Everyone on this earth does want a happy life and no one wants a misfortunate
life. That's why on the new year day, they wish each other a new year with happiness.
It is something that we dream for, while other people wish us. So, are you living
in a true happiness? No. Why don't you live in happiness? In this life, is there someone
who can proudly say that he/she is living in true happiness? If there is, then he/she
just has a bit of it. So, what is the true happiness that everyone is thinking of
and wishing each other?
When you are lost, your stomach is grouching, you are treated with a full meal. This
is the happiness. At the time you are cold, you are given a jacket and blanket. You
feel warm. This is the happiness. To the people, the happiness is when their empty
stomach is filled or when they are warm in a cold environment. In other words, happiness
comes from the eyes seeing the beauty, the ears hearing good sounds, the nose smelling
good scents, the tongue tasting good flavors, and the body feeling good objects. Is
it true that the gratification of the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body is the happiness?
If so, then the gratification of the five organs when they are in contact with the
five objects is the happiness. Let's talk about the ears. Every day, they hear good
and bad sounds. Sometimes they hear compliments, other times, they hear criticisms.
But most of the time, criticisms are more than compliments. Therefore, the pleasing
sounds are less than the harsh sounds. Is it easy or difficult to have other people
praise us? Even the Buddha, who is fully enlightened, is still not getting compliments
from everyone. Is there a person in this world who is always being praised? Once the
praise exists, criticism exists. When we are praised, we are happy. When we are criticized,
we are upset. It's the same when the nose smells bad scents more often than good scents,
the tongue tastes more bad flavors than good flavors, the eyes see more ill scenes
than good scenes, and the body contacts with more uncomfortable objects than pleasant
objects. From a thorough assessment, we have to say that humans have more tragedy
than happiness. Therefore, they keep moaning that they are suffering. No one can claim
that he/she is living in a complete happiness. Why? It's because what claims to be
the happiness comes from the feelings, that is arisen by the contact between the organs
and objects. These feelings are impermanent as the sounds that we hear can last for
a short time, the good flavors that we just taste can last for a moment before we
swallow them. Everything that humans are experiencing is impermanent, therefore, it
is temporal. We just attain the happiness, but it quickly disappears. Because we can
retain it longer, we feel miserable. Whatever people claim to be the happiness is
worthed for a moment, not forever. The following is the example that the Buddha had
used to show the people how temporal the happiness is.
A long time ago, there were a King and his Queen just gave to birth to a princess.
Because she was coddled by everyone therefore, she became spoiled. One day, seeing
the beautiful bubbles shining in the pond, she had a desire to have a rosary made
by these bubbles. Having that thought, she went to bed and covered herself with a
blanket all day. The Queen worried to ask her if she was ill. She did not reply. Later,
the King arrived to check her condition, but she was still quiet. Until that afternoon,
she softly said, "If I have a rosary of water bubbles, I will recover. Otherwise,
I will die."
The King was panic. If she dies, he would be miserable. Therefore, he immediately
ordered his men to find a person who could make the rosary of water bubbles and promised
for a great reward. Do you have a courage to to it? Probably not. But there was an
old man who showed up to take that task. The King took him to his daughter and introduced
him with the princess.
- "This is the man who could make the beautiful rosaries. I asked him to do one that
you like. So, can you sit up?"
The princess was so excited that she sat up. At the moment, the old man said:
- "My specialty is to make rosary from water bubbles. Now, you should start eating
again. I will return tomorrow morning to make one for you."
The princess was so happy that she went back to her normal eating routine. Next morning,
the King, the princess, the Queen, and the old man went outside to look at the bubbles
in the pond. The old man mourned:
- "I'm experienced in making rosaries, however, because I'm old, I can't see well.
Can the princess choose the most beautiful bubbles that you like the most for me?"
The princess was excited to pick up the bubbles from the pond with her hands. But
as soon as she touched it, it popped up. From the morning til afternoon, she could
not pick one up. Tired and discouraged, she turned to the King and said: "Father,
I don't want the rosary any more." The King noded, "Aha. I will give you a diamond
The bubbles represent the happiness in the world. Far away, it looks beautiful, but
at the moment we hold it, it vanishes because it's impermanent. Therefore, whoevers
search for the happiness from Five Fold Sensual Pleasures will never be satisfied
in life. The princess represent us, the people who spend our entire life to chase
after the happiness. At the end, it's just an empty hand. No one can proudly say that
he/she attains a complete happiness because it's impermanent. When we touch it, it
runs away from our hands. No one can retain it for long. The King represents the Buddha.
When people realize that the happiness in the world is temporal, he will show them
the true happiness, which in this story is the diamond rosary. The story tells us
that the princess was asking for something that was not worth to ask for. Humans are
the same as they desire for temporal matters, run after them, but in return, they
just struggle with the catch. That is the happiness in this world! If we turn back
to the Way, we will be able to attain the true happiness.
When talking about true happiness in Buddhism, I would like to exemplify it with Maitreya
Bodhisattva. Have you ever seen his sad face? He always laughs. There are two types
of statues: one has him sitting with his big belly and smiling. In the other one,
he is sitting with six kids. One kid picks his ear, one picks his nose, one pick his
eye, and one tickles him...Regardless what they do, he keeps laughing. For whatever
we see is good, whatever we hear is pleasant, and whatever we tastes good...we are
excite to claim that it's the happiness. In the reverse situation, we feel uncomfortable
and claim it a misfortune. Maitreya Bodhisattva was disturbed by the kids, which was
against his will. Why did he still laugh? We laugh when we feel satisfied and get
angry when we feel uncomfortable. Therefore, our happiness is limited. We are sad
more than we are happy. Maitreya Bodhisattva is always happy because he is not bothered
by the favor or disfavor of the six organs. What had he practiced to attain such happiness?
The suttra stated that he always practiced a method called "Contemplation of Consciousness".
To make it simpler, we say he practice the virtues of "Rejoicing" and "Joyful Let
Go." In some temples, you will a box for donation. It writes at the front "Rejoicing."
When seeing people making donation, we rejoice to make donation or when seeing others
making good deeds, we rejoice to do the same things. But in reality, when seeing someone
that is more successful than us, should you rejoice or envy? Should you be happy or
sad when seeing some else with better clothes than yours? "A bit." (the mass answered).
Shoud you be happy or sad when seeing other people's house is better than yours? "A
little bit." (the mass answered). Sadness means jealousy or not "tuy hi". Because
of his compassion, Maitreya Bodhisattva perceives people's suffering and joy as his.
Therefore, he is happy when someone makes a good deed. Who practices the virtue of
"Tuy hi" will be happy when someone is better than him/her. We should be happy for
someone who is better or looks better by saying, "I am happy for you. Because you
have earned much of blessing, you have a nice appearance and noble mind." Seeing person
with a new bike, we should say, "I'm happy for your prosperity." Doing so, we could
be in joy all day, meanwhile, we could gain people's affections. Contrarily, if we
become envied to say "That woman likes to show off her appearance..." or "That man
tries to show off his possessions...," we cause them to dislike us. We live in a small
one story house, while other people live in a big two or three stories house. If we
envy, then we will saying negative words to ease our mind of jealousy. In the other
hand, if we appraise them by saying "I'm happy to see that you own a nice house,"
people will admire our mind of rejoicing and even invite us to their house. Bad mouthing
could be a harm to ourselves. Thus, which one is more beneficial, the envy or rejoicing?
The arising of rejoicing has brought joy to ourselves and others. Contrarily, the
mind of envy will cause a discomfort and suffering to ourselves and others. Rejoicing
causes no damage or harm to our money. It just requires us to be happy when seeing
other people's conditions better than ours. It's a deed that is costless, harmless,
and beneficial. Why don't we do it? As long as we still have a mind of jealousy, we
become cranky, unhealthy, and hateful. Though, we still do it!
The Buddha had said, "Any person arises a mind of rejoicing for someone who is making
good deed, then he/she will earn as much as merit the other person has earned."
A Bhikklus asked: "World Honored One. If one has merit as much as the other person
has earned, then should he/she share his/her merit when the other person's merit lessen?"
The Buddha made an example, "Let's say there is a torch that has already been lightened
up. A person holds another torch and light it up from the first one. While the fire
is burning on the second torch, the fire continues to burn on the first one. The light
is not changing. It's the same that the merit of the person who makes good deed would
never be lessened or shared."
A person who has earned merit a hundred times with a person with the mind of rejoicing
has earned the same amount. Why do the person with the mind of rejoicing has the same
merit when he/she has not done anything? It's because he/she has let go the mind of
greed. Otherwise, he/she would never waste energy to help others. One has let go the
mind of greed and the other one has let go the mind of jealousy. Both have let go
bad habits, therefore, they have the same merit. Do you think that we should practice
the virtue of rejoicing? It's not difficult, not costy, just only requires you to
rejoice. Thus, we are joyful all day and loved by everyone.
Maitreya Bodhisatva had practiced the virtue of rejoicing, therefore, he was always
happy. On the other hand, what practice have we done to be suffered all the time?
Is it because we keep letting the envy arise? If we can practice by living with the
mind of rejoicing, we would be able to be happy like him.
He also practiced the virtue of "joyful let go." All of us here have been mad at someone
else, at least 5 to 10 people. When you are angry, do you feel cool or hot? "Hot."
(the mass answered). The heat is the flame of hatred. You should notice a log would
dry up if it has been burned for a long time. It's the same that whoever often gets
mad will easily become ill and gaunt. In each moment of angriness, our face reflects
a mean look which makes others hate us. Meanwhile, we feel uncomfortable. There are
people who are mad at other people for the rest of their life. How can they be happy
when they are mad all their life? Don't ever think that the longer you are mad, the
better it it. Whoever has hatred is the person who carries the fire. If you are angry
at some one, can you sleep? You will toss all night. When your eyes are closed, the
image or thought of the people you hate show up. Those thoughts of hatred arise constantly
to cause heachahe. You become eatless, which leads to an ailment. A long time ailment
will cause death. Thus, the person who carries the hatred is smart or dull? Well,
he/she is too ignorant. We need to practice the virtue of "joyful let go" to unleash
all hatred because our life time is too short. If we still carry it, we still suffer.