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Happiness in the New Year :: Advice from the Dalai Lama


music by Andy O

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Push play, and let the music literally or metaphorically move you while you contemplate the next year of your life.

How do you envision the upcoming year? How do you want it to pan out? As you consider it all, I suggest first taking the time to acknowledge the events of the past 12 months and using your experience as the basis of your plans for 2011.

The Dalai Lama writes that happiness is attainable via changes that are actually fairly straightforward. The following is a summary of his approach, adapted from this source.

In Buddhism causality is accepted as natural law. Therefore, if there are certain types of events that you do not desire, then the best way of safeguarding against those events taking place is to make sure that the causal conditions that normally give rise to those events don’t arise. Similarly, if there’s an event that you would like to take place, then you should seek the causes and conditions that give rise to that event.

This same principle of causality can be applied to your mental states. If you desire happiness, you should identify those factors which lead to happiness and those factors which lead to suffering. Having done this, you can gradually eliminate those factors which lead to suffering from your life and cultivate those which lead to happiness. That is, one achieves happiness through learning which mental states to cultivate and which to eliminate, and then making a sustained effort to implement this knowledge.

Positive states of mind can act as direct antidotes to negative states of mind.

Working on our mental outlook is a more effective means of achieving happiness than seeking it through external sources, such as wealth or position. This approach of focusing on your mental outlook places the secret to happiness within your own hands, instead of leaving it at the mercy of external factors, most of which are not within your control.

The Dalai Lama summarizes his point as follows: “As long as there is a lack of the inner discipline that brings calmness of mind, no matter what external facilities or conditions you have, they will never give you the feeling of joy and happiness that you are seeking. On the other hand, if you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.”

Happy New Year from TOE.

December 31, 2010 1:13 pm

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