The Joy of Living - Unlocking the Secret and Science of Happiness


How much do I want to read more? 8/10

I was rather dubious at first when picking this book. It turns out it's very interesting. Fresh and new. Different from other spiritual books.
It's another angle to approach self-knowledge and tuning in.
I pretty like it, and will read on.


FOREWORD - DANIEL GOLEMAN

During a meditation on compassion, neural activity in a key center in the brain’s system for happiness jumped by 700 to 800 percent! For ordinary subjects in the study, volunteers who had just begun to meditate, that same area increased its activity by a mere 10 to 15 percent. These meditation experts had put in levels of practice typical of Olympic athletes.
Yongey Mingyur is something of a prodigy here. As a young boy, he received profound meditation instructions from his father, Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche.
When he was only thirteen, Yongey Mingyur was inspired to begin a three-year-long meditation retreat.

INTRODUCTION

According to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, great teachers who have achieved the highest states of enlightenment are said to be moved by enormous compassion to be reborn again and again in order to help all living creatures discover in themselves complete freedom from pain and suffering.

When he first told me about the depth of anxiety that characterized his childhood, I found it hard to believe that this warm, charming, and charismatic young man had spent much of his childhood in a persistent state of fear. It’s a testament not only to his extraordinary strength of character.

What has impressed me most during the time I’ve known him, though, is his capacity to meet every challenge with not only an enviable degree of composure, but also with a sharp, ingeniously timed sense of humor. On more than one occasion during my stay in Nepal, while I was droning on over the transcript of our previous day’s conversation, he would sometimes pretend to fall asleep or make as if to bolt out the window. In time I realized he was simply “busting” me for taking the work too seriously, demonstrating in an especially direct manner that a certain amount of levity is essential to Buddhist practice.

-- ERIC SWANSON

PART ONE - THE GROUND

All sentient beings, including ourselves, already possess the primary cause for enlightenment.

-- GAMPOPA, The Jewel Ornament of Liberation

1- THE JOURNEY BEGINS

If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism.

-- ALBERT EINSTEIN

WHEN YOU’RE TRAINED as a Buddhist, you don’t think of Buddhism as a religion. You think of it as a type of science, a method of exploring your own experience through techniques that enable you to examine your actions and reactions in a nonjudgmental way, with the view toward recognizing, “Oh, this is how my mind works. This is what I need to do to experience happiness. This is what I should avoid to avoid unhappiness.”

At its heart, Buddhism is very practical. It’s about doing things that foster serenity, happiness, and confidence, and avoiding things that provoke anxiety, hopelessness, and fear. The essence of Buddhist practice is not so much an effort at changing your thoughts or your behavior so that you can become a better person, but in realizing that no matter what you might think about the circumstances that define your life, you’re already good, whole, and complete. It’s about recognizing the inherent potential of your mind.

In other words, Buddhism is not so much concerned with getting well as with recognizing that you are, right here, right now, as whole, as good, as essentially well as you could ever hope to be.
You don’t believe that, do you?
Well, for a long time, neither did I.

a confession:
From earliest childhood, I was haunted by feelings of fear and anxiety. My heart raced and I often broke out in a sweat whenever I was around people I didn’t know.
There wasn’t any reason for the discomfort I experienced.
I lived in a beautiful valley, surrounded by a loving family.
Nevertheless, anxiety accompanied me like a shadow.

Sometimes I’d go into a cave and pretend to meditate. Of course, I really had no idea how to meditate. I’d just sit there mentally repeating Om Mani Peme Hung, a mantra.
Sometimes I’d sit for hours, mentally reciting the mantra without understanding what I was doing. Nevertheless, I started to feel a sense of calm stealing over me.
Yet even after three years of sitting in caves trying to figure out how to meditate, my anxiety increased until it became what would probably be diagnosed in the West as a full-blown panic disorder.

I tried to rest my mind in the way he taught, but my mind wouldn’t rest. In fact, during those early years of formal training, I actually found myself growing more distracted than before. All sorts of things annoyed me: physical discomfort, background noises, conflicts with other people. Years later I would come to realize I wasn’t actually getting worse; I was simply becoming more aware of the constant stream of thoughts and sensations I’d never recognized before.

the basis of my anxiety lay in the fact that I hadn’t truly recognized the real nature of my mind.
not the kind of direct experience that would have enabled me to see that whatever terror or discomfort I felt was a product of my own mind, and that the unshakable basis of serenity, confidence, and happiness was closer to me than my own eyes.

A MEETING OF MINDS

We have to go through the process of sitting down and examining the mind and examining our experience to see what is really going on.

-- KALU RINPOCHE, The Gem Ornament of Manifest Instructions