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Thread: How to Achieve Happiness

  1. #1
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    How to Achieve Happiness

    The Dalai Lama will tell you how, in a live webcast later today:

    http://circles.dalailamafoundation.o...alifornia-usa/

    I have a great deal of respect for the Dalai Lama, but I find that the Tibetan tradition - which was may gateway drug to the dharma, many years ago - puts too much emphasis on "happiness," and not enough of relieving suffering, and contentment. Perhaps, back in the day, I would have considered that sitting and the dharma were about finding happiness, but I know now that's not the case. Yet the Tibetans keep peddling the same old spiel...

    Contentment is, today, drinking a nice cup of tea, listening to Leonard Bernstein conducting Charles Ives, playing with my cat, talking with my girlfriend, and being sheltered from the winds outside. I've learned to be satisfied with simple things.

    Gassho,

    Kirk

  2. #2
    My last teacher just wrote an article on this, Kirk:

    http://www.tricycle.com/practice/forget-happiness


    In my experience with several Tibetan traditions, there is not much emphasis on happiness but it is certainly something HH Dalai Lama has written about repeatedly. While I understand that many of his books are aimed at lay people, I agree with you that aiming for happiness is not particularly helpful. What happens when you are not happy?

    Gassho
    Andy

  3. #3
    Senior Member kirkmc's Avatar
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    How to Achieve Happiness

    I think that if you aim for happiness, and you do not achieve it, then you can feel that you have failed. Also, a lot depends on what you consider happiness should be. Many people have very high expectations, and would therefore constantly fail.

    Gassho,

    Kirk


    (Posted from my iPhone; please excuse any typos or brevity.)
    -----

    I know nothing.

  4. #4
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    So you guys both agree...

    gassho

    Taigu

    PS:we share a lot. Kirk. And yes, happiness is no big deal, Andy.

    So I guess we all agree...
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Entai's Avatar
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    I think it's natural to want happiness. I also think there is a subtle difference between being happy and being content (at least in my mind there is). Content, being more "okay" with what life presents. Less struggle for or against it. In my opinion, contentment is more healthy and liberating. That said, I chase after the elusive "happiness" quite often....but I'm starting to notice when I do so. And the noticing helps keep things in check.

    Entai (Bill)
    "Be kind - for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle" - Plato

  6. #6
    Hello,

    the Dalai Lama is a wise and sly fox who knows how to create maximum exposure for his many coffee table books etc., knowing fully well that among all those people who get their views on spirituality solely from Oprah...some will follow the fox's tracks back to the den.

    And for those few, it will all have been worth it....those who get hooked on the happiness fly paper, well...it pays for a bunch of wonderful monasteries

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Chudo Mongen, Ordained Novice Priest-in-Training

  7. #7
    I wrote the following a couple of years ago about the tendency of the Dalai Lama and some other Tibetan writers to bandy the word "happiness" around in book titles. Perhaps some of you with more experience in the Tibetan traditions than me could say if my comment makes sense ...

    ================

    The Tibetans tend to speak of "Happiness" quite a bit in their books and talks ... but when looked at closely, it is much the same as the subtle Joy and Peace that we speak of in the Zen corner of the woods ... a Joy that holds comfortably the happy times and sad times, a Peace that is wholly all life's many pieces.

    Frankly, if somebody just wanted to be "happy happy happy", I think there are pharmaceuticals that will do the job faster and deeper than any meditation ... at least for a short time.

    I sometimes think that the Tibetans writers chose the word "Happiness" in their literature to impress Westerners. The problem is that some folks may hear that and think that they are going to find the key to 24/7 "laughing gas" happiness ... and are a bit disappointed when in fact what is delivered is something much more subtle (though fathomlessly richer). I once wrote ...

    Even in Tibetan Buddhism's emphasis on "happiness" ... such words might disguise the real teaching of the Dalai Lama and most Tibetan Teachers I know (same message as here at Treeleaf, in fact) that the point of this Practice is not the attaining of a happy happy ha ha happy happiness all the time (I have never met such a constantly giddy Tibetan teacher, and who would want such a state ... like only watching the comedy movies and never the drama!), but of a certain subtle Happiness (big "H") that transcends AND yet fully contains both the happy times and the sad, smiles and tears, the rainy days and sunny days, as judged by small human eyes in this life of Samsara. I do not think they are teaching people to feel happy that their mother died or tickled that there is a war somewhere in the world ... but a Boundless Joy and Buddha's Smile that shines through all that life can dish out.

    A Buddha's Happiness transcends and holds small human "happy and sad".



    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  8. #8
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Thank you.


    Gassho,
    Myosha
    Practice with humility, respect all beings, avoid attachments, give rise to prajña from your own awareness, put an end to delusions - Hui-neng

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Hans View Post
    Hello,

    the Dalai Lama is a wise and sly fox who knows how to create maximum exposure for his many coffee table books etc., knowing fully well that among all those people who get their views on spirituality solely from Oprah...some will follow the fox's tracks back to the den.

    And for those few, it will all have been worth it....those who get hooked on the happiness fly paper, well...it pays for a bunch of wonderful monasteries

    Gassho,

    Hans Chudo Mongen
    Good point. Hadn't thought of it like that.

    Gassho
    Shōmon

  10. #10
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Good info here. Just wanted to add this...

    “for most of life, nothing wonderful happens. if you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. if someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. if, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

    ~ Andy Rooney


    Gassho,
    Joyo


  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Joyo View Post
    Good info here. Just wanted to add this...

    “for most of life, nothing wonderful happens. if you don’t enjoy getting up and working and finishing your work and sitting down to a meal with family or friends, then the chances are that you’re not going to be very happy. if someone bases his happiness or unhappiness on major events like a great new job, huge amounts of money, a flawlessly happy marriage or a trip to Paris, that person isn’t going to be happy much of the time. if, on the other hand, happiness depends on a good breakfast, flowers in the yard, a drink or a nap, then we are more likely to live with quite a bit of happiness.”

    ~ Andy Rooney


    Gassho,
    Joyo

    Yes, the late American TV commentator Andy Rooney was a wise fellow.

    And I would add, also nothing wrong with enjoying the odd "celebration of getting a great new job" or vacation trip when they happen too. When working work, when on vacation, just be there too. Even Zen Monks got vacations from the monastery.

    Also, do not forget to "Enjoy" (Big "E") the unenjoyable (little "e") times of sickness, death of those we love, losing the great job and the like. It is trickier to see through those times, and find the Peace & Joy that holds even our tears and fears. In fact, they may still suck lemons. However, such is possible too, and lemons are filled with juicy life.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 02-24-2014 at 05:04 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    In fact, they may still suck lemons. However, such is possible too, and lemons are filled with juicy life.
    We would be unable to acknowledge the sweet without knowing the sour

    Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk

  13. #13
    There is a Sweet (Big "S") which holds sweet, sour and all the other sensations and textures of the tongue.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  14. #14
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Ah yes, very true, Jundo. Good reminder

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  15. #15
    I really don't think any serious (another great word, eh?) practitioner of any lineage of Buddhism means to deceive with words like happiness, mindfulness, loving-kindness or any other Buddhism-ness. It was merely a matter of trying to pick good translations for well established concepts. HOWEVER, I'm really not sure I can say the same about some major publishing houses and the burgeoning McMindfulness culture. In that case I suspect deception in aid of book sales may really be at hand, even when what's inside the book is genuine.

    Gassho,

    Dave.

  16. #16
    However, such is possible too, and lemons are filled with juicy life.



    My 12 year old niece was telling me about 'sayings' that she found helpful. As she was leaving she said (with a big smile) - 'when life gives you lemons make lemonade'


    Gassho

    Willow




  17. #17
    Senior Member Clark's Avatar
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    NOT meaning to sound like a Debbie Downer here, but I have found that this practice seems to suggest that the moments of "Great Happiness" are just as fleeting and perhaps illusory as the rest. I am not suggesting that we do not enjoy these for what they are, but for me, I have seen less of a push to make these happen. I am beginning to be just as "Happy" on Monday Morning as I am on Friday afternoon. Another thing I have noticed is the things that used to make me happy don't really do much for me anymore. I also seem to notice that some of the things that other's seems to have great desire for, are no longer as important. There definitely seems to be a much greater difference between "Big H happiness" and escapism.

    Gassho
    C

  18. #18
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Clark View Post
    NOT meaning to sound like a Debbie Downer here, but I have found that this practice seems to suggest that the moments of "Great Happiness" are just as fleeting and perhaps illusory as the rest. I am not suggesting that we do not enjoy these for what they are, but for me, I have seen less of a push to make these happen. I am beginning to be just as "Happy" on Monday Morning as I am on Friday afternoon. Another thing I have noticed is the things that used to make me happy don't really do much for me anymore. I also seem to notice that some of the things that other's seems to have great desire for, are no longer as important. There definitely seems to be a much greater difference between "Big H happiness" and escapism.
    Gassho
    C
    I don't think you sound like a Debbie Downer at all. It's reality, and a much healthier way to live. Yes, life is wonderful when surrounded by people, events, or things that are fun and entertaining. But sometimes the down times, or the "Monday mornings" of our life, can have equally wonderful components to them.

    For me personally, with practicing Zen, I've noticed things I do for an escape, almost an avoidance to avoid stress or anxiety. Being mindful of these things has helped me to stop the escaping, and just sit with what is. I grew up on a farm and had this one really wild horse that I used to ride. I always liken the avoidance and just sitting like taking that wild horse, and restraining him. Oh, he hates it and wants to run, buck, and rear up. But, with just sitting, he is forced to just sit.

    Gassho,
    Joyo

  19. #19
    nice reading.i feel good.
    _/\_
    gilles

  20. #20
    I beleve that happinessis aipeak experienc not something that can be sustained over time whilst contentment has a much better chance.
    Gasho

  21. #21
    Happiness is found within.
    One finds happiness with each breath, each encounter and each understanding of energy of life.
    We all all happy, there are days in which is it is just more apparent to us.

    Wonderful comments for everyone, thank you for sharing.
    Gassho,
    Chelsea

  22. #22
    There are a lot of very unhappy people in the world who are searching for some sort of relief from their misery. That is the first Noble Truth. Now, while HHDL is a very spiritual man, if he were to come right out and state all the Buddha's teachings many would lose interest and turn away before they learned any more. I believe he is using the word "happiness" to mean "an end to suffering", which is the third Noble Truth. I have read some of his writings and he does tend to emphasize the second and fourth Truths, in that our Western culture does focus on achieving "happiness" through inherently unsuccessful means and he hints at the "simple" ways of the Eight-Fold Path. The Dalai Lama is a very intelligent and joyful man who has clearly attained a great insight into life and he has the bodhisattva wish to end others' suffering. His teaching is very sincere and well-crafted and may just lead one suffering being to find an end to his or her unhappiness. Isn't that the mahayana way?

  23. #23
    Any time the subject of happiness comes up, I'm reminded of this passage from one of my favorite novels. The Count of Monte Cristo.

    “There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

    If we accept that the past is irrelevant to our experience of the present moment, is there really any such thing as happiness at all? Perhaps the concept of it is nothing more than a convenient fiction.

    Gassho,
    W


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by William View Post
    Any time the subject of happiness comes up, I'm reminded of this passage from one of my favorite novels. The Count of Monte Cristo.

    “There is neither happiness nor misery in the world; there is only the comparison of one state with another, nothing more. He who has felt the deepest grief is best able to experience supreme happiness. We must of felt what it is to die, Morrel, that we may appreciate the enjoyments of life.

    If we accept that the past is irrelevant to our experience of the present moment, is there really any such thing as happiness at all? Perhaps the concept of it is nothing more than a convenient fiction.

    Gassho,
    W


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
    I like to be happy! Nothing wrong with happy! YIPPEE!

    But crazy fellow that I am, I also kinda like now to be sad. Sad is life too. Nothing wrong with sad sometimes (although sometimes it is really hard, and not as much fun as happy). YIPPEE!

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

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