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Happiness by Matthieu Ricard

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Happiness or learning to be happy according to the Buddhist way.

We live in a world that seems to be much more comfortable than it has ever been. However, despite this observation, we discover that there are still as many unhappy people and even more than before. How can we elucidate this enigma? Matthieu Ricard gives us an element of answer and much more than that, he shows us the Buddhist way to happiness.

Who is Matthieu Ricard? He is a French Buddhist monk who lives in Tibet. He is the official translator of the Dalai Lama in French.

If we can say one thing about Buddhism, it is that it is a kind of science of happiness. The very purpose of Buddhism is the attainment of enlightenment, which is the highest level of human consciousness. It is a synonym of happiness since it is a state freed from all troubles and thus close to the Greek term ataraxia.
Do not confuse pleasure and happiness

The comfort we all enjoy makes a thousand and one forms of pleasure accessible. Pleasure is defined as the ephemeral satisfaction of a need or a desire. It usually comes from a relationship with the outside world. Conversely, happiness is defined as a state of plenitude that is not linked to what is outside of us. It is above all a state that is based on our relationship with our inner world.
Suffering is inevitable

Being an organic entity, humans are exposed to the agonies of life that are aging and then finally death. It is perhaps even what defines the living in relation to the non-living (the mineral world for example), that there is a change that tends progressively towards death. What is the point of resisting this inevitable march? What can be avoided, however, is our reaction and our attachments to what appears to be non-permanent. It is much better to base our happiness on something permanent (such as moral values) rather than on things that change and escape us (beauty, fame etc.)

Pain is a construct of our mind

Since suffering is inevitable, we must change our relationship with it. This requires first and foremost the acquisition of a state of well-being without attachment, the nirāmisa sukha as opposed to the well-being linked to sense pleasure, the sāmisa sukha.

We must therefore re-learn to “rewire” our brain so that it experiences a profound well-being that comes primarily from meditation and spiritual practices provided by Buddhism. Meditation reinforces the dhyāna which is the state of meditation and contemplation. Having worked your mind through meditation makes you less vulnerable to the fluctuations of life.

Joy and happiness

Once the meditative state is engaged in your daily life, you will be able to experience joy, which is the emanation of happiness, much more often. Joy is like the warmth of a candle. The flame is your meditative state made possible by the match that lights the wick of the candle which is your meditative practice. The only conscious search you can have must be for the lighting of the wick, the rest is just a consequence of this initial action. True joy is deep and uncontrolled in some way as it emanates from you.
The ego trap

You are not your work, your body, or your nationality. That’s your packaging. You are what vibrates inside of you. Let go of all these veils and go in search of your true nature. Who are you really? This is the question you will have to answer once you have lost your job, your beauty (through old age), your body (through death), your possessions (also through death) etc. Get to the point. Think beyond these masks.

Cultivate good emotions

There are toxic and beneficial emotions. Toxic emotions increase your pain. Beneficial emotions increase your fullness and sense of serenity. Toxic emotions are the consequences of your psychic state, they must be considered as indicators. To fight them, you must eliminate them at the root by meditation in particular. What are they? They are anger, hatred, greed (or any other excessive manifestation of desire) etc. Conversely, joy, benevolence, generosity, etc. are emanations of a healthy and happy psychic state.

A basic principle

Advocating for Happiness teaches us that a toxic emotion drives out a beneficial emotion and vice versa. You cannot be both hateful and compassionate. This is why it is necessary to focus on developing beneficial emotions: toxic emotions will leave on their own.

Meditation is familiarization

According to the Tibetan etymology of the word, meditation is actually a way of becoming familiar with a distinct and higher view of the world.

True happiness is altruistic

There is no such thing as selfish happiness. You will only be happy if you seek the happiness of others.

Go to the essence

One of the keys to happiness is to know how to distinguish what is essential from what is accessory. Always question your achievements and your certainties. Try to go to the essential and get rid of what brings confusion, discomfort or unhappiness.

You will die but you are alive

Plea for Happiness reminds us that the basis of Buddhist wisdom is to remember the existence of death, which means making choices as a living person. Denying or forgetting death is how we end up living an absurd existence. Making the right choices is about putting them in perspective with our fatal outcome of death.

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