Does our happiness depend on that of others: – (Joy shared is joy doubled; sorrow shared is sorrow halved)
When the selfish happiness is the only goal in life, life soon becomes goalless. We can never be truly happy if we dissociate ourselves from the happiness of others. This in no way requires us to neglect our own happiness. To love oneself is to love life. It is essential to understand that we make ourselves happy in making others happy. The goal of life is a deep state of well-being and wisdom at all moments, accompanied by love for every being. It is love that is always available, without showiness or self-interest.
Looking within, looking without: –
We willingly spend dozen years in school, then go on to college or professional training for several more; we work out at the gym to stay healthy; we spend a lot of time enhancing our comfort, our wealth and our social status. We put a great deal in to all this and yet we do so little to improve the inner condition that determines the very quality of our lives. What strange hesitancy, fear or apathy stops us from looking within ourselves, from trying to grab the true essence of joy and sadness, desire and hatred? Fear of the unknown prevails and the courage to explore that inner world fails at the frontier of our mind. In pinning all our hopes on the external world, however, we can only end up being disappointed.
Can we cultivate happiness: –
If we try resolutely over the course of years to master our thoughts as they come to us, to apply appropriate antidotes to negative emotions and to nourish positive ones, our efforts will undoubtedly yield results that would have seemed unattainable at first. When it comes to physical performance we soon run in to limitations, but the mind is far more flexible. Why for instance there should be any limit to love or compassion. Why accept that but neglect our own transformation, which determines the quality of our lived experience? Is it better to just allow us to drift? Isn’t that how we crash on the rock?
Ego is a powerful attachment to the self and thus to the notion of “Mine” –my body, my name, my mind, my possession, my friends and so on – which leads either to desire to possess or to the feeling of repulsion for the “Other”. This erroneous sense of a real and independent self is of course based on egocentricity, which persuades us that our own fate is of greater value than that of others.
The western world holds the self to be the fundamental building block of the personality. Surely, if I eliminate my ego I will cease to exist as a person. But the genuine self-confidence is the natural quality of egolessness. Genuine confidence comes from an awareness of a basic quality of our mind and of our potential for transformation and flourishing, what Buddhism calls Buddha Nature, which is present in all of us.
The idea that a powerful ego is necessary to succeed in life undoubtedly stems from the confusion between attachment to our own image and the resolve to achieve our deepest aspirations. The fact is, the less influenced we are by the sense of our self’s importance, the easier it is to acquire lasting inner strength. The reason for this is simple: self importance is a target open to all sorts of mental projectiles – Jealousy, fear, greed, repulsion – that perpetually destabilize it.
We are obsessed with our success, our failure, our hopes and our anxieties and thereby give happiness every opportunity to elude us. When the self ceases to be the most important thing in the world, we find it easier to focus our concern on others. The sight of their suffering bolsters our courage and resolve to work on their behalf, instead of crippling us with our own emotional distress.
It is by transforming our minds that we can transform our world.
We should not underestimate the consequences of our thoughts, words and actions.