By Ven. Dr. K Sri Dhammananda

Remember there are four kinds of happiness:

  1. Happiness of Possession – In owning your own property, house, land, business, bank account.

  2. Happiness of Enjoyment – Using what you have earned (which) you can enjoy good food, nice house, (comfortable clothing)  without abusing, bluffing and cheating others.

  3. Happiness of Debtlessness – Try best not to borrow from others. By spending within your own means, you gain self respect.

  4. Happiness of Blamelessness – Try to lead life without bringing harm to anyone.

(You must constantly cultivate) these four kinds of happiness. (Never) be lazy, do some (productive) work, do not neglect what you have earned. Maintain and protect what you have earned.

Later on, you can then decide upon adopting a Buddhist way of life, right up to becoming an Arahant. (But first, you have to) know how to adjust your way of life and how to associate with others. Who are (these others)?

Associate with good people, not harmful, wicked people. Support your father and mother and look after your wife and children. Don’t neglect relatives, help them (when needful). Develop your mind to the extent that you are not shaken by the eight winds of change – praise and blame, fame and shame, gain and loss, pleasure and pain and treat all the same. (If you do this well) at this stage nothing will affect you.

All meetings end in partings,
That which rises must fall,
That which is collected will be dispersed,
Birth ends with death

Edited by Ang Choo Hong

The world around us is far more complex than we can possibly imagine. With our limited senses and consciousness, we only glimpse a small portion of reality. Furthermore, everything in the universe is in a state of constant flux. Simple words and thoughts cannot capture this flux or complexity. The only solution for an enlightened person is to let the mind absorb itself in what it experiences, without having to form a judgement of what it all means. The mind must be able to feel doubt and uncertainty for as long as possible. As it remains in the state and probes deeply into the mysteries of the universe, ideas will come that are more dimensional and real than if we had jumped to conclusions and formed judgments early on.

To accomplish this, we must be capable of negating our ego. We are by nature fearful and insecure creatures. We do not like what is unfamiliar or unknown. To compensate for this, we assert ourselves with opinions and ideas that make us seem strong and certain. Many of these opinions do not come from our own deep reflection, but are instead based on what other people think. Furthermore, once we hold these ideas, to admit they are wrong is to wound our ego and vanity. Truly creative people in all fields can temporarily suspend their ego and simply experience what they are seeing, without the need to assert a judgement, for as long as possible. They are more than ready to find their most cherished opinions contradicted by reality.

John Keats’ letter to his brother, 1871.