5 Feb
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What Kind of Happiness?

singing_in_the_rainIn Dancing with Life, Phillip Moffitt writes about the difference between:
(1) Happiness that arises when things are going the way you want them to
(2) Happiness that comes when your mind is joyful and at ease, no matter what’s going on
(3) The unbounded joy you feel when your mind has ceased all clinging

“It is easy to recognize the first kind of happiness; you know full well how much you like it when conditions in your life are just as you wish them to be….

“The second kind of happiness is experienced on those occasions when you are temporarily in such a good mood, or so centered, or so quiet, or so appreciative that when you encounter an unpleasant person at work or a frustrating situation at home, you aren’t overwhelmed. Life isn’t the way you would prefer it to be, but you feel just fine right now and you are not being defined by unpleasant conditions… I characterize this second kind of happiness as being centered in a state of mind that is happy….”

Of course both these kinds of happiness are temporary. Which is why we often feel stress and discomfort, even when things are going our way. But there’s a 3rd kind of happiness, which is the ultimate aim of our practice.

Phillip writes, “The well-being that arises when you begin going through the various stages of nibbana is not subject to conditions or to the state of your mind. You can be having a lousy time and your mind not be in an exalted state, yet the mind is unruffled. This is a mind that is liberated. There is nothing temporary about it. This third kind of well-being is independent of any external or internal factors…

“The esteemed Thai Buddhist teacher Ajahn Jumnian refers to this state as ‘happy happy.’ Such a moment of well-being gives you the sense of what is possible and provides faith and inspiration for your practice. Sometimes it can happen to you on a long meditation retreat, or it can follow a life-threatening illness, accident, or a near-death experience in your life, or it can arise out of a spontaneous full relaxation into the ‘sacred now’, without your having a clue as to why it occurred. 

“The common factor in moments of realized well-being is a surrender of the ego into being present with what is without resistance, followed by a shift in perception that is too mysterious to describe. The result is a sense of well-being that is incomparable, unsurpassable, and far beyond anything else you have known.” 

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