Our experience of the world is only distorted and messed up because it is reflected in the messed up mirror of our minds. Our delusions see things that aren’t really there. You know the House of Mirrors at fairgrounds, where we are all bendy, then nine feet wide, then suddenly fourteen feet tall? We know not to get taken in because we know the nature of mirrors. But we get taken in by our delusions, even though it’s the same thing – they are reflecting something that is not there and then believing that it IS there.
We already have within us our own source of peace and happiness, as Buddhist master Geshe Kelsang says in Transform Your Life. It is our birthright, our Buddha nature, who we actually are. Sometimes we know this, when the dark clouds of discontent disperse and the sun naturally shines through. So if we have the constant potential for happiness, and we work very hard at it in various ways, why, we may well ask ourselves, is it so hard to stay happy 24/7?!
The answer is “delusions.” We hear this word all the time in Buddhism. I know I’ve mentioned delusions umpteen times on Kadampa Life, and we’ve looked a bit at some of the main ones (ignorance, anger, attachment, jealousy, self-cherishing). Since identifying and removing our delusions is, one could say, the bread and butter of a happy life, I’ve been meaning to write something about delusions in general for a while.
“That happiness is a state of mind, and therefore depends on what we are doing with our mind, is obvious when we stop to think of it, but often we are so busy chasing dreams (or trying to avoid nightmares) related to fame and fortune that we don’t stop to think of it. We get caught up in material markers, not spiritual ones, and our life is poorer and more anxious as a result.”
True or false?
In recent years our knowledge of modern technology has increased considerably, and as a result we have witnessed remarkable material progress, but there has not been a corresponding increase in human happiness. ~ Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
New article out about this, and what they’re discussing this week at the U. N. Summit in New York, here: http://kadampalife.org/2012/04/03/the-secrets-of-national-happiness/
Unstoppable ~ 8 ways in which our thoughts are like a runaway train (and what to do about it!)
Check out this article for more background.
When we hear the Mahayana Buddhist teachings, we come to understand that the best way to find daily and lasting happiness for ourselves is to love others even more than we love ourselves. No contradiction. We still love ourselves, we just love others even more. You could say that loving others is an advanced form of loving ourselves! It is a win win, as far as I can see.
Unhappy people cannot help others anyway. (If we try to, we often end up just spreading our own upset and anxiety.) So for others’ sake we have to wish to be authentically happy and allow ourselves to be happy at every possible opportunity.
Buddhist meditation or Dharma is designed to make us happier and more free. We talk about “practicing Dharma”, or “training in meditation”, which means that we are practicing or training in becoming happier and more free. “Practicing” or “training in” implies we already have the potential for happiness and freedom, otherwise we would have to say something like “adding happiness” instead.
There is no point in going to the gym unless we have a muscle. We go the gym precisely to train our muscles, so we need to have at least some muscle, however weak, in order to train it. Well, Dharma is happiness-training. In other words, we need to have some happiness for us to train. We can also say Dharma is love-training or compassion-training or wisdom-training, and similarly we need to have some love or compassion or wisdom in order to train.
This is why it so important to identify and abide with our natural good qualities of happiness, wisdom, compassion etc., however feeble they may be at the moment. Then we naturally approach our training with such faith and optimism — regarding realizations as natural, even inevitable.
This will give you actual meditation experience.