Happiness is thought to come from enjoying sensual pleasure through our six senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and mind. For example, we want to see beautiful things, we want to hear good music, we want to taste delicious food, and so on. These times we seek more and more enjoyment, even excessive enjoyment, excessive use of our six senses, yet it does not bring happiness. Instead of bringing happiness, we suffer because of it.
What are the keys to happiness?
1. Dana. Sharing what we have, it may be material goods, time, or knowledge. We are happy from sharing when we see other people become happy. We are also happy when we give because we learn to not being attached to our property or possession. Strong attachment to property causes fear, confusion, thus hinders our happiness.
This kind of happiness is still categorized as gross happiness. There is more subtle form of happiness, such as:
2. Refrain from harming other people
When we harm others, we create unwholesome karma which creates unwholesome result.
We refrain from harming others by practicing our self-restrain by taking the precepts. We take precepts based on these two considerations:
a. out of compassion for others
b. understanding the law of karma - our own karma is the real protection and you become fearless. This feeling of fearlessness when going everywhere is also a type of happiness.
3. Metta - loving kindness, unconditional love. Loving others without any expectation.
We can practice metta meditation to develop this loving kindness. Remember to do metta meditation starting from yourself, then to your respected people, neutral people then lastly to your enemy. Do not start with your biggest enemy because it will create hatred instead of loving kindness. Start with the easiest, and only when you are getting better, then tackle the harder ones.
Every mental state creates 'rupa' in the body. Unwholesome thought creates unwholesome matter in the body and may create problems such as illness. On the other hand, wholesome thought also creates wholesome matter in the body and results in health and stamina. Wholesome thought can even radiate outside the body as evidenced by experiments done by Dr Masaru Emoto. (read books by Masaru Emoto such as Hidden Message of Water, etc)
Sayalay Susila also shared her story about sending metta to previously rude person and how she became polite and kind, then how she sent metta to ants that bit her and how except for two, three ants, all the other ants stopped biting her. She also shared the power of meditation to reduce pain because when the mind is concentrated on a single object, remember that only one thought can exist at any one time. If you are so focused on metta, then thought of pain disappears.
4. Non-attachment to our body
When we realize that our body simply consists of four elements, we can overcome attachment to our body.
When we practice four element meditation from our head to toe, we can experience these four elements (earth, water, fire and wind) and when we are in deep meditation, we can see the kalapa, like bubble forming and breaking up, arising and passing away. At that moment we realized anicca and what is constantly changing can't bring lasting happiness.
When we practice four element meditation and we can let go of our attachment to our body, we can be happy because we won't be affected by the changes of our physical body such as getting sick, old and frail.
5. Non-attachment to our mind
For example, there are three types of feelings aggregate - pleasant, unpleasant and neutral.
Our happiness often follows our feelings. When it feels pleasant, we crave for it. When it feels unpleasant, we avoid or reject it. When it feels neutral, we are often ignorant of it.
What we feel is beyond our control, feelings are beyond our control and therefore being attached to our feelings creates unhappiness.
Real happiness is not being attached to any feelings, including pleasant feelings.
Happiness is not a life goal but a process in life.
How can we be happy?
1. Do not bring the past with you
A lot of people are trapped in living in the past. Playing the regret games, "Why didn't I....? I should have...."
The past has gone and should not be brought back to the present.
What has happened in the past cannot hinder you from being happy, unless you let it be.
2. Do not worry about the future
What you face right now is not the problem. The problem is what you think is going to happen in the future.
How to handle worry?
a. Remember that what we worry about often does not happen. There are only a small percentage of what we worry that actually happens in life.
b. Even if what we were worried about happened, remember that it is anicca. No matter what the situation is, it will change.
c. Remember that you have been worried in the past and you were able to overcome them in the past. Have the confidence that you are going to be able to overcome it again in the future.
3. Live in the now
Do not complain and whine! When you complain and whine, you are rejecting the working of the law of kamma.
Whatever you experience in this life, you deserve it!
If you want to be happy, do not use the philosophy of "because"; use the philosophy of "although"
Instead of "I love you because you are pretty" (implying that I won't love you if you are not beautiful anymore), use "Although you have love handles, I still love you" (implying that if later on become slim, well it's a bonus)
Learn and Grow
Inge Santoso, B. Com