Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Happiness In This World


This morning as I drove Kat to MIL house, she was pretty talkative this morning and at the same time, I wanted some quiet time to myself to think. I entertained her queries - nodding and saying a few words in response. In that moment, though, an important thought struck me. I love Kat a lot but the feeling of love doesn't overwhelm me everyday, definitely not during that drive as I wanted to think. At certain moments, I feel a surge of love for her. At other moments I have no particular feelings - just neutral and doing my duty as a father. Love is not a continuous flow of feelings. It is not like electricity or water flowing on a river. When you turn an electric lamp on, it shines forever until you switch it off. The electric current continues to flow through the lamp and doesn't stop until you flip the switch. Love doesn't work that way. Similarly, happiness doesn't work that way.

So, why is it that many religions promise eternal happiness? Is this even achievable? If love, the fundamental and primal feelings, is not something that flows continuously like a electric current, what is a state of eternal happiness then? If you are happy every second of the way, is that even logical and achievable? You will be like a mad man from a psychological ward. Is that the reason you need go to a new place, like heaven, to have this eternal happiness feeling? Or you need to reborn in your next life to get this happiness? Reborn where? Planet Happiness somewhere in the Milky Way or beyond?

In Buddhism, happiness is not an end state. Achieving enlightenment, therefore achieving happiness is not the end goal where when you reached, you stopped moving. In Buddhism, happiness is a journey - and in this journey, it is full of problems and challenges. When you are able to overcome all these problems and challenges - that they doesn't pull you down, discourage you and you move on with life despite of the problems, at that moment, you are happy until the next problem came to you, in which you fought through and overcome and be happy while you overcome them. A cancer patient who doesn't let cancer destroy his life, is said to be happy. A financially challenged person who doesn't let that affect his relationship with his friends and family, who continue to work hard to overcome the financial trouble and in turn able to encourage others to do the same, is happy. A person who was dumped by his girlfriend but is able to move on with life without giving up on hope and love, is happy. That's why in our Buddhism, we can achieve happiness in this world, in this lifetime. We don't have to wait to be reborn in a holy land, or in heaven, to enjoy happiness. It exists NOW, today. You need to have the life state and the state-of-mind to overcome your challenges to enjoy the happiness.

In Nichiren Daishonin writing: "Though worldly troubles may arise, never let them disturb you. No one can avoid problems, not even sages or worthies.

Drink sake only at home with your wife, and chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Suffer what there is to suffer, enjoy what there is to enjoy. Regard both suffering and joy as facts of life, and continue chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. no matter what happens."

He said that no one can avoid problems - even the wisest of men. And that life is full of ups and downs and regardless of it, we need to chant to uphold the positive life state. When your life is full of ups, you chant with gratefulness and enjoy the up time. When you are down, you chant to lift your life state and continue to over come these challenges. That is the secret formula to achieve happiness in this lifetime!

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