COMPLEXES AND THE SENSE OF A SEPARATE SELF
One basic problem that causes us to suffer is the idea that we are a separate self. This gives rise to the complexes of inferiority, superiority, and equality.
We create unnecessary pain when our reaction to an unpleasant event is to compare our self with other selves, reinforcing our illusion of separateness. We may feel a fleeting satisfaction when we tell ourselves, “I am better than he is. I don’t care what he says.” That’s the complex of superiority. Or we may try to immunize ourselves from disappointment by thinking, “I’ll never be as good as she is. There’s no point in trying.” That’s the complex of inferiority. Most people think the best way to deal with these complexes is to maintain the belief, “I am their equal.” But that is also a complex invented by the comparing mind.
GREENER GRASS: THE STORY OF THE BUDDHA AND MARA
Every life has its trials and tribulations. We can navigate them more skillfully when we don’t waste time and energy shooting ourselves with a second arrow—such as dwelling on how much greener the grass in our neighbor’s yard looks, compared to ours.
5. Five Practices for Nurturing Happiness
We don’t have to wait for the end of all suffering before we can be happy. Happiness is available to us right here and right now. But we may need to change our idea of happiness. Our idea of happiness may itself be the main obstacle keeping us from true happiness.
We have eyes. We can see the beautiful sky above us, but we often don’t appreciate what we have. Most of the time we just ignore it.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JOY AND HAPPINESS
If suddenly that person sees that there is an oasis ahead—trees with beautiful shade and a lake of fresh water—he will feel joy. When he arrives at the lake and actually cups the water and drinks, this is happiness. You can experience both.
The method here is simple. Breathing in, bring your mind home to your body. Establish yourself in the here and the now and recognize what is around you. Then joy and happiness arise easily, from your recognition of all the positive elements available right now.
WHY THE BUDDHA KEPT MEDITATING
Happiness is impermanent, like everything else. In order for happiness to be extended and renewed, you have to learn how to feed your happiness. Nothing can survive without food, including happiness;
We can condition our bodies and minds to happiness with the five practices of letting go, inviting positive seeds, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
THE FIRST PRACTICE: LETTING GO
Many of us are bound to so many things. We believe these things are necessary for our survival, our security, and our happiness. But many of these things—or more precisely, our beliefs about their utter necessity—are really obstacles for our joy and happiness.
Letting go takes a lot of courage sometimes. But once you let go, happiness comes very quickly.
RELEASING YOUR COWS
When the farmer was gone, the Buddha looked at his friends and smiled knowingly. “Dear friends, you are very lucky,” he said. “You don’t have any cows to lose.”
One of the biggest cows that we have is our narrow idea of happiness. You may suffer just because of your idea; and you continue to suffer until, one day, you are capable of releasing the idea and right away you feel happy.
Consider practicing to release your cows. Take a piece of paper and write down the names of your cows, the things you think of as crucial for your well-being. Perhaps this week you can start by releasing just one, perhaps two. Or perhaps each one takes a year or more. The more cows you release, the more joyful and happy you become.
THE STORY OF BADHIYA
when I was a governor my palace was guarded by hundreds of soldiers. But I was still very afraid. I was afraid robbers would come and kill me or at least take away all my valuables. So day and night I lived in fear. But last night I realized that now I have nothing to lose. I was sitting out in the forest at the foot of a tree, and never in my life have I felt so safe. Nobody wants to kill me anymore because I have no power, no wealth, and no jewels for anyone to take. I have nothing. Yet I finally have everything. I am touching such a great happiness and freedom.
THE SECOND PRACTICE: INVITING POSITIVE SEEDS
One way of taking care of our suffering is to invite a seed of the opposite nature to come up. As nothing exists without its opposite, if you have a seed of arrogance, you have also a seed of compassion.
THE THIRD PRACTICE: MINDFULNESS-BASED JOY
When we practice mindful breathing or mindful walking, we bring our mind home to our body and we are established in the here and the now. We feel so lucky; we have so many conditions of happiness that are already available. Joy and happiness come right away. So mindfulness is a source of joy. Mindfulness is a source of happiness.
You are a real artist. You know how to create joy and happiness any time you want.
It’s not a time when you force yourself to sit there, waiting for the bell announcing the end of the sitting. That would be a waste. These are very rare, very precious moments of life.
Many people in the world don’t have the time to sit and do nothing like that.
we have to learn how to enjoy every moment of our sitting—how to breathe, how to sit, to be nourrished and healed.
ENJOYING OUR STEPS
Our body is like a flower; it’s a wonder of life. There are so many wonders of life around us and inside us that we’re unable to be in touch with because we’re always in a hurry. We’re looking for something, maybe for some happiness. So we miss the life all around us; we walk like zombies, staring down at our smartphones or lost in our thoughts. We don’t enjoy our steps.
There’s no use in doing walking meditation if you don’t enjoy every step you make. It would be a waste of time.
If you can’t produce peace and joy in sitting meditation, then it’s of no use.
Enlightenment is always enlightenment about something. You are aware that you are alive; that is already enlightenment. You are aware that you have a body; that is already enlightenment. You are aware that your feet are strong enough for you to enjoy walking; that is also enlightenment.
being mindful of your teeth and of your brushing. When you go to the toilet, defecating or urinating, it’s also possible to enjoy that time. Mindfulness can change everything by helping you to really be there and enjoy whatever you’re doing.
Many of us have spent our lives pursuing material comforts. we have enough money; yet we’re not happy. Perhaps it’s because we aren’t practicing the mindfulness that would help us recognize the many conditions of happiness that are there.
MORNING VERSE FOR HAPPINESS
When you wake up in the morning, the first thing to do is to breathe and to become aware that you have twenty-four brand-new hours to live. This is a gift of life.
After I was ordained as a novice monk, I had to memorize many short verses to help me practice mindfulness.
Waking up this morning I smile.
I have twenty-four hours to live.
I vow to live them deeply
and learn to look at the beings around me
with the eyes of compassion.
You’re determined not to waste your twenty-four hours, because you know those twenty-four hours are a gift of life, and you receive that gift every morning. That is mindfulness.
There are more than fifty such verses that a new monk or nun has to memorize and practice throughout the day. When she brushes her teeth, she silently recites a verse. When he urinates, there is a verse to practice. When she puts on her robe, there is another verse for that. The practice of mindfulness means to be aware of everything you do in your daily life—to live more deeply every moment that is given you to live, so you won’t waste your time and waste your life.
We know how to nourish happiness with mindfulness. We get in touch with the wonderful elements of life in us and around us. We don’t need to run around. We don’t have to go looking into the future. The conditions are already there.
When you walk, it can be a celebration. When you breathe with awareness, it’s to celebrate. When we sit like that, we are celebrating; we’re celebrating life.
I suggest you take a piece of a paper and write down all the conditions for happiness available to you right now. One page may not be enough. Two pages may not be enough. Three or four pages may not be enough. When we recognize all these elements, it’s so easy to generate happiness.
THE FOURTH PRACTICE: CONCENTRATION
To stay in the present moment takes concentration. Worries and anxiety about the future are always there, ready to take us away. We can see them, acknowledge them, and use our concentration to return to the present moment.
When we have concentration, we have a lot of energy. We won’t get carried away by visions of past suffering or fears about the future. We dwell stably in the present moment so we can get in touch with the wonders of life, and generate joy and happiness.
Concentration is always concentration on something. If you focus on your breathing in a relaxed way, you are already cultivating an inner strength. When you come back to feel your breath, concentrate on your breathing with all your heart and mind. Concentration is not hard labor. You don’t have to strain yourself or make a huge effort.
THE FIFTH PRACTICE: INSIGHT
With mindfulness, we recognize the tension in our body.
Insight is seeing what is there. It is the clarity that can liberate us from afflictions such as jealousy or anger, and allow true happiness to come. Every one of us has insight, though we don’t always make use of it to increase our happiness.
We know this thing is not worth the sleep we’re losing over it. But still we go on spending our time and energy obsessing about it. if the fish makes use of that insight, he won’t bite, because he knows he’ll get caught by the hook.
6. Happiness Is Not an Individual Matter
If we are able to breathe happily, we can invite our ancestors to enjoy breathing in with our lungs. If we are able to enjoy walking, we can invite our ancestors to walk with our feet.
If we have loved ones who are suffering, one of the best things that we can do is to offer to sit or walk with them, and offer them our energy of mindfulness and peace.
BEING THERE FOR ANOTHER’S SORROWS
To be there is a practice. It could be that very often your body is there but your mind is elsewhere. You’re lost in your thinking, your sorrow, your fear; you’re not really there for her. So breathe in and focus your attention on your in-breath. You are bringing your mind home to your body and you become present. Simply to be there is the most important part of the practice.
COLLECTIVE SUFFERING, COLLECTIVE JOY
TAKING REFUGE IN ONESELF
We consume our environment as a kind of food, and its good or harmful elements seep into us.
Start by creating your own safe harbor, even if it’s only one corner of a room or a desk.
You can live in such a way that shows compassion is possible in any situation. Set an example, even if it’s a small one; other people can learn from it.
Practices for Happiness
ONE: THE SIXTEEN BREATHING EXERCISES
The first four are to take care of our body. The second set of four exercises takes care of our feelings. The third set of four focuses on the mind, and the fourth set focuses on objects of the mind.
Breathing in, I am aware of my in-breath.
Breathing out, I am aware of my out-breath.
This very simple exercice can help you to let go of your thinking, your worries, and your fear. It gives you a lot of freedom right away.
Breathing in, I follow in-breath all the way through.
Breathing out, I follow out-breath all the way through.
Follow your in-breath and out-breath closely, being aware of each one all the way through as if following a line with your finger.
Breathing like that, not only are you aware of your breath, you are fully concentrating on that breath.
Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body.
Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.
This exercice brings body and mind together. We are truly established in the here and nwo, living our life deeply in this moment.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I calm my body.
This exercice is to release the tension in the body. Releasing is a source of happiness.
Breathing in, I feel joy.
Breathing out, I feel joy.
We can make use of mindfulness to bring in a feeling of joy and place, any time.
Breathing in, I feel happy.
Breathing out, I feel happy.
Mindfulness helps us to recognize the many conditions of happiness we already have.
Breathing in, I am aware of a painful feeling.
Breathing out, I am aware of a painful feeling.
When a painful feeling or emotion manifests, we should be there to take care of it. With mindfulness, we recognize the pain, embrace it, and bring relief.
Breathing in, I calm my painful feeling.
Breathing out, I calm my painful feeling.
This exercice calms body and mind, and makes them peaceful. Body, mind, feelings, and breath are unified.
Breathing in, I am aware of my mind.
Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.
The river of mind flows day and night. Mental formations take turns manifesting.
We are there and recognize them as they arise, stay for some time, and go away.
Breathing in, I make my mind happy.
Breathing out, I make my mind happy.
We gladden the mind by inviting the good seeds to manifest. The landscape of the mind becomes pleasant.
Breathing in, I concentrate my mind.
Breathing out, I concentrate my mind.
We maintain awareness on the object of our concentration. Only concentration can liberate us from notions and bring insight.
Breathing in, I liberate my mind.
Breathing out, I liberate my mind.
With this exercice, we untie all the knots in the mind. Calmly, we observe the mind in all its subtlety, to free ourselves from such obstacles as sadness and anxiety.
Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas.
Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas.
The concentration on impermanence is a deep and wonderful path of meditation. It's a fundamental recognition of the nature of all that exists. Everything is in endless transformation and all things are without an independent self.
Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire.
Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.
Seing the true nature of our desire and the objects of desire, we know that hapiness doesn't lie in attaining those objects or in our hopes for future accomplishments.
We observe clearly the impermanent nature of all things, their coming into being and fading away.
Breathing in, I observe cessation.
Breathing out, I observe cessation.
Cessation means cessation of all the erroneous notions and ideas that keep us from directly experiencing the ultimate reality, and cessation of the suffering that's born from ignorance. Then we can be in touch with the wonderful true nature of the way things are.
Breathing in, I observe letting go.
Breathing out, I observe letting go.
This exercice helps us look deeply to give up desire and attachment, fear and anger. We don't let go of reality. We let go of out wrong perceptions about reality. The more we let go, the happier we become.
Our tendency is to think that if we let go, we’ll lose the things that make us happy. But the opposite is true. The more we let go, the happier we become.
TWO: THE SIX MANTRAS
A mantra is a magic formula. Every time you pronounce a mantra you can transform the situation right away;
What makes the mantra effective is your mindfulness and concentration. If you aren’t mindful and concentrated when you recite the mantra, it won’t work.
The first mantra is “I am here for you.”
To love someone means to be there for him or for her. This is an art and a practice. If you don’t have enough mindfulness and concentration, you can’t be there one hundred percent for yourself or for the other person.
The best thing we can offer another person is our true presence.
Before you can be there for someone else, you have to be there for yourself. So we practice this mantra first with ourselves. “I am here for you” also means that I am here for myself.
The first definition of love is to be there. This is a practice. How can you love if you are not there? In order to love you have to be there, body and mind united.
The second mantra is also very powerful and can create happiness for both of you at the same time. “Darling, I know you are there, and I am very happy.”
You have already produced your true presence, and so you are in a position to recognize the presence of another person, someone who is very precious to you.
“Your presence is very precious to me and is crucial for my happiness.”
You can’t make the second step unless you have made the first step. The first step is the first mantra. “I am here. I recognize my presence. I offer my presence to you, my beloved one.”
nothing is as precious as your presence.
With mindfulness you can make your presence fresher, more pleasant, more loving.
The third mantra is needed when you notice that the other person suffers.
First you practice breathing, sitting, or walking to restore your presence. Then you are ready to go to him and say, “Darling, I know you suffer, and that is why I am here for you.”
Because you are mindful, you know that something isn’t going well with the other person. If you’re able to notice that, then you can do something to help.
When you suffer and your beloved one ignores your suffering, then you suffer even more. But if the other person is aware of your suffering and offers his presence to you during these difficult moments, you suffer less right away.
The fourth mantra is a little bit more difficult, especially when you have too much pride in you. The fourth mantra is for when you yourself suffer, and you believe that the other person has caused your suffering.
Our natural tendency is to want to punish the other person. And the way we do that is to show her that “I can survive very well without you.” This is an indirect way of saying: “I don’t need you.” But that’s not true love. Many of us have made that mistake. I also have made that mistake.
But we learn. In fact, when we suffer we do need the other person. That’s the commitment we made in the beginning of our relationship.
When you suffer, you should tell her that you suffer and that you need her help. But we tend to do the opposite. We want to show her that we don’t need her. We prefer to lock ourselves in our room and cry instead of asking for help.
This is why we need the fourth mantra: “Darling, I suffer; please help.”
It’s so simple, yet it’s so difficult.
You have to recognize that you suffer. “Darling, I suffer. I want you to know it. Please help.” In fact the formula is really a little bit longer: “Darling, I suffer. I don’t understand why you have said such a thing to me. I don’t understand why you have done such a thing to me. I suffer. Please explain. I need your help.”
According to this practice, you have the right to suffer twenty-four hours, but not more. That’s the deadline. Then you have to practice the fourth mantra. If you can’t go to the person, you can use your mobile phone, your computer.
The mantra can be split into three parts. The first part is, “Darling, I suffer, and I want you to know.” That is sharing; you share your happiness and your suffering. “Please explain to me why you did that to me, why you said that to me. I suffer.”
The second part is: “I am doing my best.” It means I am a practitioner of mindfulness. and looking deeply into my suffering, to find out the root of my suffering. I’m now doing my best to practice looking deeply to recognize my anger and embrace it tenderly.
The third sentence is: “Please help.” This part can be a little bit diificult, but it’s very important; it takes some courage. Your suffering is her suffering. Her happiness is your happiness.
The three sentences are: “I suffer, and I want you to know it. I’m doing my best. Please help.”
The fifth mantra is “This is a happy moment.” This isn’t autosuggestion or wishful thinking.
This mantra is to remind us both that we are very lucky to have so many conditions of happiness available in the here and the now.
Sitting with him, walking with her, you may like to pronounce the fifth mantra, for us to remember how lucky we are to have so many conditions of happiness.
Recognizing that this moment is a happy moment depends on your mindfulness. Only mindfulness can help you touch the many conditions of happiness that are available in the here and the now.
Prevent thinking we are equal to, worse than, or better than another person.
When someone congratulates you or criticizes you, you can use the sixth mantra: “Darling, you are partly right.” This means that “Your criticism or praise is only partly right, because I have both weaknesses and strengths in me. If you congratulate me, I shouldn’t get lost and ignore the negative things in myself.”
“Darling, that is only partly true. You know that I have the other things in me too.” You retain your humility. You’re not a victim of self-delusion, because you know that you’re not perfect.
When the other person criticizes you, you can say the same thing, “Darling, you are only partly right, because I do have good things in me too.”