Part 2 In truth, being happy does not depend upon having successes or having our needs met in the way we want them to be met. Sometimes people do get the thing they want, but not done in the manner they wanted it to be done, so then it becomes unhappiness. Getting a raise happiness, getting a new car happiness, or getting the final tin soldier in your antique collection set happiness, are not the criteria of happiness. It is so interesting that this is still such an integral part of everyday philosophy because these ideas do not exist in the scriptures or even in the teachings of Christianity as happiness. However, it is like a teeter-totter. Over here, you have reasonable values regarding happiness and suffering by the great minds and philosophers from the Buddha to Socrates to Wittgenstein. Over here, you have a five hundred pound gorilla demanding that you obey society norms by seeking happiness through accepted common values.
Our perceptions of what is and what is not happiness form our opinions of what is valuable. That causes us to seek and mold our behaviors and strategies toward those goals. The mature individual becomes convinced to adopt certain priorities that will definitely destroy ineffective methods of hunting down happiness that harms themselves and others, like hunting down bunny rabbits and little Bambi deer. Taking a longer view of gaining a balanced life, they decide that they cannot harm others in order to gain benefit for themselves. Then, within that context they balance their own needs against the potential harm that personal gratification may cause others. These attitudes are discussed in much greater depth in the great commentaries and the Buddhist scriptures. Do take time to read, understand, and develop all of the logical processes that are behind these important ideas.
This mature individual cannot take a short-term gain in happiness and a long-term loss as a method. It would be like the farmer who eats the seed corn instead of planting it. We have concerns for the strategies that have been used in the past regarding the environment. Previous generations have often used our environment without regard for their own pleasure without thinking about future generations. This short-term view is also like a drug addict who takes harmful drugs to feel good, while at the same time they know it may cause their early death as well as terrible harm to their family.
As an individual matures, their practice motivation and strategies effortlessly define their personality and their seemingly separate personality’s life as a human being. You have already done a lot of work developing your personality, behaviors, and values. In a self-affirming way, how you react to situations and the methods you use to deal with situations recreate, mold, and shape your personality as well as having produced the strategies in the first place. This will continue to effortlessly produce more ideas and strategies. You do not even have to think very hard because it is automatic.
It is as though you personality has a life of its own, and you wear this personality as an aggregation of methods for daily living. However, it often seems as though the personality is the one who owns the life and we are compelled to follow a script of behaviors whether we want to or not. It knows what to do because of practiced strategies. Within this natural human dynamic, the mature individual deliberately hones strategies so that their personality becomes developed and effortless in doing the right things.
As one develops new and valuable strategies and methods in their personality, it allows, and actually facilitates further development of that individual in a systematic process. However, you do not become the marvelous personality that always knows what to do and how to do it, overnight. It requires practice, and then it requires thinking about whether this worked or did not work, so that you can have a tool for future development. To summarize this process; as the personality matures, your wishing to experience true happiness becomes stronger, that wish turns into a stronger version of itself, and you begin to desire to do something about it.
Of course, everyone wishes to be happy, but there are not many taking steps about acquiring true happiness. We should develop and think about valuable goals and then work toward making them happen. One of these goals is the valuable aspiration of the awakened state of enlightenment. To follow in the footsteps of Lord Buddha Shakyamuni is to wish to be rid of suffering and to wish to enter higher development.
People have many different ideas about what this enlightenment is so I asked a few students on your behalf. These are all somewhat interesting ideas: Wishing to know everything… wishing to be everywhere simultaneously….. What are some other good ideas? Wishing to definitively win the race….no, well, maybe some people have competitive ideas. It does not mean that that is what enlightenment is, but these are some ideas about the enlightened experience.. Wanting to be everlastingly happy… wanting to meet other enlightened beings….
I met someone who was quite insistent; they asked me several times, if I had met Jesus or if I had met Mohammad personally. I had to say that it is not like that …as though there was some church somewhere where all enlightened beings got together and shook hands. Anyway, this was their idea. I suppose it is as valid as any other idea, for them, but hopefully it was a transitional idea.
So anyway… enlightenment is a valuable goal. Even though we might not know exactly what this goal is, we do know that there are careful methods of working toward this goal. Because the Great Path to the awakened state is facilitated, should we get partially toward the goal and falter in our motivation, someone will come along and pick us up and set us straight. These are some thoughts about the value of enlightenment and community in our search for happiness. To be continued…