Buddhist Belief – Do You Want Happiness?
“The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.” – Atisha (Buddhist Restorationist)
As I’ve mentioned in past articles, I belong to a Buddhist Meditation Group. We met yesterday evening and had a lengthy discussion about one of the basic lessons of Buddhist Belief. This is the lesson of seeing what is, acknowledging it without judging it as right or wrong, and then letting go and coming back to the present moment.
As our discussion on this topic continued, it seemed as though our feelings went quite deep. We talked about being hard-wired — about how certain actions and responses we take to circumstances in our lives are unavoidable because that’s “who we are”. We’re human beings so we have to be the way we are.
Now, I admit I wasn’t in a very good mood when I came to the meditation. However, as the evening progressed, I began to sense I wasn’t the only one who wasn’t feeling too positive about life that day. I’ve given my feelings about this meeting a lot of thought today. I need to put these thoughts into writing for this blog. These are only my thoughts — they’re words to indicate how I understand the teachings of Buddha. In expressing these thoughts I understand how others who have studied the teachings may, or may not, agree with what I say today.
As the above quotation from Atisha would indicate, the aim of the Buddhist life is to reach for enlightenment. It is more about the journey than the destination. This may sound obvious, but you have to want happiness to have it. You have to want to be happy more than you want to be you (the ego you), with all your stories, beliefs, opinions, judgments, dreams, and memories. Happiness will never be found in being the ego you, not even in being a better, improved version of that you; it can only be found in losing your ego-self — losing all thoughts that relate to the me –and finding your true self.
Is there a price to be paid for happiness? In my own life I’ve discovered that happiness isn’t attained by working harder, or having more money, more success, or more friends. We never seem to have enough of these things to be happy. What I believe to be the secret is that as long as I’m focused on my little ego-me I’ll keep missing the goal of happiness because the ego-me doesn’t know how to be happy. Once we get past believing that we are our ego-selves we will discover true happiness. When we discover who we really are, we don’t need anything to make us happy because we already are.
The real you has always been happy, and it has always been possible for you to feel this happiness. Whenever you stop thinking or stop paying attention to your thoughts, (like can happen when you have a good meditation), there it is: peace, contentment, happiness, and joy. It turns out that the only thing in the way of your happiness is your thoughts about you. As Buddha taught, involvement or attachment with this you (the ego self), is the cause of suffering. This ego-you and suffering go hand-in-hand: You can’t have one without the other. So, the choice is clear: You can be involved with all your thoughts about you and suffer or you can be involved with the true essence of you, and be happy by ignoring your thoughts.
Although this choice is clear, it’s no piece of cake to make it happen, is it? Let’s face it, we love our stories, beliefs, opinions, judgments, memories, fantasies, and other ideas. We love them more than we love our true essence. We want to be who we think we are more than we want to stop suffering. When it comes to choosing between our ideas and love, we often choose our ideas. There’s no blame in this. It’s like one of our members said last night, we’re hard-wired to make this choice. Nevertheless, there comes a point in our evolution, when it’s time to wake up out of our programming and make the other choice. When this time comes, essence’s pull will become stronger.
This is the point where most of us are, right now, or we wouldn’t be talking about this or reading about it. It’s time to see that we don’t have to suffer. There is another way to live, but we have to choose it, and doing this is not so easy because of our programming. The hardest thing about making this choice is that it has to be made again and again — in every new moment. This is what we read last night at the beginning of our discussion.
We’re never done with making this choice because the ego part of us will still bug us constantly even long after we’ve realized who we truly are. That ego-mind will weaken as we pay less and less attention to it, but it will continue to tempt us with stories, judgments, opinions, fantasies, and memories. We may learn to see these thoughts for what they are, but they’ll still have some power to draw us in.
Yes, the ego part of us is strong, but it’s only as strong as the attention we give it. We can’t change the hard-wiring, but we can change our relationship to it. When we make this choice, the programming will weaken. It’s the only way to true happiness, and we’re the only ones who can make this choice. Waking up is really hard, but is it as hard as suffering? We tend to think so because it’s so comfortable to stay asleep.
How long do we have to keep bouncing back and forth between the ego-us and the true essence of who we are? Who knows? It could last a lifetime, but Buddha taught us it doesn’t have to. The more we choose to ignore our ego’s pull, the stronger our true voice will become. One day we’ll discover our desire to awaken is so strong that ignoring the ego becomes easy. That’s the day when we’ll be on our way to true freedom — to true happiness.
As usual, I’ve run longer than I intended. To those in our group last night who read this, these are the things I wanted to say during our meeting, but, I am much clearer in my thinking when I take the time to write. To everyone else, I hope you see something of value here. If you have any comments, I’d love to hear them.
So, until the next time I am moved to write here again ….
Namaste — Be in Peace.
I came across this article the other day and it does relate to some extent to what I wrote about above. I don’t have any notes about where I found it or who wrote it. It was in a file I saved many years ago.
Find Tranquility and Peace in Shambhala
While driving through a nearby town the other day I stopped at a red light and on one of the buildings on an adjacent street there was a large red sign that said “Shambhala.” It piqued my curiosity and decided to investigate. Shambhala, also spelled Shambala or Shamballa, is a Sanskrit phrase combining the words swayam and bhala meaning “self benefited” or “self powered.”
Often known as a center of tranquility or place of happiness, Shambhala is best described as a state of meditation, although for people immersed in it, Shambhala is known as a hidden kingdom in the Tibetan religion of Buddhism. Some say Shambhala is an actual physical place that exists somewhere in what was once part of the Philippines. If it is not a physical place, it is thought to be found through the mind. The 14th Dalai Lama even suggested during the 1985 Kalachakra initiation in Bodhgaya that it is not found in any country but euphoria for a select few, “Although those with special affiliation may actually be able to go there through their karmic connection, nevertheless it is not a physical place that we can actually find. We can only say that it is a pure land, a pure land in the human realm. And unless one has the merit and the actual karmic association, one cannot actually arrive there.”
In order to get to the “Shambhala,” physically or spiritually, you need to first get past the one big hurdle in the process: You. The Shambhala teaches that every person has fundamentals instilled in them when they are born. These fundamental natures are of goodness, intelligence, and warmth. Through rigorous dedication to the teachings and meditation you can help bring out your nature daily and encourage it to grow. By stimulating your inner fundamentals you can inspire your friends and family to do the same and make life a bit better for everyone in your circle.
If encouraging the fundamentals can bring happiness, inviting the opposite natures into your life can bring upheaval. The three main emotions that oppose Shambhala’s teachings are doubt, egotism, and fear. People who follow the track of Shambhala believe that by overcoming these negative elements, awakening our true intelligence will define you as a human being.
This journey of awakening is also called the path of the warrior. The main idea behind a warrior’s path is that the warrior (or person undertaking this feat) will have to summon the courage to look inside themselves to find the “ultimate truth.” There are other main practices in the ancient art of Shambhala, but the warrior path is most important. Looking inside yourself is also popular in the modern natural health world but goes by the name Mindful-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR).
In order to see clearly, Shambhala stays true to the ideas of Buddhism, but encourages the specific journey of self-reflection and self-expression. With hundreds of spiritual centers teaching this journey around the world, Shambhala believers are able to share their connection with others who either want to be enlightened or are already on the way to an open and honest relationship with their inner self.
If you are already full of peace and are able to reach a meditative state as easy as any unenlightened soul like me can reach over and turn off the morning alarm clock, you are what the Buddhists call a bodhisattva, or “enlightened being.” This person has the task of helping others reach the ultimate state of utopia, what the Buddhists call nirvana. Although the only Nirvana I have had the pleasure of knowing is the ’90s grunge band, and my attempts at meditation often end up in an acute sense of hearing a fly buzzing about the room, I am not completely giving up. If you—like me—would like to be the happiest you could be within your life, give Shambhala a try, or if you can’t find a red sign nearby, try simply looking inside your inner self and getting rid of those negative emotions.
For those who wanted me to repeat the links for the books I’ve mentioned in the last few articles, here they are again — And, I have added a new book for you by Pema Chodron. It’s the last one in the list. I highly recommend all these books to you:
Sharon Salzberg — The Kindness Handbook
“It takes boldness, even audacity, to step out of our habitual patterns and experiment with a quality like kindness–to work with it and see just how it might shift and open up our lives. This book is an invitation to do just that.” – From The Kindness Handbook — “The Kindness Handbook
Eckhart Tolle’s amazing best seller, “A New Earth”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor’s wonderful book, “My Stroke of Insight” — “Nirvana is just a breath away!”
And this one by Sharon Salzberg and is entitled: “A Heart as Wide as the World: Living with Mindfulness, Wisdom and Compassion“.
This is a new one for you by Pema Chodron entitled: “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
Always remember this wonderful quote from Buddha ….
“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.”
Shanti everyone, … (A sanscrit word meaning, “Let there be Peace. Peace, beautiful Peace. Peace within, Peace without. Peace in this world. Peace for all beings.”)
“Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without.”
Have a peaceful day!! —
Tags: attachment, Buddha, Buddhism, Buddhist, Buddhist Belief, detachment, Eightfold Path, First Noble Truth, Four Noble Truths, Fourth Noble Truth, inner peace, karma, loving kindness, Meditation, metta, mindfulness, Nirvana, Peace, Second Noble Truth, Third Noble Truth