It’s the Buddhist way.
Published: July 1, 2012
by Dalai Lama
Our thoughts and behavior make our happiness.
Someone who has no knowledge at all about the Buddha’s teachings might be full of disturbing emotions, but he might feel that these are just the daily habits of the mind and take them for granted. If we speak to him about removing these negativities, he might just ignore it or accept anger, attachment, and so forth as part of life. There are definitely disadvantages to such a course, because when our minds are clouded by disturbing emotions, even if we have wealth, friends, and everything we desire, we may not be able to experience happiness. On the other hand, if we reduce and remove disturbing emotions and generate the positive qualities explained in the teaching, we will get real mental determination and courage.
When we are afflicted by disturbing emotions like anger and attachment, we suffer fear, low self-esteem, depression, and so forth. Therefore, it is important to reduce the negative aspects of the mind and increase its positive aspects. Then we will really start to experience happiness. Of course, external material facilities are a cause and condition for happiness, but they are not the ultimate source. The ultimate source of happiness is within our mind.
Buddhism is a teaching which is very much related to human behavior, and it is divided into philosophy, or view, and conduct. The conduct is not to harm other sentient beings. That is the behavior of a Buddhist. The philosophy is that your own happiness is related to other people. Therefore, cherish other people, do not harm them; as a result you will have happiness. If, on the other hand, you ignore and neglect the welfare of other people, you will not have happiness, because your happiness and suffering do not occur in isolation. If there is happiness and peace in society, in your neighborhood, in the whole world, then we will all have happiness. This is dependent arising, the theory of relativity.
Buddhism does not teach about a creator, nor does it say that things arise without causes and conditions. If you deceive other people for your happiness, it is a foolish way of trying to achieve happiness. Usually, when there is an opportunity, we bully other people. When we are able to deceive someone, we do it without hesitation. And if we are unable to do anything else, we start criticizing or narrating someone’s negative qualities to create enmity between other people. Then, when we encounter a problem and seek those people’s help, they simply laugh at us.
If, from the outset, you behave as if you are related to your friends, neighbors, and people living around you, when you are faced with some problem, your neighbors will all help without being asked. We are social animals. We definitely have to depend upon each other. This theory of relativity and dependent arising is the Buddhist philosophy. All conditioned phenomena arise in dependence on causes and conditions. Therefore, our happiness and suffering also arise due to causes and conditions. In short, the Buddha advised: if possible, benefit other people, if you are unable to benefit other people at least refrain from harming them.
Tenzin Gyatso is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and as the world’s most famous Buddhist monk.