarily involve suffering, including of the ego. We can’t corral happiness directly any more than we can catch our own shadows.

And yet we see that happiness is attainable, because it always depends upon one universal aspect that we all share: that of relationship. We all exist within the world and its intricate web of energies and influences, both human and divine. As Tracy Cochran illumines in an essay here, fulfullment comes only through opening to that world around us; gripped by fear, she found happiness in a yoga studio where “someone swung open a door and welcomed me in.”

The first issue of Parabola, published more than forty years ago, focused on The Hero and her or his journey. That journey remains ours, and we also realize that no Hero stands alone and that the journey can be fulfilled only through the help of others and the grace of God.

—Jeff Zaleski

Cover Description: Photograph by  Eric Santos. Photo of L’Ange au Sourire, a stone statue on the west façade of the cathedral of Reims, France, carved between 1236 and 1245

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Table of Contents

ESSAYS AND CONVERSATIONS

Jiddu Krishnamurti, The True Meaning of Happiness: A great teacher points the way

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, The Art of Cleaning: Housework as spiritual practice, from a Sufi master

Patty de Llosa, Finding Joy: Sound, scientific guidance on attaining happiness

Kevin Dann, Spring Burst Upon Thoreau: The sage of Walden finds bliss

Tracy Cochran, The Golden Ticket: Reaching an understanding that no storm can shake

Guri Mehta, The Winter Pilgrim: A conversation with Ann Sieben, who walks the Way

Frédéric Lenoir, “Remember to Look Inside Yourself”: Bracing advice from the Stoic philosophers

Snigdha Manickavel, Driving Lessons: A young woman navigates the roads outside—and within

Adam Brock, The Gift: A celebration of the “currency of love”

Tami Simon, The Dharma of Dogs: A dog with a heart as wide as the world

Paramahansa Yogananda, Saint to Saint: The yoga master visits a Catholic mystic and stigmatic

Pavithra Mehta, Poetry as a Form of Love: A conversation with poet Barbara Crooker

Christina Feldman, Joy: Buddhist direction on cultivating the fields of joy

Daniel Pinchbeck , The Choice: Planet Earth is in crisis; which way lies happiness?

Rosalind Bradley, A Matter of Life and Death: Reflections from a Death Row inmate; inspired thoughts from a Sikh guide

Helen Keller, Something Unusual and Wonderful: The blind-deaf author discovers the world

POEMS

Naomi Shihab Nye  So Much Happiness
Barbara Crooker  The Stone
Barbara Crooker  Yes
Barbara Crooker  Sanctus
Barbara Crooker  Lemon

EPICYCLES

Tsunemasa Attributed to Zeami Motokiyo / Japanese Noh
Retold by Kenneth E. Lawrence, translated by Edward Kai Lawrence. Art by Kumiko Lawrence

Indra and the Parade of Ants Anonymous / Hindu
Retold by Liz Greene & Juliet Sharman-Burke

ARCS
We Hold These Truths

In Memoriam: Huston Smith
Parabola remembers a great scholar and friend

ENDPOINT