Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

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Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby christopher::: » Mon Mar 08, 2010 12:43 am

Can one rely on happiness as a kind of inner compass or guide for dhamma practice? In other words- as long as we understand the Buddha's directions properly- then we should experience greater peace, tranquility, happiness and a reduction in our suffering. If not, then we are probably doing something wrong, or have stumbled onto a challenge and need to investigate that further. In this manner the cultivation of wholesome mind states, qualities and actions leads directly to greater happiness & freedom from suffering.

Does this assessment correspond with your understanding and experience?

:anjali:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


The word Dharma in Sanskrit, or Dhamma in Pali, is a huge umbrella term with many different meanings. Among others, it means the truth of the way things are. It means the specific elements of experience and the natural laws that govern that experience. Dharma also refers to the teachings of the Buddha and the paths of practice that lead to awakening. So Dharma is all-inclusive. Everything is the Dharma; everything follows its own lawful nature.

The Buddha saw with such clarity how different states of mind and courses of action lead to different results. Unwholesome mind states have certain consequences. Wholesome mind states have results of their own. As we begin to understand the truth of how things are, we see for ourselves what brings suffering to our lives, and what brings happiness and freedom.

In true spiritual undertakings there is no compulsion. The Buddha laid out a comprehensive map of reality. When we understand the map well, we can choose freely which direction we want to take. It is simple. If we want to be happy, and if we understand the causes for happiness, then, when we cultivate those causes, happiness follows.

~Joseph Goldstein
Insight Meditation: The Practice of Freedom


~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Choices

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with an impure mind
And trouble will follow you
As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart.

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts we make the world.
Speak or act with a pure mind
And happiness will follow you
As your shadow, unshakable.

"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Live with such thoughts and you live in hate.

"Look how he abused me and hurt me,
How he threw me down and robbed me."
Abandon such thoughts, and live in love.

In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.

This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.

~Buddha
The Dhammapada
Thomas Byron translation


:heart:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Mukunda » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:18 pm

The challenge is understanding what real happiness is. To do that, I've experienced a lot unhappiness pursuing harmful things. My practice taught me to be dissatisfied with that, which led me to better pursuits, but that dissatisfaction was hardly "happiness".
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby jcsuperstar » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:35 pm

The happiness felt in the everyday lives of ordinary people is one meaning of happiness. Then, there is the other kind of happiness, the happiness that arises with the realization of the final goal of life. There are these two very different things, but we call both of them " happiness." Generally, we mix up these two meanings, confuse them, and never quite understand what we're talking about.


happiness and hunger by buddhadasa

give it a read

http://www.buddhadasa.com/naturaltruth/happiness1.html
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the mountain may be heavy in and of itself, but if you're not trying to carry it it's not heavy to you- Ajaan Suwat
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby m0rl0ck » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:08 am

christopher::: wrote:Can one rely on happiness as a kind of inner compass or guide for dhamma practice?


Yes. Unless its conditioned happiness.
Joshu was asked,
"When a man comes to you with nothing,
what would you say to him ?"
Joshu replied, "Throw it away!"
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:12 am

This does seem to be the crucial thing. To use happiness as an inner compass one has to be sure that it's the kind of happiness Buddha talked of and encouraged.

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby bodom » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:20 am

On a side note that is a terrible translation of the dhammapada. :toilet:

:anjali:
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 12, 2010 12:24 am

Yeah, Byron's translations sound a lot like Western poetry. Here's some excerpts from a book by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana...

:smile:

"Happiness and peace. Those are really the prime issues in human existence. That is what all of us are seeking. This often is a bit hard to see because we cover up those basic goals with layers of surface objectives. We want food, we want money, we want sex, possessions and respect. We even say to ourselves that the idea of 'happiness' is too abstract: "Look, I am practical. Just give me enough money and I will buy all the happiness I need". Unfortunately, this is an attitude that does not work. Examine each of these goals and you will find they are superficial. You want food. Why? Because I am hungry. So you are hungry, so what? Well if I eat, I won't be hungry and then I'll feel good. Ah ha! Feel good! Now there is a real item. What we really seek is not the surface goals. They are just means to an end. What we are really after is the feeling of relief that comes when the drive is satisfied. Relief, relaxation and an end to the tension. Peace, happiness, no more yearning.

So what is this happiness? For most of us, the perfect happiness would mean getting everything we wanted, being in control of everything, playing Caesar, making the whole world dance a jig according to our every whim. Once again, it does not work that way. Take a look at the people in history who have actually held this ultimate power. These were not happy people. Most assuredly they were not men at peace with themselves. Why? Because they were driven to control the world totally and absolutely and they could not. They wanted to control all men and there remained men who refused to be controlled. They could not control the stars. They still got sick. They still had to die.

You can't ever get everything you want. It is impossible. Luckily, there is another option. You can learn to control your mind, to step outside of this endless cycle of desire and aversion. You can learn to not want what you want, to recognize desires but not be controlled by them. This does not mean that you lie down on the road and invite everybody to walk all over you . It means that you continue to live a very normal-looking life, but live from a whole new viewpoint. You do the things that a person must do, but you are free from that obsessive, compulsive drivenness of your own desires. You want something, but you don't need to chase after it. You fear something, but you don't need to stand there quaking in your boots. This sort of mental culture is very difficult. It takes years. But trying to control everything is impossible, and the difficult is preferable to the impossible...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Dhammapada is an ancient Buddhist text which anticipated Freud by thousands of years. It says: "What you are now is the result of what you were. What you will be tomorrow will be the result of what you are now. The consequences of an evil mind will follow you like the cart follows the ox that pulls it. The consequences of a purified mind will follow you like you own shadow. No one can do more for you than your own purified mind-- no parent, no relative, no friend, no one. A well-disciplined mind brings happiness".

Meditation is intended to purify the mind. It cleanses the thought process of what can be called psychic irritants, things like greed, hatred and jealousy, things that keep you snarled up in emotional bondage. It brings the mind to a state of tranquility and awareness, a state of concentration and insight.

In our society, we are great believers in education. We believe that knowledge makes a cultured person civilized. Civilization, however, polishes the person superficially. Subject our noble and sophisticated gentleman to stresses of war or economic collapse, and see what happens. It is one thing to obey the law because you know the penalties and fear the consequences. It is something else entirely to obey the law because you have cleansed yourself from the greed that would make you steal and the hatred that would make you kill. Throw a stone into a stream. The running water would smooth the surface, but the inner part remains unchanged. Take that same stone and place it in the intense fires of a forge, and the whole stone changes inside and outside. It all melts. Civilization changes man on the outside. Meditation softens him within, through and through.

Meditation is called the Great Teacher. It is the cleansing crucible fire that works slowly through understanding. The greater your understanding, the more flexible and tolerant you can be. The greater your understanding, the more compassionate you can be. You become like a perfect parent or an ideal teacher. You are ready to forgive and forget. You feel love towards others because you understand them. And you understand others because you have understood yourself. You have looked deeply inside and seen self illusion and your own human failings. You have seen your own humanity and learned to forgive and to love. When you have learned compassion for yourself, compassion for others is automatic. An accomplished meditator has achieved a profound understanding of life, and he inevitably relates to the world with a deep and uncritical love.

Meditation is a lot like cultivating a new land. To make a field out of a forest, first you have to clear the trees and pull out the stumps. Then you till the soil and you fertilize it. Then you sow your seed and you harvest your crops. To cultivate your mind, first you have to clear out the various irritants that are in the way, pull them right out by the root so that they won't grow back. Then you fertilize. You pump energy and discipline in the mental soil. Then you sow the seed and you harvest your crops of faith, morality , mindfulness and wisdom."

~ Venerable Henepola Gunaratana
from: Mindfulness in Plain English
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby ground » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:50 am

Happiness as dharma guide leads directly to the deva realms which are said to be included in the realms of suffering.

Kind regards
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby christopher::: » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:33 am

TMingyur wrote:Happiness as dharma guide leads directly to the deva realms which are said to be included in the realms of suffering.

Kind regards


On the road to enlightenment, isn't every step still included in the realms of suffering? The challenge of course is to make sure we're traveling in the right direction.

:smile:

1. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with an impure mind a person speaks or acts suffering follows him like the wheel that follows the foot of the ox.

2. Mind precedes all mental states. Mind is their chief; they are all mind-wrought. If with a pure mind a person speaks or acts happiness follows him like his never-departing shadow.

3. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who harbor such thoughts do not still their hatred.

4. "He abused me, he struck me, he overpowered me, he robbed me." Those who do not harbor such thoughts still their hatred.

5. Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal.


~Buddha
Dhammapada
Acharya Buddharakkhita's translation
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby ground » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:02 pm

christopher::: wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Happiness as dharma guide leads directly to the deva realms which are said to be included in the realms of suffering.

Kind regards


On the road to enlightenment, isn't every step still included in the realms of suffering? The challenge of course is to make sure we're traveling in the right direction.

:smile:



Actually the 12 links of DO express that there is neither way nor road out of suffering. So to head for happiness or non-suffering does not appear to make any difference in terms of "staying within the sphere of suffering". "Direction" is circular. Of course not many will share my view and it doesn't seem to be Theravada view. Therefore please accept my apologies for this post.
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Mar 12, 2010 7:39 pm

I don't think happiness is a reliable inner compass by which you can measure progress along the path, as has already been mentioned so much of human happiness is conditioned and dependant on circumstance.

Contentment and a sense of well being when things are going badly is probably better.

Even better is when one stops looking for an inner compass, when one stops looking for confirmation of progress. That shows one that the progress is real and tangible and there is no need to doubt it. The desire for an inner compass or confirmation of progress is after all just another attachment.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby meindzai » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:20 pm

TMingyur wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
TMingyur wrote:Happiness as dharma guide leads directly to the deva realms which are said to be included in the realms of suffering.

Kind regards


On the road to enlightenment, isn't every step still included in the realms of suffering? The challenge of course is to make sure we're traveling in the right direction.

:smile:



Actually the 12 links of DO express that there is neither way nor road out of suffering.



Oh really?

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of birth is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of becoming is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration....

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of clinging is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of craving is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of feeling is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of contact is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of the six sense media is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of name-&-form is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of consciousness is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of fabrication is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of ignorance is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...

...And the way of practice leading to the cessation of fermentation is just this very noble eightfold path: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration...


Sammaditthi Sutta: Right View


So to head for happiness or non-suffering does not appear to make any difference in terms of "staying within the sphere of suffering". "Direction" is circular. Of course not many will share my view and it doesn't seem to be Theravada view. Therefore please accept my apologies for this post.


You've essentially denied the validity of the 3rd and 4th noble truths. Apology accepted, I guess.

-M
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:00 am

Greetings Christopher:::

What meindzai says is well said.

What's also worth considering is where the chain of dependent origination starts, namely... avijja, ignorance.

If you take it from a personified perspective, and take it as a person who is ignorant in this lifetime (as some do) then there will be suffering for that person.

If you take it from the perspective of momentary occurrences of avijja (without personification or the introduction of 'lives'), then there will be potential suffering deriving from those moments of avijja.

However, in terms of momentary occurrences, is there always ignorance? What about those moments when we 'see things as they really are' and we do not falsely super-impose sankharas, craving and a sense of "I" over the top? Is avijja applicable to those moments? Is dukkha applicable then? I would suggest not.

So whilst happiness may be a Dhamma Guide, I think non-dukkha may be a better one.

Certainly do not believe any alpha-males who might suggest that you should suffer more on account of the Dharma practice :rolleye:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby christopher::: » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:18 am

Thanks all for your input, and i agree. In some sense the confusion may be in regard to our understanding of what "happiness" means, in the Buddha's dhamma. Kind of like getting to the root of metta and karuna, and then understanding how these represent a very different expression and experience of love then what Romeo & Juliet fell into....

I've been finding that a deeper contemplation and cultivation of the brahmaviharas and 7 factors of awakening have been helpful in this regard. Something alpha-male dhamma brothers sometimes fail to emphasize...

:smile:
"As Buddhists, we should aim to develop relationships that are not predominated by grasping and clinging. Our relationships should be characterised by the brahmaviharas of metta (loving kindness), mudita (sympathetic joy), karuna (compassion), and upekkha (equanimity)."
~post by Ben, Jul 02, 2009
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Guy » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:09 am

Hi Retro and Christopher,

Can one of you please give me a definition of what an "alpha male" in regards to the Dhamma is?

With Metta,

Guy
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby retrofuturist » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:14 am

Greetings Guy,

Just a little in-joke, that... we both knew someone who used to like to dictate rule of law.

:spy:

Metta,
Retro. :)
If you have asked me of the origination of unease, then I shall explain it to you in accordance with my understanding:
Whatever various forms of unease there are in the world, They originate founded in encumbering accumulation. (Pārāyanavagga)


Exalted in mind, just open and clearly aware, the recluse trained in the ways of the sages:
One who is such, calmed and ever mindful, He has no sorrows! -- Udana IV, 7


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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Guy » Sat Mar 13, 2010 3:18 am

Okay, fair enough. :)
Four types of letting go:

1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

- Ajahn Brahm
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby ground » Sat Mar 13, 2010 6:09 am

meindzai wrote:
TMingyur wrote:
christopher::: wrote:
On the road to enlightenment, isn't every step still included in the realms of suffering? The challenge of course is to make sure we're traveling in the right direction.

:smile:



Actually the 12 links of DO express that there is neither way nor road out of suffering.



Oh really?

Yes, if you take it as a model of cause and effect.

meindzai wrote:
...And the way of practice leading to the cessation ...
Sammaditthi Sutta: Right View

But this is not taking it as a model of cause and effect but this is belief/conviction that is independent of the model.

meindzai wrote:
So to head for happiness or non-suffering does not appear to make any difference in terms of "staying within the sphere of suffering". "Direction" is circular. Of course not many will share my view and it doesn't seem to be Theravada view. Therefore please accept my apologies for this post.


You've essentially denied the validity of the 3rd and 4th noble truths. Apology accepted, I guess.

Invalid conclusion. I have denied the validity of the model of the 12 links of DO if taken as a model of cause and effect. But I have not done this explicitely above therefore your invalid conclusion is understandable and you cannot be reproached with it.

Kind regards
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Brizzy » Fri Mar 19, 2010 3:52 am

m0rl0ck wrote:
christopher::: wrote:Can one rely on happiness as a kind of inner compass or guide for dhamma practice?


Yes. Unless its conditioned happiness.


Hi

Of course its conditioned happiness. :D The whole of the path is conditioned, until one completes it. (Transcendental dependent origination).
If you are happy because you see less & less craving/hatred/ignorance in your mind, then I would say that this is the right type of happiness to pursue & develop.(It wont just happen on its own).

:smile:
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Re: Happiness as Dhamma Guide?

Postby Nibbida » Fri Mar 19, 2010 4:41 am

It depends what you mean by "happiness." Happiness based on internal conditions (i.e. lokuttara sukha), rather than external ones (i.e. lokiya sukha), seems like a safe bet. This also seems in line with developing & preserving wholesome states, and stopping and preventing unwholesome states. The ancient Greeks called it eudaimonia. I've been impressed in my reading on jhana practice, how essential it is to cultivate a states of happiness in order to progress to jhana.

I like the Thomas Byrom translation. Many of the others may be grammatically accurate but many are stiff and sound like unnatural speech in English. I like Easwaran's too (http://tiny.cc/n2upx).

:anjali:
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