Thich Minh Thien's Column
The Second Mindfulness Training - True Happiness
This month, we move forward in the Mindfulness Trainings that I found in an article from Venerable Thich Nhat Hahn. These Five Mindfulness Trainings are his re-formulation of some of the Buddha's core teachings. This month's column is on what Thich Nhat Hahn describes as the second training; namely, "True Happiness". Thich Nhat Hahn describes it this way: "Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking and acting".
This training encourages us to see a connection between our own happiness and suffering, and the happiness and suffering of others. It emphasizes a focus on generosity and understanding, with less of a focus on external conditions that are superficial in nature, such as fame, wealth and material possessions. Indeed, this is not only a recipe for mindful living but also presents a striking vision for global ethics. "We already have more than enough conditions to be happy..." said Thich Nhat Hahn in 2009. He was referring to those internal conditions that we can turn to within ourselves in any present moment. His teachings tell us that happiness depends on one's mental attitude and not on external conditions. Echoing the Buddha, who spoke of practicing "the Way", all the Mindfulness Trainings, this one in particular, emphasizes the balance between excess and deficiency within one's life: in working, learning, playing loving and serving. This balance then leads to the goal of personal happiness and ultimately, "True Happiness".
It struck me that in his earliest teachings, the Buddha outlined the path for "True Happiness" in the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. Knowing the Path and living the Path however are distinctly different. Conducting our lives in Right View, Right Intention, Right Speech, Right Attitude, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration is the prescription the Buddha gave us for the alleviation of suffering. It stands to reason therefore, that our practice of living mindfully and employing the insight and clarity we experience through meditation, could lead to a level of "True Happiness". As sentient beings, however, our general approach to determining our own happiness, is often polluted by our personal wants and desires and lack of genuine consideration for the happiness of all beings and our planet. Until we can clearly see our own "True Happiness" as being inherently intertwined with the "True Happiness" of all, individual and societal suffering will continue. May our practices of Metta and Compassion move us in the right direction for a shared "True Happiness". In hope that we may experience "True Happiness" let us offer to each other and the world...
May All Be Well....May All Be Happy....May All Know Love....May All Know Peace.
Namo tassa bhagavato arahato samma sambuddhassa