This is my notes on finding true happiness, which is the topic of discussion in SGI group discussion on 20 Aug 2009 in Cate’s place that I attended.
As usual, we started with chanting daimoku for 30 minutes, and then moved into Cate’s living room, sit around in circle, get cozy, nibble some chocolates and chips while sipping tea (A ritual I thoroughly enjoyed)
The discussion begins with talk of problems that affects our happiness in live, and with one case raised we all started to identify ourselves and a pattern seems to emerge: that true, lasting happiness is not determined by career, wealth, fame, and so on. Although it is agreed that these things contributes to make us happy they are not the primary determining factor.
How can we attain true happiness, especially when we are not happy with our current life conditions?
How can we be happy if our loved ones are suffering (whether that be your children, lovers, parents, or close friends). This discussion leads to the question : so what makes us truly happy? What are the key factors to finding true, lasting happiness?
The 6 Foundation of Happiness
I don’t know from which book this is, but I believe the message it is trying to convey is true. Tony took photocopy of 6 pages off this book and gave the copies to us for reading material.
The six foundations are:
- A sense of fulfillment
- Posessing a profound philosophy
- Holding fast to one’s conviction
- A Positive view of life
- Living with Courage
- (and) Tolerance/Compassion
Food for thought indeed. I will list the conditions here each under a sub section, with relevant paragraph (if not the whole section itself) quoted from the text.
A sense of fulfillment
Where on earth is happiness found? How can we become happy? These are fundamental questions of life, and human beings are no doubt destined to pursue them eternally. The teaching of Buddhism, faith in the mystic Law, provide fundamental answers to these questions.
Ultimately, happiness rests on how we establish a solid sense of self or being. Happiness based on such externals as possessing a fine house or a good reputation is “relative happiness”. It is not a firm, unchanging “absolute happiness”. One can be in apparently the most fortunate circumstances, but if that persons feels only emptiness and pain, then he or she cannot be considered happy.
Some people live in truly splendid houses yet do nothing but fight in them. Some people work for famous companies and enjoy a prestige that many envy yet are always being shouted at by their superiors, left exhausted from the heavy workloads and rendered sick and weary of life.
Happiness does not lie in outward appearances nor in vanity, it is a matter of what you feel inside; it is a deep resonance in our lives. I would venture that the first condition for happiness is fulfilment.
To be filled each day with a rewarding sense of exhilaration and purpose, a sense of tasks accomplished and deep fulfilment – people who feel this way are happy. Those who have this sense of satisfaction even if they are extremely busy are much happier than those who have free time on their hands but feel empty inside.
Note: This passage is the whole untouched section, it is so good I feel that I must note the whole thing as is.
Possessing a profound philosophy
Posessing a profound philosophy and living it, to me, is to walk the path of Buddhism. In doing so contentment, balance and peace is found, while at the same time contributing great value to the people around you.
Gongyo (chanting) is a solemn ceremony in which we are at a dialogue with the universe. Doing Gongyo (chanting) in the morning represent the dawn, the start of a new day, in our lives. It is the sun rising, it gives us a profound sense of contentment in the depths of our being that nothing can surpass. Even on this point alone we are truly fortunate.
In addition, each of you (in SGI) is striving to do your best in your job or other responsibilities and to win in all areas of life while using your spare time to study the Law, work for people’s happiness and for the welfare of the society.
In this Latter Day of the Law teeming with perverse individuals, you are exerting yourselves energtically, often amid many hardships and obstacles, chanting for other’s happiness, travelling long distances to talk with friends and show them warm concern and understanding.
You are truly Bodhisattvas. There is no nobler life, no life based on a loftier philosophy. Each of you is translating this unsurpassed philosophy into action. To possess a philosophy of such profound value is itself the greatest fortune.
Accordingly, the second condition for happiness is possessing such a profound philosophy.
Holding fast to one’s convictions
We live in an age in which people can no longer clearly distinguish what is right or wrong, good or evil. This is a global trend. If things continue in this way, humanity is destined for chaos and moral decay. In the midst of such times, you uphold a teaching and way of life of profound philosophy: the teaching of Nichiren Daishonin’s buddhism.
In the “Opening of th Eyes” the Daishonin writes: “This I will state. Let the gods forsake me. Let all persecutions assail me. Still I will give my life for the sake of the Law” (WND-I,280). In this same gosho, he instructs his believers not to be swayed by temptations or threats (distractions) however great – such as being offered the rulership of Japan or being told that one’s parents will be beheaded.
The important thing is to hold on resolutely to one’s convictions, come what may, just as the Daishonin teaches. People who possess such unwavering conviction are definitely on the path of attaining true happiness.
A note to avoid misinterpretation, ‘giving your life for the sake of the law’ does not mean to forsake everything you have and uphold the Law only. To do that, in fact, would be to forsake the Law itself.
What this passage means is to possess strong conviction on the Law and to embody that spirit in our character. It is through this that our eyes can be opened and see the values and teaching in this ‘lofty philosophy’ (IMO that’s why the Gosho is titled, ‘The opening of the eyes’) – through it we will be able to attain other foundations of happiness: a positive spirit, courage and tolerance.
A positivie view of life
Those who are always complaining and grumbling make not only themselves but everyone else around them miserable and unhappy.
By contrast, those who always live positively and filled with enthusiasm, who possess a cheerful and sunny disposition that lifts the spirits and brightens the hearts of all they meet are not only happy themselves bu6 are a source of hope and inspiration for others.
Such individuals can view even a scolding by a loved one (such as spouse or partner) as sweet music to their ears – to be able to view events such as this on a positive light cultivates wisdom and cheerfulness that accompanies such attitude, leading to happiness.
To regard everything in a positive light or with a spirit of goodwill, however, does not mean being foolishly gullible and allowing people to take advantage of your good nature. It means having wisdom and perception to actually move things in a positive direction by seeing things in their best light, while all the time keeping our eyes firmly focused on reality.
Faith and the teachings of Buddhism enable us to develop that kind of character. The acquisition of such character is a priceless treasure surpassing any other (material) possesion.
Courage and Tolerance
Courageous people can overcome anything. The cowardly, on the other hand, because of their lack of courage, fail to savour the true, profound joys of life. This is truly unfortunate.
Those who are tolerant and broad-minded can make people feel comfortable and at ease. Narrow and intolerant people who berate others for the slightest thing, or who make a great commotion each time some problem arises, just exhaust everyone and inspire fear.
Leaders must not intimidate or exhaust others. They must be tolerant and have a warm approachability that makes people feel relaxed and comfortable. Not only are those who possess a heart as wide as the ocean happy themselves, but all those around them are happy too.
Courage and Tolerance is the fifth and sixth condition of attaining true happiness.
Note that “leaders” here does not means only people who are in management / leadership position, but I believe it also refers to people who are leading a life of leadership / possessing a leading character.
These individuals usually attains leadership role within their circle (work, life) but might not be so. However, these people are the ones who are there making a difference, day by day. Courage is the primary ingredient of a leading character – but to be able to lead well, tolerance is very important. In attaining both we can forge ourselves a very fine leading character.
If life is a journey of a ship in the sea, a leading character must be like having a steering wheel on a very strong ship that you can use to control the direction of your vessel. Jack Sparrow (of the Pirates Of the Carribean movie) remarked that the Black Pearl represents freedom. I say that ultimately, a leading character manifests a very fortunate side effect in our life – freedom to live and control our destiny. In it, surely, happiness will be found!
This is a very huge topic, and one that took us 2 meetings to complete.
But the teaching being discussed here is very profound, and in a way it is a model that you can use to measure yourself – how far am I from attaining a life of true, absolute happiness?