On happiness

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  • Ryumon
    Member
    • Apr 2007
    • 1705

    On happiness

    I'm reading a book about the four noble truths, written by a Tibetan. I find it interesting that the first two sentences of the book, in the forward, are:

    "The Buddha's message is a universal one. We all search for happiness but somehow fail to find it because we are looking for it in the wrong way."

    This made me think back to how I first got wind of the dharma.

    While I had actually bought and read two books on Zen in the early 1980s, influenced by John Cage's aleatory music and his discussions of Zen (they were Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and Zen Flesh and Bones; good choices, but there wasn't much else available at the time), my first real understanding of the dharma occurred in 1989. I was living in Oslo, Norway at the time, after having moved from New York City, where I grew up, to France. My wife was sent as an expat to work on a project, and I had been teaching English as a foreign language in France at the time, and got some work teaching in Oslo.

    One day, in the largest bookstore in the center of town, which had a fair number of books in English, I came across a book called The Buddhist Handbook, by John Snelling. (I see that there is an updated edition still in print: http://www.amazon.com/Buddhist-Handbook ... 0892817615) It was a simple book discussing the history of Buddhism, but it included a concise introduction to the Buddha's teachings. Now, while I don't remember a lot of precise moments in my life, I do recall sitting near the entrance of Vigelands Parken and reading a few pages of this book, and having a sudden flash of understanding. I don't recall what I read - I think it was a description of the four noble truths - but it lit up my mind in recognition of a truth. (Looking on Amazon at the beginning of chapter two of the book, I see a succinct summary of the dharma that is strongly at odds with the book I cited above. Snelling says:

    "What is the essence of Buddhism?

    Quite simply, it is the great question of who or what we are, right here, now, at this very moment."

    Thats what I've always been attracted to, not some desire for "happiness." Not that I think happiness is a bad thing, but, as the Grateful Dead song says:

    "When life looks like Easy Street
    There is danger at your door."

    I don't search for happiness; I don't think that's what I've ever searched for in the dharma. But I do search for a kind of balance, an acceptance of What Is, the "who or what we are" cited above.

    I've bloviated a bit, and I apologize, but the initial impetus for this post was a simple question. Why does the Tibetan tradition focus on "happiness" so much? (The book I'm reading is far from the only one that does; several books "written" by the Dalai Lama contain the word "happiness" in their titles.) Also, I find it interesting - and reassuring - that the Zen tradition doesn't seem to be fixated on happiness. Because isn't the quest for happiness something that the second noble truth warns us against?

    As for me, I'm not looking for happiness, or enlightenment; I'm just looking for is-ness...
    ---
    Ryūmon (Kirk)
    流文

    SAT/LAH

    I know nothing.
  • Jundo
    Treeleaf Founder and Priest
    • Apr 2006
    • 39419

    #2
    Re: On happiness

    Hey Kirk,

    Ya know, for the several decades I have been following this Practice, it has made me Happier, more profoundly Joyous, more Peaceful in heart, far beyond what I thought many years ago I would or could ever be in my life (it literally has saved me from a youth of despondency, stress and fear), made this life so good, so rich ... but it has never been about being happy, joyous or peaceful. :shock:

    What's more, it is often a kind of Happiness, Joy and Peace that does not require (and sure doesn't guaranty, believe you me **) that I will always feel happy happy happy-joy joy-peaceful peaceful all the time. Rather, it is sometimes a kind of Happiness that sweeps in sunny days and rainy days, smiles and tears ... a Peace that finds all life's broken pieces still somehow of one piece.

    We recently had a thread on a similar theme ...

    viewtopic.php?p=54558#p54558

    Gassho, J

    ** Just this morning, I am up so early due to some kind of bad dream I had related to the economy and the nearby nuclear reactors. I don't recall the content, but I woke in a sweat. Such is to be human! Going to bed reading headlines like this each night will tend to do that I suppose:

    http://enenews.com/radiation-hot-spots- ... panese-law

    However, just in the space of writing these words to everyone here ... most of all that healed, the fear evaporated! Such is the nature of this Practice. I also recall the two quotes from Joko I posted to today:

    viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3871
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    Comment

    • Seiryu
      Member
      • Sep 2010
      • 620

      #3
      Re: On happiness

      Here is my view on happiness:

      Never say I will be happy if...the minute that if comes into the picture you lose the causes to ever be happy. Why? because that 'if' can never be satisfied, it will just keep on going.

      Just be Happy

      Gassho

      Seiryu
      Humbly,
      清竜 Seiryu

      Comment

      • Taigu
        Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest
        • Aug 2008
        • 2710

        #4
        Re: On happiness

        Spot on Seiryu, true happiness knows no cause and has no bounds. It is always with you wether it is sunny or rainy.
        And, as I often repeat, this whole Buddhist thing is not about happiness ,although it does come along with it.
        What is it about then? None of my business to answer. Just practice and see for yourself.

        Gassho

        Taigu

        Comment

        • Hoyu
          Member
          • Nov 2010
          • 2020

          #5
          Re: On happiness

          Kirk wrote:

          This made me think back to how I first got wind of the dharma.

          While I had actually bought and read two books on Zen in the early 1980s, influenced by John Cage's aleatory music and his discussions of Zen (they were Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, and Zen Flesh and Bones; good choices, but there wasn't much else available at the time), my first real understanding of the dharma occurred in 1989. I was living in Oslo, Norway at the time, after having moved from New York City, where I grew up, to France. My wife was sent as an expat to work on a project, and I had been teaching English as a foreign language in France at the time, and got some work teaching in Oslo.

          One day, in the largest bookstore in the center of town, which had a fair number of books in English, I came across a book called The Buddhist Handbook, by John Snelling. (I see that there is an updated edition still in print: http://www.amazon.com/Buddhist-Handbook ... 0892817615) It was a simple book discussing the history of Buddhism, but it included a concise introduction to the Buddha's teachings. Now, while I don't remember a lot of precise moments in my life, I do recall sitting near the entrance of Vigelands Parken and reading a few pages of this book, and having a sudden flash of understanding. I don't recall what I read - I think it was a description of the four noble truths - but it lit up my mind in recognition of a truth. (Looking on Amazon at the beginning of chapter two of the book, I see a succinct summary of the dharma that is strongly at odds with the book I cited above. Snelling says:
          Hi Kirk,

          I really enjoyed reading your post here! You know a little more info and you have yourself a great Bio to post over in the Treeleaf Member Directory
          viewtopic.php?f=9&t=3519
          No pressure, I'm just saying.....

          Gassho,
          John
          Ho (Dharma)
          Yu (Hot Water)

          Comment

          • louis
            Member
            • Aug 2007
            • 172

            #6
            Re: On happiness

            Quite simply, it is the great question of who or what we are, right here, now, at this very moment."
            Bingo. I think as a youth I tied myself in loops over-analyzing. Now when happiness comes it is genuinely happy, and sadness too. Perhaps the focus on happiness is due to dropping the extra baggage, as it feels good to stop banging one's head against the wall.

            Comment

            • Ryumon
              Member
              • Apr 2007
              • 1705

              #7
              Re: On happiness

              Originally posted by JRBrisson
              I really enjoyed reading your post here! You know a little more info and you have yourself a great Bio to post over in the Treeleaf Member Directory
              Done.

              BTW, as you have an Emerson quote in your sig, allow me to pimp one of my websites, dedicated to Emerson, my favorite American writer, thinker, and occasional Zen master:

              http://www.readingemerson.com
              ---
              Ryūmon (Kirk)
              流文

              SAT/LAH

              I know nothing.

              Comment

              • Hoyu
                Member
                • Nov 2010
                • 2020

                #8
                Re: On happiness

                BTW, as you have an Emerson quote in your sig, allow me to pimp one of my websites, dedicated to Emerson, my favorite American writer, thinker, and occasional Zen master:
                Thanks for the link. Quite the impressive collection. I see your site is soon to have it's 2nd year anniversary. It speaks volumes about your passion!

                Gassho,
                John
                Ho (Dharma)
                Yu (Hot Water)

                Comment

                • Ryumon
                  Member
                  • Apr 2007
                  • 1705

                  #9
                  Re: On happiness

                  Originally posted by JRBrisson

                  Thanks for the link. Quite the impressive collection. I see your site is soon to have it's 2nd year anniversary. It speaks volumes about your passion!
                  There are indeed many more volumes to read!
                  ---
                  Ryūmon (Kirk)
                  流文

                  SAT/LAH

                  I know nothing.

                  Comment

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