I came across many times with this search word “How to be happy” that bring people to this blog.
Instead of asking “How to be happy?”, why don’t we find out “Why are we not happy?” or “What makes us feel unhappy?”
There is nothing wrong with unhappy feelings. Just like happy feelings, they are impermanent. They arise in the mind, they stay for some time, they change, and they’ll disappear from the mind, not in our control at all, and they are not who we are. It’s just the egoistic mind reacts towards all the names and forms that it comes in contact with or doesn’t come in contact with, based on what it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, that generates momentary happy or unhappy feelings.
We are looking for happiness, or we want to be happy, it’s because we are not happy. If we are not unhappy, we don’t need to ask “How to be happy?”
Same as, we need to consult a physician or psychologist, to get some treatments or medicines when the body or the mind is sick. If the body or the mind is not sick, we don’t need to consult any physicians or psychologists, to get any treatments or medicines to cure any sickness, as there is none.
If we know the cause of unhappiness, and work on eradicating the cause of unhappiness, there is no need to look for happiness. Naturally we will be happy as we are.
If we don’t know why we are not happy or what is the cause of unhappiness, or we haven’t eradicate the cause of unhappiness, then even though sometimes we feel happy, it still doesn’t stop the egoistic mind to continue to experience unhappiness, which makes the mind restless and dissatisfies unceasingly. Even though we might find “happiness” in certain qualities of names and forms that we like and have, there’s no complete satisfaction in the “happiness” that we attained from qualities of names and forms that we like and want, if we have attachment towards these qualities of names and forms that give us the happy feelings. As we will have fear and worry at the same time due to the attachment towards the qualities of names and forms that we like and have, to be happy or satisfied.
We will have fear and worry towards losing these qualities of names and forms that we think what give us happiness, or we have fear and worry that the quality in these names and forms that we like, will change into something that we don’t like due the the law of impermanence.
This attachment towards the qualities of names and forms to be happy or unhappy, to feel satisfy or dissatisfy, or to be who we are, is due to ignorance and egoism.
There is nothing wrong with experiencing “unhappiness”. It is the aversion towards “unhappiness”, or “I don’t want to have any unhappy feelings” that makes the mind restless, dissatisfied and unhappy.
“Who is feeling happy or unhappy?”
It is the egoistic mind or the ego that is feeling happy or unhappy.
“Why does the ego feels happy or unhappy?”
Due to ignorance, or not knowing the Truth of names and forms, we think and believe that it is the objects of names and forms that makes us happy or unhappy.
It is not the objects of names and forms that make us happy or not happy. All these objects of names and forms have no intention nor power to make us happy or unhappy. It is the attachment from the ego towards all these qualities of names and forms that it likes and dislikes, agrees and disagrees with, that makes the ego feels happy or unhappy.
It is the identification with the body and the mind to be who we are, and the attachment towards what our minds believe what things are, labeling and categorizing all the objects of names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses as “good” or “bad”, “positive” or “negative”, “right” or “wrong”, “happiness” or “unhappiness”, that cause us to experience unhappiness.
When the ego comes in contact with the names and forms that it likes and wants, the ego feels happy and satisfied. When the ego doesn’t come in contact with the names and forms that it likes and wants, the ego feels unhappy and dissatisfied. When the ego comes in contact with the names and forms that it doesn’t like and doesn’t want, the ego feels unhappy and dissatisfied. When the ego loses the names and forms that it likes and wants, the ego also feels unhappy and dissatisfied.
It is the attachment of craving and aversion towards what the ego likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want, based on what the ego believes what things are, that generate pleasant and unpleasant reactions towards names and forms, which then manifest as happy and unhappy feelings (thoughts). All the objects of names and forms are just being what they are, they don’t have the quality or intention to be something good or bad, to give us happiness or unhappiness. They cannot make us happy or unhappy.
It is the impurities like anger, hatred, jealousy, fear, worry, agitation, depression, offensiveness, defensiveness, dissatisfaction, disappointment, feelings of hurt, guilt, and etc, that arise in the mind coming from the reaction of the ego towards what it likes and dislikes, that makes the mind to experience restlessness, or unhappiness.
When the mind is free from egoism, attachment, craving or aversion, ignorance, or impurities, that will allow the mind to experience peace, or contentment, it’s not necessarily has to be some kind of “happy” or “elevated” sensations or feelings.
“How do we eradicate the cause of unhappiness?”
Letting go of the ego and all the identifications and attachment towards all the names and forms that the mind perceives through the senses of what it sees, hears, smells, tastes, touches and thinks.
Letting go of attachment towards the restricted and conditioned thinking and beliefs in our own mind. Be open-minded to allow other people to have different thinking, beliefs, points of view, behavior, action, reaction.
Letting go of pride and arrogance about who and what we think we are. Letting go of the thinking, the beliefs, the worldly and spiritual knowledge, experiences and achievements, the actions and inactions, or the impermanent qualities of names and forms that are possessed by this body and mind, that we think that is who we are.
Letting go of judgment, comparison, intention and expectation.
Letting go of the desire to argue, to justify, to complain, to criticize, to condemn, to curse, to gossip, to slander, to mock, to be right, to be self-righteous, to be superior or inferior, to be important, to be meaningful, to be confident, to be somebody, to be perfect, and so on. Do our best in whatever we want and like to do, but what we do doesn’t determine who we are, nor does the desire of want to attain something in return be the motivation that motivates us to be doing something.
Letting go of attachment towards the worldly identity or self-image of who we think we are.
Letting go of attachment towards all our actions whether it’s for ourselves or for others, and renounce the fruit of actions. Do our best, perform all our duties and responsibilities, and allow the fruit of actions to be what it is, not expecting it to be the way that we like or want it to be, nor being determined or disturbed by the fruit of actions. Unaffected, undisturbed, uninfluenced and undetermined by success and failure, praise and condemn, criticism and compliment.
We need to be aware of the ego and the plays of the ego in our everyday life experiences. Guarding the mind to be free from egoism as much as we can, and starve the ego by stop giving it what it likes and wants. This might not be a pleasant experience as the ego will experience distressed, it will resist and rebel.
Just like when children ask for sweets, they will feel unhappy and cry if they don’t get the sweets that they like and want. If we think we love them and want them to be happy, and so we give them the sweets so that they will stop crying or being unhappy, but this will do more harm to them. This is the same as the ego.
We also train the mind to be in the present moment, free the mind from continue being affected, or disturbed, or influenced and determined by the past and the future which don’t exist at all in the present moment now. Letting go of the past which is nothing but pleasant and unpleasant experiences and memories that were already gone. Letting go of the future which is nothing but countless imagination, anticipation, speculation and projection about this and that, which don’t exist at all. The present moment is the only existence. And this existence is subject to impermanent changes. Due to ignorance, the mind mistaken this phenomenal of impermanence as the existence of “time”.
All judgments about what is good and bad, positive and negative, happiness and unhappiness, right and wrong, are subjectively coming from the egoistic mind based on the thinking and beliefs in the mind about what things are. It is not the truth of what things really are.
Just like when we perform the yoga asana poses during our yoga asana practice, when our body can do certain yoga poses, our egoistic mind will judge “It’s easy.” When our body cannot do certain yoga poses, our egoistic mind will judge “It’s difficult.” But the yoga asana poses themselves are not easy nor difficult. They are just being what they are. They have no intention nor quality to be something easy or difficult, or to be something good or bad, comfortable or uncomfortable. It is just the personal reactions coming from the body and the mind towards the yoga poses, and generate judgment and comparison of different qualities based on how the egoistic mind perceives and reacts towards the yoga poses subjectively.
While learning and performing the yoga asana poses, the mind is being trained to let go of egoism, let go of the identification with the impermanent condition and abilities of the body, let go of the reactions coming from the ego of craving and aversion towards the different postures and practice, as well as let go of expectation towards the results or the effects of the postures or practice.
The yoga practice is being performed out of compassion, without intention to be attaining something in return, nor expectation towards the fruit of actions to be the way that we like it to be, but allowing the fruit of actions to be what it is. Without egoistic craving and aversion influencing the yoga practice. Without judgment or comparison towards the yoga practice and towards our performance, or the physical condition and abilities to perform the yoga practice.
All these observations will help to starve and eliminate the egoism from the mind. It doesn’t matter how long does it takes to eradicated egoism, attachment, ignorance and impurities from the mind, just keep practice, without judgment, comparison or expectation.
Everyone and everything (whether “good” or “bad”) is the teacher to be here to help us to see the ego and the reactions of the ego, and to let go of the egoism.
Sometimes even though we know the cause of unhappiness, but due to weak will power, the mind is over-powered by intense attachment of craving and aversion towards the qualities of names and forms, and be over-powered by the egoism and the impurities that accompany the reactions of the egoism towards the qualities of names and forms that it likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want. If we can free the mind from the influence of the egoism by letting go of attachment of craving and aversion towards the qualities of names and forms that based on what the ego likes and dislikes, wants and doesn’t want, then the mind will appear as it is, it is neither pure nor impure, neither happy nor unhappy, neither peaceful nor unpeaceful, neither satisfied nor dissatisfied.
The mind is just being what it is, it’s nature is identical with the attributeless universal consciousness, that is uncontaminated by the activities or impurities that are projected in the mind. It is neither good nor bad. Neither positive nor negative. Neither enjoying nor suffering. Neither pure nor impure. It is the impurities that arise in the mind due to the reactions of the ego towards what it likes and dislikes, what it agrees and disagrees with, what it wants and doesn’t want, that makes the mind appears to be pure or impure, happy or unhappy, peaceful or unpeaceful, satisfied or dissatisfied.
Develop magnanimity, forgiveness, kind and loving thoughts, and let go of animosity, anger, hatred, ill-will or ill thinking. Instead of cursing those whom we think and believe as “bad and evil” to be condemned to hell, or to suffer for their “bad and evil” behavior, we wish them be free from ignorance, and realize wisdom and compassion, peace and happiness.
Why do we want to be unhappy and generate some “bad and evil” thoughts, action and speech, as the result of being affected, or disturbed, or influenced, or determined by other people’s behavior that we don’t like or disagree with, that we think and believe as “bad and evil” or “wrong”, when ourselves didn’t do anything “bad and evil” or “wrong”?
Best of luck in your practice towards eradication of the cause of unhappiness. May you get all the helps and guidance that you need along the path of unconditional love and peace.