How do I become happy ? - by Shin Yatomi
How do I become happy ?
If you lived in a palace where you could enjoy everything - beauty, health, money and power - would you consider leaving behind such a 'happy' life? I probably would not.
But one man did more than two millennia ago in his quest for genuine happiness. Shakyamuni's story still encourages millions around the globe to seek the meaning of suffering beyond pain and the meaning of happiness beyond pleasure.
Shakyamuni's quest for genuine happiness paved the way for Nichiren Daishonin to reveal the essential law of life as Nam-myoho-renge-kyo. Based on this truth, Nichiren Buddhism explains some key attitudes for building true happiness. The following five points - though by no means complete - provide us with an outline from which each person may begin painting a clearer picture of authentic happiness.
The First Key: Happiness begins with a vow.
Do you have a despotic boss who is unhappy no matter what you do? The reason why most tyrants are unhappy is that they are waiting for someone else to please them while they themselves do nothing but make demands. Happiness served on a silver platter turns sour after a few bites. Nichiren Buddhism explains that we begin and continue the quest for happiness of oneself and others by making a personal vow and renewing it every day. Each person must create his or her own happiness. Waiting for happiness is a formula for unhappiness. Happiness is born of action.
The Second Key: Happiness is overcoming unhappiness.
Happiness is not an absence of problems, and the presence of problems does not mean unhappiness. Nichiren Buddhism explains that genuine happiness lies in overcoming difficulties. The important thing is to learn how to face our problems, not how to avoid them. Through the practice of Nichiren Buddhism, we can transform meaningless sufferings into meaningful challenges.
The Third Key: The solution to your problem lies within.
It is always tempting to blame our environment for our suffering through our delusions and that we can overcome our suffering by manifesting our innate Buddha nature. It is a common myth that we will become happy when we acquire pleasurable things or meet someone wonderful. But the truth is that when we are happy, we can truly enjoy the niceties of life or good companionship. This is a Copernican change in our view of happiness. Put simply, we are the cause and the solution to our problems, and genuine happiness must be created from within. To realize this is to free ourselves from being a victim of circumstances. Being a victim is easy, but it doesn't make us happy.
The Fourth Key: Don't compare yourself with others.
We are trained by society to compare ourselves with others, to see our lives through the eyes of others. Over the years, we've learned to feel superior to the less fortunate and disparage ourselves when we are with the more fortunate - restlessly vacillating between arrogance and self-disparagement depending on our circumstances. Nichiren Buddhism, however, teaches us how to build a stronger self that need not seek the reference of its worth outside. Nichiren Buddhism encourages us to bring forth our unique quality that cannot be compared with anything else. Each person has a unique set of karmic circumstances and - by challenging them - can make unique contributions to the world. Our karmic suffering can be transformed into our precious mission in life. With this awareness, we can change arrogance into appreciation, self-disparagement into true confidence.
The Fifth Key: Be in the here and now.
We sometimes dwell in resentment and regret about our past: 'Because that horrible thing happened to me, I cannot be happy.' At other times, we are preoccupied with worries about our future: 'What if my relationship doesn't work out?' Nichiren Buddhism teaches that the present moment contains all the past and the future. In other words, by challenging our present state of existence, we can transform resentment and regret into appreciation for our past. Of course, we cannot undo our past, but - by developing a strong state of life Now - we can change the meaning our past holds for us and change worries into hopes.
Nichiren Buddhism also teaches that we cannot create happiness simply by moving from one place to another. What's most important is to change our inner state of being where we are. Put simply, Nichiren Buddhism shows us how to create happiness in the past (appreciation), in the present (fulfillment) and in the future (hope) by challenging our lives in the here and now.
by Shin Yatomi