Who do I aim to make happy?

Buddhist ethical conduct including the Five Precepts (Pañcasikkhāpada), and Eightfold Ethical Conduct (Aṭṭhasīla).
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Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by lkearns » Thu Jul 25, 2013 12:52 am

I find myself confused in situations where, I can take 3 routes.

- 1 route makes another person happy.
- 1 route makes me happy, another person upset.
- 1 route makes me happy, another person happy, but involves lying (which results in me feeling guilty).

I am quite new to Buddhism and have come from a background of always aiming to please others, and neglect myself. Now aware of the importance of balance between compassion for myself and compassion for others, I end up in dillema like this.

Any words of teaching?

Thanks :)

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by SarathW » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:31 am

There are two type of happiness:
A)Happiness with sensual pleasures
b)Happiness without sensual pleasures.
Which one you are referring to?
“As the lamp consumes oil, the path realises Nibbana”

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by santa100 » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:32 am

The Buddha gave good advice on when and what to speak here.. http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by dagon » Thu Jul 25, 2013 1:51 am

The first question that you need to ask yourself should be is the route that I want to follow ethical and will it be beneficial to my development. If it is not beneficial then it is unethical anyway so please reconsider if your route will bring you happiness – in the long run.

Be mindful of the following:
The Five Precepts
I undertake to:
1. Abstain from killing living beings;
2. Abstain from taking that which not given;
3. Abstain from sexual misconduct;
4. Abstain from false speech;
5. Abstain from distilled substances that confuse the mind. (Alcohol and Drugs)
The underlying principle is non-exploitation of yourself or others. The precepts are the foundation of all Buddhist training. With a developed ethical base, much of the emotional conflict and stress that we experience is resolved, allowing commitment and more conscious choice. Free choice and intention is important. It is "I undertake" not 'Thou Shalt". Choice, not command.
The Five Precepts in positive terms
I undertake the training precept to:
1. Act with Loving-kindness;
2. Be open hearted and generous;
3. Practice stillness, simplicity and contentment;
4. Speak with truth, clarity and peace;
5. Live with mindfulness.

Clearly route 3 is out of the question
I assume that route 1 will make you unhappy
So you need to work on route 2, turn negatives into positives. Maybe something along the lines of I want to do this for these reasons – I had considered telling you this xxxxx but that would be a lie and I have too much respect for you xxx.

with metta

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Kim OHara
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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by Kim OHara » Thu Jul 25, 2013 2:55 am

except, perhaps, that "route 3 is out of the question" is a bit too absolute.
The word "lying" covers a lot of behaviour and some of it is excusable, particularly in low-level social situations, e.g. "Does my bum look big in this?" and similar questions. :tongue:
The main thing, IMO, is not to needlessly cause harm to anyone, followed by not to needlessly cause offence to anyone.

As for the choice between options (1) and (2) in the OP, I suggest considering your own welfare (happiness) as being just a bit less important than the other person's - in other words, err on the side of generosity and compassion, not on the side of selfishness.


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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by dagon » Thu Jul 25, 2013 4:57 am

To the OP I was reading this after reading your post – you may find it useful
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... tions.html

I know that this may be a bit of a drift, sorry

Sometimes the answer to telling someone something that maybe harmful or offensive is to get them to realize things for themselves.

There is an old lady that I work with, who among all of her other medical conditions has advanced dementia. She would constantly call out that she wanted to see her mother. The 2 typical responses from carers were to say: she will be here tomorrow, or your mother is dead!

As someone who aspires to follow the teaching of Buddha, and having the benefit of reading some of the Cannon what I do is to try and get the old lady to come to the truth herself. I would ask her if she was older than me, then I would say that my mother was dead. I would ask her if she was older than me, she would answer “yes, so I suppose my mother is dead as well”. She would be accepting of the truth because she had realized it for herself. Her behavior of call out would cease (which had been causing distress to other residents)

In this way I consider that I have been following the precepts and not preaching false Dhamma by deigning the First Noble Truth. What I so admire about Buddha’s teaching is that there are the answer to so many of the issues in our life. Taking refuge in the Buddha and Dhamma is what helps me do my job and deal with the stresses of work.

@ Kim - you are right i am too dogmatic - need to work on that, thanks

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by lkearns » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:13 am

I appreciate all these responses very much,
Good concepts to think on for future events :)

Thanks everyone!


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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by reflection » Thu Jul 25, 2013 10:26 am

Based on the limited information you gave, for me the choice would be nr 1. By making someone else happy, you also make yourself happy. Making yourself happy by making another person upset probably won't really make you all that happy. But it depends on context of course.

That said, follow your heart. It sounds cheesy, but that's where you can find all the answers. Internally we often 'know' what's best, but by thinking too much, it gets muddled and we get confused.

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by Justsit » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:08 am

IMO we can never "make" someone else happy. Each of us chooses our response to the actions of others; we are not required to be "happy" when someone does what we want, nor are we required to be unhappy when that person does what we do not prefer. We may act in a way that pleases others, but is that what "happiness" is?
Again, IMO, happiness comes from within, from acting with wisdom and compassion to the best of your ability.
Just some thoughts, YMMV.

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Re: Who do I aim to make happy?

Post by lyndon taylor » Thu Jul 25, 2013 11:29 am

Other people make me happy all the time, so I'm pretty certain, with right effort, I can make other people happy as well. If your practise is leading you away from happiness, and making you give up on giving happiness to others, I think a major change of direction is in order!!!!

One of the things I notice about monks or lamas I see as really aware is they simply radiate happiness and warmth, always a smile on their face, telling little jokes etc, they don't just express happiness for themselves but share it with everyone in the room. When I see a teacher that's somber and serious all the time, I instantly think, I don't really want what he's got, whether I'm right or wrong, that's how I see it.
18 years ago I made one of the most important decisions of my life and entered a local Cambodian Buddhist Temple as a temple boy and, for only 3 weeks, an actual Therevada Buddhist monk. I am not a scholar, great meditator, or authority on Buddhism, but Buddhism is something I love from the Bottom of my heart. It has taught me sobriety, morality, peace, and very importantly that my suffering is optional, and doesn't have to run my life. I hope to give back what little I can to the Buddhist community, sincerely former monk John


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