Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

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Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Individual » Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:13 pm

In the suttas the Buddha tells followers to "do not delight" -- in anything, not just sensual pleasures, but also the Buddha's own teachings.

Often, western Buddhism is geared towards finding happiness and contentment because that's what a lot of people want, so being compassionate, Buddhists help them find it (I know that's an oversimplification). But is it good for all Buddhists to always be focused on getting more and more and more happiness?

When developing the jhanas, it is the lowest jhanas which are characterized by rapture and pleasure, while the higher jhanas are characterized by equanimity.

How does one practice this, when they observe themselves getting drunk on happiness? In the Middle Way, we should not practice indulgence or masochism, so how do we deal with happiness, without indulging ("delighting") in it or without feeling a need to push happiness away, to make ourselves miserable or stoic?

Sadness is obviously a heavy burden, but is it possible that one could traverse samsara while still being happy?
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby BubbaBuddhist » Wed Oct 06, 2010 5:48 pm

I'm not sure most people really know what happiness is. Some people think it's euphoria; and that's not happiness, it's temporary intoxication. I think for most people, if they hurt a little less today than they did yesterday, this feels like happiness. For me, if I'm totally absorbed into something that interests me, I mean completely lost in it, I'm blissful., and I call that happiness, but it probably isn't So I'm in the same boat as everyone else: I have word I call "happiness" with no real notion of what it means. I could look it up in the dictionary but that wouldn't mean anything in terms of experiential reality. :D

I think that's why we're constantly seeking happiness--we don't know what it is we're looking for. You know the old joke, "Why is everything's always in the last place you look? Because when you find it, you stop looking." Exactly. :P

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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Fede » Wed Oct 06, 2010 6:07 pm

You can never have too much happiness. providing you do two things:
Give it away.
Know 'this too shall pass'.

You can have and hold as much happiness as you want, providing you Realise you will have to let go at one point, as needs must.
"Samsara: The human condition's heartbreaking inability to sustain contentment." Elizabeth Gilbert, 'Eat, Pray, Love'.

Simplify: 17 into 1 WILL go: Mindfulness!

Quieta movere magna merces videbatur. (Sallust, c.86-c.35 BC)
Translation: Just to stir things up seemed a good reward in itself. ;)

I am sooooo happy - How on earth could I be otherwise?! :D


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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Individual » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:03 pm

Bubbabuddhist wrote:I'm not sure most people really know what happiness is. Some people think it's euphoria; and that's not happiness, it's temporary intoxication.

I would define it as a persistent sense of bliss which is independent of the circumstances. So, it is more than a short-term feeling and it also doesn't rely on having a specific lifestyle (although obviously some lifestyles are more or less conducive to happiness than others).

Also, I should've mentioned: happiness feels tiring. I suppose when I say that I'm talking more about a short-term phenomenon, but I notice that sometimes if I feel giddy, I have to take a deep breath and relax that, or else a few hours later I'll feel sloth & torpor. Not anxiety and depression (I'm not a manic depressive), but it simply feels like my brain had to consume so much energy to generate the euphoric feeling, that I have nothing left later to do basic tasks. So I have to take a nap. But if I take naps, sometimes that makes it difficult to go to sleep at night.
The best things in life aren't things.

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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Shonin » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:11 pm

As I see it the point is to be free of conditions. Delighting in something is conditional pleasure. Buddhism is about freeing the mind.
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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Hanzze » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:25 pm

_/\_
Last edited by Hanzze on Sun Oct 31, 2010 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Just that! *smile*
...We Buddhists must find the courage to leave our temples and enter the temples of human experience, temples that are filled with suffering. If we listen to Buddha, Christ, or Gandhi, we can do nothing else. The refugee camps, the prisons, the ghettos, and the battlefields will become our temples. We have so much work to do. ... Peace is Possible! Step by Step. - Samtach Preah Maha Ghosananda "Step by Step" http://www.ghosananda.org/bio_book.html

BUT! it is important to become a real Buddhist first. Like Punna did: Punna Sutta Nate sante baram sokham _()_
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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Ytrog » Wed Oct 06, 2010 7:52 pm

I would say that happiness is good, as long as you don't have any attachment to it, face it with right view and see it as not permanent.

It is wonderful if you feel happy or blissful, but remember that it doesn't last and find comfort in the fact that unhappy states aren't permanent either.
I find that if you contemplate the impermanence of your happy our unhappy state that a more equinimous gets in it's place most of the time.
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby dhammapal » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:02 am

In January 2009 I asked a question in the Psychology section of Yahoo Answers:
"How can I be happy when so many people are suffering?"
Some people said not to worry because I didn't cause the suffering or
that I should feel happy about helping suffering people as much as I
am able to. My favorite answer though, which I won't quote uncensored
here, flamed me asking "Are you kidding me? Are you really asking
this!?" expressing annoyance at my "lame" question. I think he might
have a point: that if I use logic and comparisons in order to decide
that I shouldn't be happy, then I become useless at forming
friendships and cultivating good mental health. I now feel liberated
from the assumption that happiness only comes at the end of the path,
whether or not I follow the bodhisattva path of liberating all beings
before entering Nirvana.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Buddhavih ... ssage/3798

With metta / dhammapal.
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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby lojong1 » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:44 am

Individual wrote:Sadness is obviously a heavy burden, but is it possible that one could traverse samsara while still being happy?

Delighting doesn't get you out, but it ain't so bad.

"idha nandati pecca nandati katapuñño ubhayattha nandati
puññaṃ me katan ti nandati bhiyyo nandati sugatiṃ gato
(DhP 18)

Translation:

He is delighted (nandati=he delights) here, he is delighted after death, in both states is the well-doer delighted.
He is delighted [by the thought] "I have done good". He is delighted even more, having gone to a good birth.
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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Ytrog » Fri Oct 08, 2010 12:49 pm

"How can I be happy when so many people are suffering?"

Well, if you are happy there is a little less suffering in the world than when you aren't ;)
Suffering is asking from life what it can never give you.


mindfulness, bliss and beyond (page 8) wrote:Do not linger on the past. Do not keep carrying around coffins full of dead moments


If you see any unskillful speech (or other action) from me let me know, so I can learn from it.
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Re: Isn't too much happiness a bad thing?

Postby Individual » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:35 pm

Ytrog wrote:
"How can I be happy when so many people are suffering?"

Well, if you are happy there is a little less suffering in the world than when you aren't ;)

Depends on what you mean. Yes, happiness can be the laying down of the burden, being freed from chains, released from slavery... But the kind of euphoria in heavenly rebirth is also dukkha.
The best things in life aren't things.

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