Habits of Happiness

Habits of Happiness

Discussion date: Thu, Feb 06, 2014 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

< is happiness and pleasure. But, if you look at the characteristics of those two, pleasure is contingent upon time, upon its object, upon the place. It is something that — changes of nature. Beautiful chocolate cake: first serving is delicious, second one not so much, then we feel disgust. (Laughter) That’s the nature of things. We get tired. I used to be a fan of Bach. I used to play it on the guitar, you know. I can hear it two, three, five times. If I had to hear it 24 hours, non-stop, it might be very tiring. If you are feeling very cold, you come near a fire, it’s so wonderful. Then, after some moments, you just go a little back, and then it starts burning. It sort of uses itself as you experience it. And also, again, it can — also, it’s something that you — it is not something that is radiating outside. Like, you can feel intense pleasure and some others around you can be suffering a lot.

Now, what, then, will be happiness? And happiness, of course, is such a vague word, so let’s say well-being. And so, I think the best definition, according to the Buddhist view, is that well-being is not just a mere pleasurable sensation. It is a deep sense of serenity and fulfillment, a state that actually pervades and underlies all emotional states, and all the joys and sorrows that can come one’s way. For you, that might be surprising. Can we have this kind of well-being while being sad? In a way, why not? Because we are speaking of a different level.

On Mind Training:

So, because the basic fabric of consciousness is this pure cognitive quality that differentiates it from a stone, there is a possibility for change because all emotions are fleeting. That is the ground for mind training. Mind training is based on the idea that two opposite mental factors cannot happen at the same time. You could go from love to hate. But you cannot, at the same time, toward the same object, the same person, want to harm and want to do good. You cannot, in the same gesture, shake hand and give a blow. So, there are natural antidotes to emotions that are destructive to our inner well-being. So that’s the way to proceed. Rejoicing compared to jealousy. A kind of sense of inner freedom as opposite to intense grasping and obsession. Benevolence, loving kindness against hatred. But, of course, each emotion then would need a particular antidote.

Another way is to try to find a general antidote to all emotions, and that’s by looking at the very nature. Usually, when we feel annoyed, hatred or upset with someone, or obsessed with something, the mind goes again and again to that object. Each time it goes to the object, it reinforces that obsession or that annoyance. So then, it’s a self-perpetuating process. So what we need to look now is, instead of looking outward, we look inward. Look at anger itself. It looks very menacing, like a billowing monsoon cloud or thunderstorm. But we think we could sit on the cloud — but if you go there, it’s just mist. Likewise, if you look at the thought of anger, it will vanish like frost under the morning sun. If you do this again and again, the propensity, the tendencies for anger to arise again will be less and less each time you dissolve it. And, at the end, although it may rise, it will just cross the mind, like a bird crossing the sky without leaving any track. So this is the principal of mind training.

in: Dharma Topics
Discussion Date: Thu, Feb 06, 2014


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