Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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mikenz66
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Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by mikenz66 »

Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness
By Buddhistdoor Buddhistdoor Global 2016-07-08


...

It would be easy for an outsider to conclude from this material that cultivating and promoting happiness is one of the highest priorities of Buddhism. Popular media outlets like The Huffington Post, for example, have latched on to Buddhism’s potential to serve the cause of happiness: “Here are four essential lessons from Tibetan Buddhism that can help in your own pursuit of happiness,” opens one piece. And while the intentions are perfectly reasonable and good, even the advice has been reworded in a conspicuously “Huffington Post-style” way, as in “Get intimate with your own mind” and “Connect with others who support your journey.” It is not that these are incorrect nuggets of advice—it is that they are framed within the secular context of the quest for happiness.

...

Buddhism teaches a completely counterintuitive idea of happiness based on no-self (the idea that neither our personal identity nor appearances exist inherently), non-reification, and non-grasping. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are living in a cosmic illusion (Skt. maya) conditioned by death and rebirth. The Buddhist teachings lift the veil of falsehood and illusion that binds us to the dream of samsara, helping us awaken to the truths of the universe and the cosmos of the Buddhas.

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/bu ... -happiness
:anjali:
Mike

Dan74
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by Dan74 »

It reminded me of the Ajahn Chah quote, Ajahn Brahm repeats often:

"Joy at last to know there is no happiness in this world."

I always thought what these popular teachers like HH the Dalai Lama and Ven Ricard do, is a bit of a salesman pitch and also to counter the popular image of Buddhism as being dour and anti-life.

For my part, I think the middle way is neither pro nor anti - it's about freedom from delusion, from being enchanted by life's pleasures and games. The happiness that these teachers in the article 'sell' only shares its name with the common notion of happiness which is about having (wealth, success, validation, etc). In reality, Buddhist happiness is about freedom, but they 'hook' people through their unhappiness and their thirsting for peace from this unhappiness. Is it wrong? I don't think so.

Incidentally, a few friends have been to HH the Dalai Lama seminars on specific topics of Tibetal Buddhism and report that they are very very different that his popular image suggests. So once you are in, there are no more pleasant platitudes, the real work begins.
_/|\_

davidbrainerd
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by davidbrainerd »

Happiness is not about no-self but not-self as in dissociating from all the things that are not the self and being content to merely be the true self, which is devoid of pretty much everything you now think is the self, but that doesn't make it no-self.

SamKR
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by SamKR »

davidbrainerd wrote:Happiness is not about no-self but not-self as in dissociating from all the things that are not the self and being content to merely be the true self, which is devoid of pretty much everything you now think is the self, but that doesn't make it no-self.
"True self" is also not self.

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katavedi
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by katavedi »

SamKR wrote:
davidbrainerd wrote:Happiness is not about no-self but not-self as in dissociating from all the things that are not the self and being content to merely be the true self, which is devoid of pretty much everything you now think is the self, but that doesn't make it no-self.
"True self" is also not self.
Perfect. :clap:
“But, Gotamī, when you know of certain things: ‘These things lead to dispassion, not to passion; to detachment, not to attachment; to diminution, not to accumulation; to having few wishes, not to having many wishes; to contentment, not to discontent; to seclusion, not to socializing; to the arousing of energy, not to indolence; to simple living, not to luxurious living’ – of such things you can be certain: ‘This is the Dhamma; this is the Discipline; this is the Master’s Teaching.’”

SarathW
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by SarathW »

To me, Buddhism is all about happiness.
If there is no happiness I will not waste my time being a Buddhist.
One of my favorite sutta is Bahuvedaniya Sutta.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

Herbie
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by Herbie »

mikenz66 wrote:Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness
By Buddhistdoor Buddhistdoor Global 2016-07-08


...

It would be easy for an outsider to conclude from this material that cultivating and promoting happiness is one of the highest priorities of Buddhism. Popular media outlets like The Huffington Post, for example, have latched on to Buddhism’s potential to serve the cause of happiness: “Here are four essential lessons from Tibetan Buddhism that can help in your own pursuit of happiness,” opens one piece. And while the intentions are perfectly reasonable and good, even the advice has been reworded in a conspicuously “Huffington Post-style” way, as in “Get intimate with your own mind” and “Connect with others who support your journey.” It is not that these are incorrect nuggets of advice—it is that they are framed within the secular context of the quest for happiness.

...

Buddhism teaches a completely counterintuitive idea of happiness based on no-self (the idea that neither our personal identity nor appearances exist inherently), non-reification, and non-grasping. We need to constantly remind ourselves that we are living in a cosmic illusion (Skt. maya) conditioned by death and rebirth. The Buddhist teachings lift the veil of falsehood and illusion that binds us to the dream of samsara, helping us awaken to the truths of the universe and the cosmos of the Buddhas.

http://www.buddhistdoor.net/features/bu ... -happiness
:anjali:
Mike
Well I am not the one to say what buddhism teaches but if buddhism really is about happiness, even if completely counterintuitive, as the OP indicates then I know that I am right in not being a buddhist. Happiness ... what a cheesy idea :toilet:
Inspiration is based on the exchange of different linguistic expressions. But inspiration is best knowing how language relates to truth. :smile:

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samseva
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by samseva »

The complete absence of suffering is happiness.

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lionking
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by lionking »

Well, the Buddha speaks of "refined" happiness.

- I helped someone in need
- I understand what Buddha said all along

- 1st Jhana - I have withdrawn from sensual pleasures
- 2nd Jhana - I am in rapture to have internally and externally assured awareness without needing directed thought & evaluation
- 3rd Jhana - I remain equanimous, mindful, & alert as my sense pleasures and rapture subsides from 2nd Jhana
- 4th Jhana - I have abandoned pleasure & stress now in the purity of equanimity & mindfulness, neither-pleasure-nor-pain

- I have completely transcended perceptions of form/self pleasure and entered and remain in the dimension of infinite space
- I have completely transcended the dimension of infinite space and enters into the dimension of infinite consciousness
- I have completely transcended the dimension of infinite consciousness and enters into the dimension of nothing
- I have completely transcended the dimension of infinite nothingness and enters into the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception
- I have completely transcended the dimension of neither perception nor non-perception and enters a state with cessation of perception & feeling

The Buddha describes the last stage as another "Pleasure". Yet how can there be a pleasure with cessation of perception & feeling? He makes a clarification.

Now it's possible, Ananda, that some wanderers of other persuasions might say, 'Gotama the contemplative speaks of the cessation of perception & feeling and yet describes it as pleasure. What is this? How can this be?' When they say that, they are to be told, 'It's not the case, friends, that the Blessed One describes only pleasant feeling as included under pleasure. Wherever pleasure is found, in whatever terms, the Blessed One describes it as pleasure.'"
grr ..

chownah
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by chownah »

SarathW wrote:To me, Buddhism is all about happiness.
If there is no happiness I will not waste my time being a Buddhist.
One of my favorite sutta is Bahuvedaniya Sutta.

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
Great sutta! Thanks for bringing it. Also, I think there is a sutta where the buddha says something like it is through worldly happiness that we have faith and pursue the greater joy of awakening...or something like that.
Anyone know which one that is?
chownah

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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by Spiny Norman »

Dan74 wrote:In reality, Buddhist happiness is about freedom, but they 'hook' people through their unhappiness and their thirsting for peace from this unhappiness.
I agree.

“Just as, monks, the great ocean has one taste, the taste of salt, so, monks, this Dhamma and Discipline has one taste, the taste of freedom. That, monks, this Dhamma and Discipline has one taste, the taste of freedom, is the sixth wonderful and marvellous thing, monks, about this Dhamma and Discipline, which, having seen and considered, the monks delight in this Dhamma and Discipline."
https://suttacentral.net/en/ud5.5
Buddha save me from new-agers!

SarathW
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by SarathW »

something like, it is through worldly happiness that we have faith and pursue the greater joy of awakening...or something like that.
There is a Sutta ,how seen Dukkha lead to awakening. (variation of Dependent Origination)
Buddha see all feeling as Dukkha. (Dukkha vedana and Sukha vedana)
When Buddha said "Nibbana is Parmam Sukham" he meant cessation of perception and feeling.
So Nibbana is a different kind of happiness.
However you progress to Nibbna by refining Dukkha (not of flesh) or looking for more subtle pleasure than the pleasure of five senses (of the flesh).
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Goofaholix
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by Goofaholix »

The problem is the English word "happiness" covers a broad range of mental states, causes and conditions. Some are in line with Buddhist ideals, some are not or are trivial.

Either way I'd have said happiness is not so much a goal as a by-product of the Buddhist path.
“Peace is within oneself to be found in the same place as agitation and suffering. It is not found in a forest or on a hilltop, nor is it given by a teacher. Where you experience suffering, you can also find freedom from suffering. Trying to run away from suffering is actually to run toward it.” ― Ajahn Chah

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cjmacie
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by cjmacie »

"Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness"
Something about that seems in the right direction; but then reading the details at Buddhistdoor, the details on "why", especially with the takes on "self/no-self/not-self" (there and here), I ,admittedly, get confused, s/w less than "happy" -- too many variables.

"…peace from this unhappiness…." (from above in Postby Dan74 » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:15 pm, slightly out-of-context)
Now this is good, expresses some of what I hint at above. Peace from all this confusion (e.g. disparate snipets from this thread):
"… Buddhism is all about happiness…"
"… The complete absence of suffering is happiness…"
"… there is no happiness in this world…”
"… Happiness ... what a cheesy idea…"

The word "happiness" … who agrees as to what exactly it means? It seems the word must always be somehow qualified (also snipped from this thread):
"…the Buddha speaks of "refined" happiness…”
"… worldly happiness…"
"… counterintuitive idea of happiness…"
"…Nibbana is a different kind of happiness…"

Haven't we been through this topic recently in the thread "Happiness Paradox?" – including analyzing the Bahuvedanīyasuttaṃ ?
Although Than-Geof (translator of the cited version of this sutta) also frequently uses the word "happiness" in his teachings, always similarly qualified one way or the other, the Buddha, in that sutta, speaks only in terms of:
vedanā - feelings
sukhaṃ - pleasure.
The Buddha there catalogs a range of meanings of sukha ("pleasure"), perhaps comparable to the range of meanings of "happiness" used here and in general speech, but he carefully places them in a goal-directed hierarchy. As I'm told, his core teaching (e.g. the 4NT) focuses on dukkha and (as goal) freedom from it. Whether that freedom is at times paraphrased as a form of sukha (i.e. that of Nibbana) or in other ways, the gist of it, IMO, is the glorious peace of freedom, for example, from all this concern (chanda in its tanha form) with "happiness".

spacenick
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Re: Buddhistdoor View—Why Buddhism is Not All About the Search for Happiness

Post by spacenick »

Dan74 wrote:It reminded me of the Ajahn Chah quote, Ajahn Brahm repeats often:

"Joy at last to know there is no happiness in this world."
I love this one. Wonderful!

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