To be happy and free all of our days, to be filled with so much joy our hearts feel fit to burst; isn’t that what every human being seeks?
When we work towards success or plan relaxing weekends or when we actively seek to make new friends, is happiness not at the centre of it all?
The Dalai Lama, whose wise counsel and spiritual advice one cannot ignore says;
“The purpose of our lives is to be happy. Whether we are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, whatever our nationality, colour, social status, or ideology may be, the purpose of our lives is to be happy. From the moment of birth, every human being wants happiness and does not want suffering. Therefore, it is important to discover what will bring about the greatest degree of happiness.”
So how do we get that pure, undiluted joy to settle into our hearts? From what I have gathered, we need to practice compassion; because if we seek happiness for our own sakes, we risk becoming hedonistic and selfish; something. Because our quest for happiness becomes tainted with evil intentions and ulterior motives, sometimes the end result or getting to the destination we seek is not as fulfilling as it ought to be.
I remember, for example, that a school mate of mine once confided to a mutual friend that she derived happiness out of watching others suffer or go through a difficult phase. I can only imagine that her happiness was shallow and unsatisfying because it was based on the wrong foundation.
The Dalai Lama has a theory which I found quite interesting;
“It is possible to divide every kind of happiness and suffering into two main categories: mental and physical. Ã‚Â Of the two, it is the mind that exerts the greatest influence on most of us. Ã‚Â Unless we are either gravely ill or deprived of basic necessities, our physical condition plays a secondary role in life. Ã‚Â If the body is content, we virtually ignore it. The mind, however, registers every event, no matter how small. Hence we should devote our most serious efforts to bringing about mental peace. From my own limited experience I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.
The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.
As long as we live in this world we are bound to encounter problems. If, at such times, we lose hope and become discouraged, we diminish our ability to face difficulties. If, on the other hand, we remember that it is not just ourselves but everyone who has to undergo suffering, this more realistic perspective will increase our determination and capacity to overcome troubles. Indeed, with this attitude, each new obstacle can be seen as yet another valuable opportunity to improve our mind!
Thus we can strive gradually to become more compassionate, that is we can develop both genuine sympathy for others’ suffering and the will to help remove their pain. As a result, our own serenity and inner strength will increase.