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Hello! My name is Paula and I love to write. I have an affinity for words and I want to tell tales about life and share experiences. I now have my very own canvas. I’m so excited! I have wanted to be an author since I was a child. I graduated from the Morris Journalism Academy in 2007. It’s funny how sometimes your passions are put on the back burner, while life goes on. You have probably heard the line “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans”, (is it from a song? Not sure). I am blessed with the gifts of time and space now, and here I am doing what I love.Check out some of my articles.. Happy reading!
The Dalai Lama on Happiness
“Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions." - Dalai Lama...
Happiness. We all strive for it. What will make us happy? I know speaking for myself I can come up with quite a few things with money being at the top of the list. Sometimes what causes us to be depressed is trying to achieve a goal when the odds seem to be stacked against us.
Dr Howard C. Cutler is the co-author of ‘The Art of Happiness-A Handbook For Living.’ This book is by Dr Cutler and His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I bought the book on a particularly dreary day. Although I am a firm believer that each of us creates our world from the inside out, at this particular time there were some external things that no amount of meditation or positive self talk could remedy. I had lack, illness and hatred in my life and I felt powerless to amend my circumstances. I was in low spirits as I picked up the book and began to browse through it.
Opening it at random I came across a page in the chapter titled ‘Facing Suffering’. As the book consists of Eastern and Western philosophies on the art of happiness (Dr Cutler met with His Holiness during several private meetings) I was struck by the Dalai Lama’s practical response to the issue of dealing with affliction in life, “There’s really no avoiding the fact that suffering is part of life. And of course we have a natural tendency to dislike our sufferings and problems. But I think that ordinary people don’t view the very nature of our existence to be characterized by suffering…, he said and continued with a laugh, “I mean on your birthday people usually say ‘Happy Birthday!’ when actually the day of your birth was the birth of your suffering. But nobody says ‘Happy Birth-Of-Suffering day!”
"There you have it," I thought, "not even the Dalai Lama can avoid the torment and pain that comes with living. Pretty depressing realization if you ask me!" Of course when I eventually began to read the book I did learn all about the choices that we all have in regards to how we feel and our ability to change how we perceive things.
The Dalai Lama does not disagree that having enough money, friends etc .can be a source of pleasure although he believes that one can have very little money or be in poor health and still be happy. He often quotes the ‘mind factor’ and that we may not always experience intense bliss but we can still become a lot more content than we are right now. He deems having a calm state of mind a more valuable asset and contributor to long lasting happiness than feelings of ecstasy. So it is a matter of training the mind. There has been a lot written and talked about in regards to mind training and cognitive therapy and the like and I have often wondered how someone so spiritually evolved lives each and every day with all the ups and downs that come with life.
The first item in the book is titled ‘The Right To Happiness.’ Each one of us has a right to live joyfully and the Dalai Lama claims that anyone can coach his or her mind to achieve contentment. When asked what is the purpose of existence he replied, “Happiness.”
In the West we have perceived happiness as intangible and indefinable. Dr Cutler says that the word ‘happy’ is derived from the Icelandic word ‘happ’ which means luck or chance so to the majority of Westerners happiness is not something you can educate your psyche to achieve. Nevertheless the psyche is exactly what the Dalai Lama refers to, “When I say ‘training the mind’, in this context I’m not referring to ‘mind’ merely as one’s cognitive ability or intellect. Rather I’m using the term in the sense of the Tibetan word ‘Sem’, which has a broader meaning, closer to ‘psyche’ or ‘spirit’; it includes intellect and feeling , heart and mind. By bringing about a certain inner discipline, we can undergo a transformation of our attitude, our entire outlook and approach to living.”
This is one of my favourite quotes by His Holiness:
“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."
The Dalai Lama says that one of the ways towards gratification is reaching out to others therefore practicing ‘Karuna’ “Karuna is when you do something good without expectations, even without knowing the other person.”
His Holiness says that when you feel angry, your mind is divided in two parts, one is the angry part and the other is the observer attempting to scrutinize. This means that anger cannot dominate the entire mind. Objective viewing may help to recognize a way of dealing with the rage. When you feel resentment toward another ask, “Who is this person? Is he a body, or is he a mind?” Because there is no answer, the anger will dissipate.
Human nature is such that the more we have the more we desire. A way to true riches is teaching ourselves to want less and by practicing gratitude and expressing thanks for what we do have instead of we may feel is lacking.
An important aspect of fulfillment is self knowledge. Knowing what it is that makes your heart sing and devise a plan to incorporate more of that in your life. Strength is required as you may risk feeling ‘different’ from other people. Remember you have the right to do whatever you like (within reason) as long as it doesn’t harm anyone else.
I think it is an advantage to mix with like minded and positive people. Sadness is contagious and so is happiness.
We must be gentle on ourselves, take care of our bodies and become our own best friend. Too often we can be extremely hard on ourselves. A little selfishness and saying ‘no’ more often doesn’t go astray and a good laugh every now and again is soul food.
What about Nirvana? Didn’t the Buddha sit under that famous tree until he attained it? The Dalai Lama claims that it is indeed possible to eliminate all negative emotions but let us focus on contentment for now.
Toward the end of the book His Holiness discussed meditating on nonconceptuality, “This is not a mere state of dullness, or a blanked-out state of mind. Rather what you should do is, first of all, generate the determination that ‘I will maintain a state without conceptual thoughts," he said. In other words meditation training will eventually be beneficial in ‘stilling the mind.’ He states that at first there will be what feels like a sense of ‘absence’ as we withdraw our focus from the external, but with constant meditative practice we will eventually acquire lucidity and radiance as we learn to recognize the value of the natural state of the mind without fleeting thoughts and as we become adept at this we can remain in this state longer and longer.
It is a journey worth taking. If we let go of outwardly concept and centre on the natural state of mind we can attain nirvana right here and now.