understand the nature of suffering and happiness based on Buddhist philosophy.
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Wisdom Light Series
Are You Ready for Happiness?
Don’t Let the Paper Tiger Scare You Off
KHENPO TSULTRIM LODRO
Translated by Lorraine Wu Chen
With Forewords by
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
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National Central Library Catalogue-in-Publication Data
Tsultrim Lodro, Khenpo
Are You Ready for Happiness? - First Edition
eBook by ePubMATIC.com
Not for Sale
Foreword by Sogyal Rinpoche
Foreword by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
A Note About the Author
The Tibetan Buddhist View on Happiness
The Significance of Buddhist Philosophy Today
Suffering is just a Paper Tiger
How to Face Suffering and Happiness
Spiritual Equipment for Modern Times
Buddhism and the Business World—Six Standards in a Corporate Culture
Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö is one of the most important Tibetan Buddhist masters alivo today. As demonstrated by his many writings, he is not only exceptionally learned in the traditional Buddhist teachings, but is also deeply familiar with science, western philosophy and the modern world. Here in this short text, drawn from a series of lectures, he encourages us to remember the Buddha’s fundamental message on the real meaning and purpose of life: the cultivation of genuine wisdom and compassion. I am a deep admirer of Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö and supporter of his work.
I would like to thank the directors not only for creating this opportunity to honour Khen Rinpoche, but also for giving me the chance to write a few introductory words for this auspicious occasion.
Actually I am not the right person to do this. First, Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche needs no introduction. He speaks for himself by his example. Even if you need someone to give an introduction, it should not be done by someone shady like me who eats betel nut and is found wearing very colorful clothes, and hanging around with colorful people in colorful places.
Nevertheless, I have requested to do this, because I do have something I want to say. In this degenerate time, the glory of the Buddha is dim. The weight of the Dharma is not felt. I know that the Buddha said one should not depend on the person but on the truth. But the actual realization of the Dharma is extremely rare for most of us. The words of the Dharma are too vast and deep, and most of us are too lazy to pursue them, let alone to comprehend them. So even though we know we should not rely on a person, we human beings have the habit of looking up to something tangible in human form as a role model.
So teachers, masters, and spiritual leaders are very important. And we have no shortage of such teachers, masters, and lamas today. In fact we have far more of them than used T-shirts. This is an age when even teenagers have the name His Holiness. But genuine upholders of the Dharma are as rare as stars in the daylight, and the few that we have are hardly shining.
As the Buddha said, only an enlightened being can judge whether another person is enlightened or not. So I cannot really say who is a perfect being and who is not. But at least, even in this age, we do still have interest in Dharma practice, and so naturally the expounder of the Dharma becomes important.
Even though, as I said, my lifestyle is colorful and I cannot make judgements on others, there is probably one good thing about which I can boast — that at least I do know that I should worry about the survival of the Dharma. And there is good reason to be concerned, good reason to be worried. In fact we should be panicked.
That I have this deep concern, of course, is solely the blessing of my own masters, who themselves spent so much time and energy worrying about the survival of the Dharma. Through their blessing and guidance, I have learned not to just worry about the Dharma in my own backyard — Tibetan Buddhism — but I have learned to worry about Shingon Buddhism in Japan, Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka, and more. My worry may not be constant, but at least at times, I do worry.
I also worry that there are not many who worry. Even the aging lamas with gray hair and wrinkled skin don’t seem to worry. Well, they may worry somewhat, but generally only in relation to their own temples, or at best, to their own lineage.
So this is why I want to express that it gives me so much hope just knowing that Khen Rinpoche exists on this earth, because his actions have spoken louder than his words. And please make a really big note about this because, even though I have no pure perception, and am very critical and arrogant, I want to say that I have been observing Khen Rinpoche closely.
I have not received any teaching from Khen Rinpoche. I did try to listen to some recordings, though I gave up because his dialect is too strong for me, and I have flipped through some of his books. But these are not the real reasons for my respect. I feel that Khen Rinpoche is not just a teacher, but he is actually a model. As we know, every teacher needs a teacher for himself. And Khen Rinpoche was groomed for many years by one of the greatest beings, Jigme Phunstok Rinpoche, and he manifests that extraordinary tutelage today in his work and in his life.
As many of you know, Khen Rinpoche is also the administrative Khenpo of one of the most important seats, Serthar Larung. And here my impression of Serthar Larung has nothing to do with there being so many monks and nuns. Rather, I have observed what they do and what they have achieved. I have also observed how they spend their money and where they spend their money. And I have observed whether this institute is only producing empty-headed scholars or whether it has genuinely practising practitioners. In all these dimensions, Serthar Larung excels.
I also want to note that the Khenpo in front of us is not the son of some rich, high, prestigious family. He is not the cousin or brother of some very important lama, and he doesn’t have HH in front of his name. Who he is and what he has accomplished is through his own merit and genuine dedication and practice, and this is inspiring for so many practitioners.
I especially want to single out how precious it is for the Chinese-speaking world, including Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, that Khen Rinpoche speaks your language. Even though Buddhism is growing in the West, in my lifetime I don’t see the Buddhadharma being adopted and practised by a sizeable percentage of Americans and Europeans. And we know that the Buddhadharma is far from flourishing in the very birthplace of Buddhism, in India. By contrast, Buddhism has contributed so much to Chinese civilization in the past and has a major resurgent role to play in Chinese society today. So for the Chinese-speaking world, it is such a priceless opportunity for you to have a direct link with Rinpoche.
For all these reasons and more, I want to request Rinpoche to take care of himself and to live long and to eat less butter.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
This is the transcription of Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche’s introductory speech at the public talk given by Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro in Taipei, Taiwan on January 22, 2015.
Khenpo Tsultrim Lodrö was born in 1962 in Drango (Luhuo) County in Sichuan Province’s Garze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. In 1984, he received monastic ordination at the world-renowned Larung Five Sciences Buddhist Institute (Larung Gar) in Serthar, becoming a disciple of the preeminent spiritual master, H.H. Chogyel Yeshe Norbu Jigme Phunstok. After many years dedicated to the study of the five main sutric treatises and tantric scripture, he was awarded the title of Khenpo in recognition of his scholarship.
For more than twenty years, Khenpo has overseen monastic education at Larung Gar, producing successive generations of accomplished students. During the 1990s, he gave a series of dharma teachings in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Over the past decade, Khenpo has concentrated efforts in Tibetan areas, promoting environmental awareness, education, vegetarianism, and the importance of protecting living beings and abstaining from taking life. At the same time, he has sought to deepen the broader Tibetan community’s understanding of basic dharma, and to this end has traveled widely giving teachings to lay audiences. Placing great importance on the promotion of Tibetan culture, Khenpo has founded libraries and schools. Notably, he has also coordinated a team of language specialists and scholars representing all Tibetan regions to collaborate on the compilation of a tri-lingual (Tibetan-Chinese-English) dictionary of new vocabulary terms.
Two volumes have been published in the past five years:
Chinese-Tibetan-English Illustrated Dictionary of New Daily Vocabulary
Chinese-Tibetan-English Dictionary of New Daily Vocabulary
Over the last ten years, Khenpo has been committed to deepening his understanding of western science and philosophy, and is utilizing contemporary methods to disseminate Buddhist culture. Khenpo has published extensively on Buddhism in Tibetan, Chinese and English languages. His Tibetan publications include four volumes of collected writings; his Chinese monographs include the Wisdom Light Series, Stories of Transmigration, Buddhism: Superstition or Wisdom?, The Heart Sutra and Quantum Physics, The Secret Code for Unlocking Tibetan Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism: Lifting the Veil of Mystery and Comprehending the Book Called Life; translated English publications include Daily Inspiration from Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro, The Right View and Are You Ready for Happiness?
I first came upon the teachings of Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche early in 2014. I remember being surprised by the number of people who informed me of his visit to Taiwan and told me to catch his lectures. As a student of Tibetan Buddhism for more than twenty years, I am accustomed to hearing the teachings in Tibetan or English which is then translated into Chinese. I did not expect a Tibetan Buddhist master to speak to us directly in Chinese. Undoubtedly, this made a difference in terms of the clarity and completeness of the lectures in the time allowed. Most of all, however, I was impressed by the strong sense of purpose and urgency in which he communicated the timeless wisdom of the Dharma. When I was approached in regard to translating one of his books, I was quick to accept the challenge.
Khenpo Tsultrim Lodro Rinpoche personifies the spirit of bodhicitta which is essential to all practitioners on the Mahayana Buddhist path. While he encourages followers to engage in spiritual practice and to look inward to discover their basic wisdom and compassion, his teachings are very practical and call for a balance in spiritual life and everyday life. This book is a compilation of many lectures. It examines the fundamental nature of happiness and suffering and how we can transform both into the path. We need the Dharma to help us through difficult times, but it is just as important for us to apply the teachings in good times. The key concepts and methods in Buddhism are introduced in the text; some themes are repeated in multiple places; all are directed at helping us find genuine happiness and meaning in life.
I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to translate this book. I hope the translation is faithful to the spirit and meaning of the teachings and is easy to read. A special thanks to Angela Liu for her valuable comments and substantial in this effort. It is my sincere hope anyone interested in the spiritual path can derive benefit from reading this English edition.
Lorraine Wu Chen
Buddhism, certainly Tibetan Buddhism, places great importance on happiness. However, the emphasis in Mahayana Buddhism is not on one’s own happiness; it is the welfare of all sentient beings which is important. When we strive to bring joy to all beings, we can be sure of attaining even greater happiness for ourselves. This well — being ultimately surpasses any that material enjoyment can bring. Such is the Tibetan Buddhist view on happiness.
Since ancient times, the one thing human beings have always longed for is happiness. Yet, with all the progress in society, what we believe to be happiness has eluded us. The rapid decline in the index on global well-being has compelled all of us to rethink: What is happiness? How do we find it? In recent years, this topic has generated even greater interest.
Perhaps there are some methods in Buddhism. These methods might not work for everyone since we each have individual needs — in Buddhist terms, this is to say no one method can suit everyone since we each have karmic dispositions that are vastly different. However, for those who have the inclination, the methods can guide us in finding happiness in everyday life and at work, and in leading a fuller and more meaningful life.
Buddhism, certainly Tibetan Buddhism, places great importance on happiness. The emphasis in Mahayana Buddhism is not on one’s own happiness but rather that of all sentient beings. When we strive for the welfare of all beings, we can at the same time attain even greater happiness for ourselves. This well-being ultimately surpasses any that material enjoyment can bring. Such is the Tibetan Buddhist view on happiness.
In whatever work or research we engage in, we must begin by understanding its basic nature. Thus, let us first establish — what is happiness? What is the nature of happiness?
A Chinese book titled What is Happiness addresses this question from the viewpoint of 155 experts from around the world. For instance, happiness is having a stable income; happiness is harmony in the family; happiness is travelling around the world; happiness is just a glass of water, etc. There is no consensus.
Buddhism believes the nature of happiness is neither a steady income nor harmony in the family, neither the joy of seeing the world nor a glass of water. Although all may bring a sense of well-being, they are not the nature of happiness.
The true nature of happiness is a special feeling from within. Sometimes this feeling is related to material matter; other times there is no connection at all. Material matter is only one cause or condition which creates a feeling of well-being. It can bring about a temporary sense of security or satisfaction, from which one can in turn derive temporary happiness. The different forms of happiness, such as a steady income, are sources of happiness but are not happiness itself.
If happiness is a feeling, what is the basis of this feeling? A feeling of happiness comes from satisfaction; a feeling of satisfaction comes mostly from a new and fresh sensation. These types of feeling are all related to our mind and have no direct connection with the material world.
We can break down happiness into endless types. To simplify, however, there are essentially two kinds: one is happiness derived from worldly things; the other is happiness which does not come from worldly things. Within the second kind, one type is a feeling of great happiness over and above general well-being. This feeling is experienced during the course of serving or benefiting other sentient beings — a pursuit also shared by the bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism.
Some people believe Buddhism opposes all forms of material enjoyment, enforces complete control over desire, and promotes ascetic practice. Actually, this is a misunderstanding. The Buddha said followers have the right to enjoy, not reject, what they are entitled to — wealth which is properly acquired or blessings accumulated during a past life from virtuous activity. The Buddha did not deny, to a certain extent, material goods can bring happiness. However, he made it clear not all happiness comes from material goods. He also said the happiness derived from material things is very short-lived and unreliable.
Many psychologists understand, to varying degree, the workings of the mind; philosophers also examine happiness from a different perspective. Nevertheless, I think, among all the religions and academic disciplines, it is Buddhism that has the most complete view on this subject. The study of the mind in Buddhism is extremely sophisticated. How the mind functions is very clearly elucidated by the Buddha in the sutras.
In Buddhism, we are known as ordinary people if we have never received any training of the mind. From the standpoint of the mind, it does not matter how wealthy, socially prominent, or knowledgeable we are; without mind practice, we are still ordinary people. This term is not meant to be disparaging; it simply denotes a person who lacks spiritual training.
For ordinary people, the mind follows a natural pattern. This pattern always takes the same direction. To start with, material things can bring us a feeling of happiness. This feeling of happiness is based on a sense of satisfaction; in turn this sense of satisfaction comes from having a new or fresh experience. When we examine the feeling of happiness, we see that all things lose their luster once the novelty wears off. Being new and fresh is not a quality that can last forever; it is only a matter of time before it dissipates. When the new sensation disappears, the feeling of satisfaction loses its base and disappears with it. The feeling of happiness then disappears as well.
As human beings, we think material things are what we spend a lifetime pursuing; actually, we are only chasing after a feeling. The Buddha pointed to this important distinction, but we have yet to recognize or discover it.
The Buddha said: we can seek happiness — that is our right; however, the happiness derived from material things cannot be relied on. Thus, when we pursue worldly pleasures, we should concurrently look for even greater happiness — the kind that comes from the spirit, or from undertaking work which is noble and meaningful.
Darrin M. McMahon, an American professor, spent six years researching the history and livelihood of mankind, and completed a book titled Happiness: A History. He concludes at the end of the book that happiness may only exist in our imagination: we can pursue happiness, but it only lives in our imagination; we can think of happiness as an ideal to follow, but it may never be attained.
I think this conclusion is overly pessimistic because it is based on incorrect methods. If our methods are correct, we can find happiness in this life. The question is how we look for them. If the methods are incorrect, we may not be able to attain happiness however hard we try.
What then are the right methods?
There are essentially five methods to happiness, the three “No’s” and two “Should’s.”
The Three “No’s”:
First, do not compare. The more we like to compare with others, the less likely we are to find happiness. Take as an example a person who owns a high-performance luxury car; if he likes to compare, he is sure to find someone in his circle of friends who has a better car. As in the saying “there is always a better man, a higher mountain,” even if the person excels in everything now, there is no guarantee he won’t be surpassed in a year or two. If he chooses to compete again at that time, he will find himself in a very tiresome chase. To compare is not necessary in life, but it is often the cause of great suffering.
Second, do not be vain. The more we indulge in vanity, the more likely we are to feel empty and worthless. At the end of the vicious cycle, we can only fill our emptiness with more vanity. This feeling is one of immeasurable suffering. A lot of very wealthy people find that they would rather die than live because they feel empty inside; their wealth cannot be counted on in any way to bring happiness.
Many people think wealth is the answer to happiness. However, after acquiring wealth, they often do not experience the happiness they imagine. In the period from the 1950’s up to the year 2000, income in the West increased threefold, but people’s well-being actually declined. A lot of psychologists, sociologists, and economists have studied this phenomenon over a half century and have concluded: when our annual income is around forty thousand US dollars, money brings a sense of security, which in turn leads to sense of well-being; when annual income exceeds this amount, there is no longer a connection between money and happiness. Thus, having more wealth is no guarantee of happiness.
For example, there is a psychological condition called compulsive buying disorder. When people become depressed, they develop an obsession with buying to make up for the emptiness they feel. In the end, however, they no longer derive the same satisfaction that came with earlier purchases, and their suffering resumes.
Consequently, a lot of values accumulated over time have come under question. People have started to rethink what happiness is and how a new kind of happiness can be attained.
Third, do not be too greedy. Most people have a misunderstanding about Buddhism and assume that Buddhism refutes all forms of desire and physical pleasures. This is not the case. The Buddha also acknowledged that, to a certain extent, desire is a driving force. For instance, the fervent wish to study the Buddhist teachings, to become Buddha, and to benefit sentient beings all constitute desire. Without this desire, one would lose the impetus to study the teachings. Thus, on the whole, the Buddha did not oppose desire. The Buddha said: ordinary people cannot do or survive without desire; they drink when they are thirsty and eat when they are hungry. However, when desire becomes excessive, it leads to consequences we do not wish to see — suffering, disappointment, hopelessness, etc.
We can ask ourselves: How do I find happiness? What is it that I would have to lose to be unhappy? If we contemplate in this way, we will find the answer — desire, if left unchecked, is boundless. Excessive desire ultimately drowns us and leads to a state of great suffering.
The happiness that material enjoyment brings is limited. Yet what we want is unlimited. How is it possible to fill an infinite space with something which has a limit? Certainly not in this lifetime! Our lifespan is no more than several decades, but even if we lived billions of years, we would still fall short of satisfying ever-growing greed. In fact, the longer we live, the greater our desire and the suffering that follows. Thus, the Buddha admonished us to keep our desire in check in order to gain true happiness; if we are always chasing after material things, we will never find real happiness.
To cut off desire completely, we have to rely on Buddhist practice. When we attain Buddhahood, there is no more desire. The Buddha’s compassion and infinite wisdom has already replaced all worldly desires. But before attaining Buddhahood, ordinary people still crave for things. In our practice, we must be sure to avoid the two extreme paths. One extreme is to cut off all material desires. A number of ancient religions in India place great emphasis on ascetic practice — denial of food for a long period of time, no clothing or speech, even cruel punishment to one’s body. The Buddha did not approve of these practices and in fact considered the methods, to a certain extent, to be harmful to one’s well-being. The other extreme is to give in to all our desires. We spend a lifetime working hard to fill our needs, but are still dissatisfied when it is time to leave the world. In the end, it is only resentment and anger that we bring with us. That would hardly be worth it.
The Two “Should’s”:
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