Author Topic: Being Happy First  (Read 7556 times)

Andrew

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Being Happy First
« on: November 01, 2011, 07:12:10 AM »
One of my favourite little sayings at the moment is "Start where you plan on finishing!"

For a long time, meditation to me has been the 'hope of happiness'; a means to an end. I've come to see though that meditation is closer to open heart surgery than a pleasant stroll in the park....

How many people realise that happiness is actually a prerequisite to good meditation? And if you sit down sad or depressed you really are not going to get far.

The suttas say there are 7 main factors for enlightenment. Factors, not fruit. The seed comes first, that is the factor in getting a tree and having a tree is the factor in getting fruit. We are born with the seeds.

Innate in all of us are the factors of enlightenment. We choose to water them, we don't put them there.

Mindfulness

Investigation of truth

Energy

Happiness

Relaxation

Concentration

Equanimity.

I hope this doesn't seem preachy, it has been going through my head all day and lines up with so much of what I've come to see over the last month.

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chintan

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2011, 01:57:08 PM »
Tis a vicious cycle.. maybe a study should be done on what type of people are drawn to meditation. Are they the ones who have the seeds or are they the ones who are seeking the seeds as fruit (maybe mistakenly so).

Important distinction you have pointed out. Personally for me Investigation of truth, Happiness, Relaxation and
Equanimity were part of the fruit set ... will now try to get the seeds.

There is a great couplet by Poet Saint Kabir

look at the joy of the world
that eats, drinks and sleeps in peace
fated but is poor Kabir
stays awake and cries

There is recognition of pain and desire of deliverance from it as a pre-requisite in my view.. 

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2011, 02:09:06 PM »
Perhaps I'm lumping the factors all together too much, but the more I learn about mindfulness, and the more i learn about happiness and how they seem to lead to the others, the more I see that we are dealing with a very real part of our makeup.
i.e. we are working within human potential, not tacking something over the top of it.

Sort of like 'It is in the genes', we simply switch off the 'trying and striving' gene and pay attention (sati) to the senses and the natural happiness to be found in simple things like being in and breathing the air, and the others follow along as a package deal!



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Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2011, 01:22:31 AM »
a thought or two,

When we are aware of our sensate experience (mindful) we detect pleasurable aspects of it (happiness-for me it is triggered by the touch of the air on the skin). When something disturbs us we investigate why and what has dragged us away from the pleasant feelings (investigation of truth), we find out as quickly as possible and do what we can (energy) to get back to the sense of happiness. As we built the neural pathways that form this into a habit, when chill out (relaxation) and don't stress about stuff in life (equanimity), we become really good at being in the here and now (concentration). Do this enough and we have got our shit together (enlightenment)
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Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2011, 02:50:55 AM »
Tis a vicious cycle.. maybe a study should be done on what type of people are drawn to meditation. Are they the ones who have the seeds or are they the ones who are seeking the seeds as fruit (maybe mistakenly so).

Important distinction you have pointed out. Personally for me Investigation of truth, Happiness, Relaxation and
Equanimity were part of the fruit set ... will now try to get the seeds.

There is a great couplet by Poet Saint Kabir

look at the joy of the world
that eats, drinks and sleeps in peace
fated but is poor Kabir
stays awake and cries

There is recognition of pain and desire of deliverance from it as a pre-requisite in my view..

I think there is alot to what you have said here. The suffering saint, suffering for the world, bearing it's sins, the path of suffering etc etc all have that one thing in common, 'the hero mentality.' Who would walk that path except someone already really good at suffering and is seeking acknowledgement of their skill?

I for one!

No more hero, no more saint, just another happy human hoping to help others be happy too, if they want of course.

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chintan

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #5 on: November 02, 2011, 03:53:23 AM »
Who would walk that path except someone already really good at suffering and is seeking acknowledgement of their skill?

Who is actually suffering? The monk who has let go of all attachments but gets impacted by suffering of others and of the world at large or an average person who is fighting demons of Mara and Maya day in and day out..

I think people who are really good at suffering are those who are able to block of sight of the Chinese infant lying injured on the street..  who can walk away suppressing basic human instincts..

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #6 on: November 02, 2011, 04:11:39 AM »

Who is actually suffering? The monk who has let go of all attachments but gets impacted by suffering of others and of the world at large or an average person who is fighting demons of Mara and Maya day in and day out..


Thats what I mean, that is the trap, the idea of the hero, that such suffering for the hero is worthwhile. Suffering is not worth while. Suffering is the self. The selfing process is the suffering and the suffering is the selfing process. If the monk is free from selfing, then there is no possibility of the monk (I assume you mean truly enlightened monk) to actually suffer for himself, let alone others.

My understanding of the devil/mara,

Mara is the personification of human suffering as a whole, just as the self is the personification of personal suffering. Monks do not fight by suffering, but through example  and following the path to the cessation of suffering.

I was on this trip (of the hero)  as it seemed to be the only gig in town; lament the worlds woes, get angry about the injustice, otherwise be the proverbial "Man of Sorrows", but it is a  dead end. Everyone expects it of the 'hero' though. That the leader, monk, saint, should take on themselves the worlds suffering and sort it out.


Our entire human mindset is geared towards setting up leaders and lumping them with suffering in the hope that they will end it for us. Give us the magic words perhaps, fight the devil/mara for us etc etc Intercede for us before the throne of god etc etc. Everywhere you turn there are job vacancies to be someone's hero saviour.

All a bad habit really. Once the individual gets it that they are there own best friend, that they have within them (in their actual bodymind) all they need to be whole (enlightened) then the real healing starts.

I was thinking at lunch that it is actually a skill just to let yourself feel neutral/pleasant without spinning off to search for more/better!
« Last Edit: November 02, 2011, 04:14:13 AM by Andrew »
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Quardamon

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #7 on: November 02, 2011, 11:02:18 AM »
In my opinion, the one who takes on the suffering of others just because the others want him to, is a doormat and not a hero.
If a monk can feel the suffering of an other person and work through it, than that monk would have a quite deep understanding of how such suffering can be carried and dealt with. So it helps the monk to teach the sufferer on what to do.

Daiho mentioned Joan Halifax and her book "Being with Dying". She is deep into Buddhism now, being a roshi. In 1988 she had a book out called: "Shaman - the wounded healer". She now has as a motto: "Strong back, soft front". "Strong back" indicating a willingness to stay with what is and not walking away, and "soft front" indicating a gentleness and kindness toward others (people, but also experiences that knock on the door).

Frits Koster has made it his habit to do a metta meditation early in a weekend or longer retreat. That brings to the fore the 7 main factors for enlightenment that you mention, in a very easy way.

Thank you for mentioning this, Andrew.

Quardamon

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #8 on: November 02, 2011, 11:05:18 AM »
P.S.: I do think that is is elegant if those that feel happy do not close the doors for the suffering of others.

Stefan

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #9 on: November 02, 2011, 12:49:08 PM »


My understanding of the devil/mara


Mara=Devil is not true in my understanding.

To me, mara is the spirit inside this universe that creates illusion (the veilweaver), illusions that are there to be overcome. Mara sets up the game, mara builds the labyrinth, and we, the players, are to find the path out of it.
The devil is the player who fell into the illusiontrap deepest and therefore creates the biggest amounts of mischief, while he actually is the main victim.
anicca

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2011, 02:07:10 AM »
P.S.: I do think that is is elegant if those that feel happy do not close the doors for the suffering of others.

I'm assuming you mean 'those who are happy should not ignore the suffering of others'?

In that case agreed  :)

I have live an entire life to this point aware of suffering. both mine and the worlds. So I think the 'know the issue' stage is over for me. Now it is solving the issue stage.

I've been reflecting on happiness and whether it is truly an emotion (a positive thing, something real) and I don't think it is, I think it simply the thinnest area of the selfing overlay. Like a silk veil vs a heavy canvas tarpaulin!

happiness= selfing process most easily penetrated by mindful awareness

sadness= selfing process least penetrated by mindfulness

choose happy, punch holes it is hourly with mindfulness, and watch the whole thing drop away. then the thing which it was covering, true happiness, is revealed.

Just a thought or two..
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mettajoey

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #11 on: November 03, 2011, 11:28:04 AM »
I think if it is more significant to first understand what we bring to the show.  We can have a certain perception of events and some events are quite obvious, but is always interesting when we hear 'the rest of the story' or see it through another perspective.  This highlights how our own storytelling factors into our perception.  Without truly knowing how our conditioning affects our perception of events do we really see it clearly?  How much harm has been done through 'helping' throughout history?

I think our conditioned perspective affects both 'happiness' and 'sadness' equally.  How could it not?
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #12 on: November 03, 2011, 12:26:40 PM »
It could not, unless they were the conditioning itself. In which I would argue with one we are up to our ankles in the proverbial creek, the other in over our necks...
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mettajoey

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #13 on: November 03, 2011, 01:54:26 PM »
It could not, unless they were the conditioning itself. In which I would argue with one we are up to our ankles in the proverbial creek, the other in over our necks...

I think we agree.

As a metaphor, our conditioning is the lens in which we see and interpret the world and events.  That lens affects all input equally.



 :)
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2011, 12:53:51 AM »
Right.

so happy is lens with a slight tint to them,  sad is lens made from car brake lights; can't see through them at all! Our conditioning (the totality of 'us') is at it's clearest when happy. It is a only a thin veil over true healing and wholeness. Sort of the opposite direction to the depression route of find a solution, get really happy before stepping off the edge, metaphorically speaking...
« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 02:13:01 AM by Andrew »
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barrec

Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2011, 06:52:05 AM »
One of my favourite little sayings at the moment is "Start where you plan on finishing!"

For a long time, meditation to me has been the 'hope of happiness'; a means to an end. I've come to see though that meditation is closer to open heart surgery than a pleasant stroll in the park....

How many people realise that happiness is actually a prerequisite to good meditation? And if you sit down sad or depressed you really are not going to get far.

The suttas say there are 7 main factors for enlightenment. Factors, not fruit. The seed comes first, that is the factor in getting a tree and having a tree is the factor in getting fruit. We are born with the seeds.

Innate in all of us are the factors of enlightenment. We choose to water them, we don't put them there.

Mindfulness

Investigation of truth

Energy

Happiness

Relaxation

Concentration

Equanimity.

I hope this doesn't seem preachy, it has been going through my head all day and lines up with so much of what I've come to see over the last month.

I find wisdom in that. In my (very) short time meditating, I have sat down with a variety of emotions going in and can say I've yet to feel 'better' for my time. Rather than meditate to shape my day, I hope my good choices make for good days and good sits.

I've also heard superficially of psychological studies that suggest physical acts of happiness (smiling, for example) can influence emotion. That is, if you want to feel happy, force yourself to smile and you will bring about psychological change. I think this supports your comments quite well. Enlightenment is not a bi-product. It is a conscious act and a work in progress, and you might as well bring your best self to each practice.

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #16 on: November 04, 2011, 07:11:32 AM »
that's pretty much it Everett, why be unhappy in this moment? What really pressing reason do we have to continue to feel bad if we don't actually have too?

Emotional highs aren't the eventual goal, it's more like emotional highs are actually when the 'felt sense of self' is at it's thinnest and we can work to recognise each factor at work already, when we have let our bad mood carry on for hours /weeks /years we start hoping for a magic pill "If I just do more meditation I will get happy"

That to me is like saying "If i just run this marathon, climb Everest and swim the channel, I will be happy" Meditation is hard work sometimes as many find out, it isn't a walk in the park.

Go in happy, or don't go in at all. Sorta like Luke and Yoda in Starwars, "you find what you bring with you"

If you sit (meditate) and start to get sad, stop, you've had enough for today. Go for a nice walk, have a cup of tea! Go to bed and have a sleep. Sad is not a good place to start or finish.

You are allowed to be happy all the time, even if you have to hide your smile for reasons of social politeness!!
« Last Edit: November 04, 2011, 07:13:41 AM by Andrew »
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Quardamon

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2011, 09:34:25 PM »
P.S.: I do think that is is elegant if those that feel happy do not close the doors for the suffering of others.

I'm assuming you mean 'those who are happy should not ignore the suffering of others'?

In that case agreed  :)

No, that is not what I mean. But I am on a different path than you are. So it is important that you understand your path and I mine.
I seem not to have Theravada ideals. Maybe the bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana comes close. At any rate, the vision I live with is, that there is suffering always. And part of the suffering can be cleared away. By therapy, or by meditation. Even Freud had the vision that if one is free of ones neurotic suffering, then one can feel the real, existential suffering. (And that is where Buddhism has an answer, and Freud not, by the way.)
I would feel totally lost with this ideal of living-happily-ever-after, or being in some jhana all the time, or never-incarnating-any-more.
In my vision, through meditation one grows more and more sensitive. And more versatile. So one might navigate jhanas, but also, one might sense the suffering of a neighbour, or of a friend. I am still not sure if this helps a friend. And if so, wether it might make him lazy. ;) A friend of mine, with whom I talked about this and who is into shamanism said: "Well, it will help you to understand where the other person stands, so you can give a heart-felt advice. But in itself, suffering for others will not help them."

But I do like the post with which you started this thread, and what I read from you in the last two weeks in general.

In the time I made my Black Pipe, I read the book 'Original Blessing' by Matthew Fox. He points out, that in the Christian/ Jewish creation story Blessing is far more basic than original sin. Well, maybe I got carried away, mentioning this.

Be well and happy,

Quardamon

Andrew

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #18 on: November 16, 2011, 04:44:47 AM »
I always like it when you get carried away Q.

The blessing is indeed far in excess of the sin and also comes first.

Dealing with sin before realising the blessing is not the way to go. IMHumbleO  8)

there is negation and there is affirmation, but underneath there is a fundamental affirmation that allows them both to exist at all.
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Quardamon

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Re: Being Happy First
« Reply #19 on: November 16, 2011, 10:20:26 AM »
Amen to that.

 

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