There is a social custom these days in America that involves smiling for photographs and for various social occasions. But often these smiles are not real. They're only in the mouth and not the heart. They’re a social gesture.
I learned about these fake smiles many years ago, when I had a meeting with an advanced yogi named Baba Hari Dass. Baba Hari Dass is a teacher and a mauni—a monk who practices silence. When I met him, he had not spoken for decades and communicated with students by writing brief notes on a little chalk board he carried.
During our meeting, I asked him some questions and his answers, written on the chalk board, were brief and impactful. It was clear to me that he saw deeply.
At one point in our meeting, I "smiled" and he didn't respond. This was disconcerting to me and got me to pay attention. His non-reaction enabled me to see the smile I'd made for what it was—fake. In looking at it, I felt the "smile" was an attempt to get him to like me.
At another point, later, in our conversation, I felt happy and my face broke into a real smile. He smiled back and I felt a connection with him.
This brief experience with Baba Hari Dass showed me the difference between the fake, social, mouth-only smiles that are common in our culture, and real smiles that begin with a feeling of joy in the heart and bloom over the whole face and body.
Fake smiles are not satisfying.
Have you ever noticed your smiles? Doing so is worth the trouble.