Author Topic: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness  (Read 7226 times)

bambi

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What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« on: February 20, 2014, 02:22:09 PM »
                                         

How wonderful that there is a post on how Tibetan Buddhism can teach happiness. Well, I believe that all Buddha's teachings teach us how to be happy but its how we apply what we understand to our daily life.

One of the most geographically isolated cultures in the world may contain the secrets to happiness that the rest of us have been looking for. Perhaps in part because of the country's remote location, the Tibetans have become the guardians of a deep, well-preserved wisdom tradition that modern science is only now catching up to.

But with the "mindful revolution" spreading in the West and a growing amount of research funding being dedicated to the study of contemplative practices and the science of compassion and altruism, the secrets of this ancient tradition are finally being recognized globally.

"Tibet has probably the greatest treasure trove of ancient contemplative knowledge, science and wisdom about how to influence the mind from the inside out," Joe Loizzo, founder of the Nalanda Institute for Contemplative Science, told The Huffington Post. "The Tibetans have an unbroken lineage of oral knowledge and technical expertise ... both in medicine and in psychology."

Early Indic cultures developed public systems of training in mindfulness -- including the Hatha Yoga tradition and Tibetan Buddhist mind training -- to ensure that the skills of contemplation and positivity were taught to everyone, explains Loizzo.

A Harvard-trained psychiatrist and a Columbia-trained Buddhist scholar, Loizzo has spent his career merging "the scientific and the spiritual," bringing ancient teachings on contemplative practice to modern Western psychotherapy and preventive medicine.

"There's a growing understanding that we need to move back in the direction of the contemplative traditions -- the ancient wisdom that says slow down, pay attention, be kind, be at peace -- whereas our modern wisdom has said that we need to just push forward and move into the future. We're realizing that's not sustainable for us either as a civilization or for our individual minds and brains. It's wearing and tearing us down just like it's wearing and tearing the planet down."

Loizzo spent years studying with Tibetan teachers in exile in India and in the West, and is convinced that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition -- which emphasizes training in mindful awareness and compassion -- has something to teach us all about how to live better lives.

Here are four essential lessons from Tibetan Buddhism that can help in your own pursuit of happiness.

Get intimate with your own mind.

We need two main things to become happy, according to the Tibetan Buddhist tradition: mindful awareness and loving compassion. The theory goes that the combination of attention and loving-kindness -- both of which can be built through contemplative practices like meditation -- can help bring the brain into its most plastic, growth-oriented state and support the development of a greater state of consciousness, Loizzo says.

Meditation -- "the quiet, humble work it takes on a daily basis," as Loizzo puts it -- is the cornerstone of the Tibetan contemplative science. Through a meditation practice, we can begin to overcome negative thoughts and habitual emotional responese, and start to live from a more calm, centered place, he says.

“Above all, be at ease, be as natural and spacious as possible. Slip quietly out of the noose of your habitual anxious self, release all grasping, and relax into your true nature," Sogyal Rinpoche advised in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, a guide to meditation and Tibetan Buddhist philosophy. "Think of your ordinary emotional, thought-ridden self as a block of ice or a slab of butter left out in the sun. If you are feeling hard and cold, let this aggression melt away in the sunlight of your meditation."

The research is now there to back up the benefits of this time-worn strategy for stabilizing emotions and boosting the brain's capacity for joy. Studies have shown meditation may be effective in reducing anxiety and depression, lowering stress levels, reducing loneliness and boosting emotional well-being.

"Twenty years and a thousand stories that have given me an unshakable confidence in the truly boundless potential we human beings have to heal ourselves and transform our lives," Loizzo wrote in his 2012 book, Sustainable Happiness.

Practice compassion, at every moment.

Most Eastern spiritual traditions involve some form of practice around compassion, or "loving-kindness." In Buddhism, there is a meditation for loving-kindness,“metta bhavana”, which involves sending kindness to yourself, loved ones, community members, people you may dislike, and eventually, all beings. In the Tibetan tradition, monks practice tonglen, which consists of breathing in suffering and breathing out happiness, so as to reduce pain and spread peace among all beings.

"What's unusual about the Tibetans is that they have what I call an industrial-strength version of this discipline," Loizzo says of loving-kindness practice. "These practices allow us to turn our sense of life as a battle, a struggle for survival against everybody else, into a communal experience of connecting with friends and the larger world. That, we've learned, is so important to our quality of life and our personal sense of meaning in life."

The Tibetans have devised powerful ways of helping people learn how to become more compassionate that are now being used in the Western world. A 2012 Emory University study suggested that compassion training derived from ancient Tibetan practices may boost empathy, and other studies have shown that loving-kindness meditation could increase positive emotions and lead to more positive relationships over time.

Connect with others who support your journey.

The traditional "Three Jewels" of Buddhism consist of the Buddha (the example), the Dharma (the path) and the Sangha (the community). In this tradition, the community is just as important an element as any other in living a happy, purposeful life. Increasing your happiness and well-being is a difficult thing to do alone. It requires the support and love of others, and a sense of belonging to a community.

"Modern neuroscience is showing us that we're really wired to be extremely social creatures," Loizzo says. "We're happier and healthier when we do that in a committed way ... We need to learn to connect with others with mindful openness and positivity, and to deal with the daily slings and arrows and work through those and maintain a sense of connection that's positive. This is something we practice in spiritual communities."

Strong social support networks have also been linked to a number of health benefits, including lower stress levels and increased longevity.

Embrace death -- don't fear it.

In Western cultures, our attitude toward death is largely characterized by fear and denial -- and this can, consciously or unconsciously, cause a great deal of suffering throughout our lives. But a central aspect of the Tibetan Buddhist philosophy is the belief that death should be embraced, and the concept that dying can be the "crowing achievement" of a life well lived. Although this attitude stems in part from a strong belief in reincarnation, you don't have to believe in an afterlife in order to better accept the impermanence of life in the here and now. The Tibetans believe that meditation can help us to come to terms with the nature of life and death.

When Loizzo is working with patients who are suffering from chronic or terminal illnesses, in addition to practicing meditation and loving-kindness, he goes through a traditionally Tibetan practice of asking some of life's big questions: What has been meaningful to you in your life? How do you face the impermanence of your life and the inevitability of death?

"Being able to embrace the idea of death and being present ... some of the women say it gives them a new lease on life," says Loizzo. "The ancient traditions made a science of trying to understand the death process and make meaning out of it ... This kind of approach of facing reality, even the parts that scare us, has tremendous potential for healing."

Asking these questions can help bolster an acceptance of things that can't be changed or controlled, which Buddhist teachings have long touted as a key to reducing suffering. Now, this ancient doctrine has science on its side: A recent study from Australian researchers showed that during the difficult changes of later life -- moving into residential care and losing independence -- an acceptance of what can't be changed may be a significant predictor of life satisfaction.

vajrastorm

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #1 on: February 21, 2014, 12:11:28 PM »
Happiness can be defined as a state of peace and equanimity. It is experienced from within and should not be dependent on changing temporary external objects.

According to this article, there are 4 essential lessons from Tibetan Buddhism.

Lesson 1 - Get intimate with your mind.
One gets familiar and intimate with the mind through the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Through contemplation and meditation, we are able to transform a turbulent negative mind, with its heightened level of stress and anxiety, into a mind of calm and stability, and positive thoughts and emotions.

Lesson 2 Practice compassion at every moment
Compassion is developed from empathy.Compassion arises from being able to empathize and feel the suffering of others and wanting to do something to relief that suffering. Altruism lies at the heart of true compassion.It leads to positive emotions.

Lesson 3
Connect with others who support your journey
Modern neuroscience has shown that we "wired to be extremely social creatures". We should forge a strong connection with our spiritual community, but always stay open and positive.

Lesson 4
Embrace death - don't fear or deny it.
There has to be a belief in karma and reincarnation to see death and life as equally meaningful.
We should learn, from the start, to let go in the face of difficulties and accept what can't be changed (karma). Hence in later years of difficulty and change - where we may have to move to a nursing home and lose our independence - we will  be able to accept that as what we cannot change.   An acceptance of what can't be changed may be "a significant predictor of satisfaction".
 





Q

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #2 on: February 21, 2014, 08:00:37 PM »
Thank you for sharing. Very insightful article.

It reminds me of a Tibetan Buddhist monk named Matthieu Richards... he's not Tibetan but a monk of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition and was named as the happiest man on earth! Which of course I totally believe, especially when I see all the Dorje Shugden monks that faced so much hardship in life and yet they are living life happily and helping people, it must be Buddhist practice.

Also the previous Panchen Lama and many other Tibetan monks that was kept in prison by the Chinese government, went through torture and yet when released they are happy, forgiving, compassionate... really amazing... any 'normal' person would have been tortured until they've lost their mind

RedLantern

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #3 on: March 02, 2014, 04:12:06 PM »

We need two main things to become happy,according to Tibetan Buddhist Tradition: mindful awareness and loving compassion.We should try to be more consciously aware of our actions.

Unhappiness will persists as long as craving,aversion and delusion persist  in our minds.It takes time to reduce these, and longer to eliminate them.Until then we need to work on developing equanimity so that we're no longer "unhappy about being unhappy".

Big Uncle

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #4 on: March 02, 2014, 05:57:22 PM »
Well, I am naturally Tibetan Buddhist because of my worship of Dorje Shugden. I don't have a Lama at the moment and I do self-study. I have read a number of books and most point to the fact that we are all on this quest for Happiness. It is illusive because we had been finding it in the wrong places. The truth about happiness is that the more we have others as our concern, the more happy we are. Likewise, the more we are concerned for ourselves, the unhappier we become. This is simple but has large implications on a micro and macro level. There are many other teachings that elaborate on this simple basis to happiness.

Ultimately as Shantideva says, if we want not to be hurt and not to feel unhappy, it would be wiser to wear sandals that protect the feet rather than sweep the entire world of pebbles and so forth. I think this is very wise and applicable. There are many teachings on training the mind and they are like putting on sandals unto our minds to protect it from the world's rough terrain.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

cookie

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #5 on: March 03, 2014, 11:45:34 AM »
As we so call "progress" in life we have created so many negative effects to our own lives and lives of other beings . So much so that we have become so desperate to search for happiness; the very thing which is depleting as we "progress". What an irony !
Hence, now we turn to the simple lifestyle and methods used by the Tibetans whom in terms of "progress" in their nation is still at a very primary stage. Thank the Buddha for creating these methods in this precious community. They have now been proven to be very useful to the degenerated era; exactly as predicted by the Buddha himself. May all sentient beings be able to learn these methods of mind awareness and loving kindness to reduce their sufferings in samsara.

Kim Hyun Jae

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2014, 01:01:52 PM »
If you ask most lay people these days "What is happiness?". They would look at you with a blank face. Most would think that fulfilling whatever they wish for now and in future would be labelled as "happiness" just for the moment. If you probe further, and ask them, if they ever thought of "permanent happiness" - you would get a blank face as a response.

As such, majority of the people would not even question their state of happiness, in the first place, unless they encounter a current problem or dissatisfaction they wish to solve and go out looking for a solution to their problem.

Tibetan Buddhism can teach us about the definition of being "happy" and how to find it.

metta girl

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2014, 02:06:40 PM »
People with a sense of spirituality are likely to experience greater happiness and wellbeing. Spirituality through Tibetan Buddhism can provide us with meaning, a sense of vitality (or aliveness) and a sense of connectedness to others and to 'something bigger' beyond our daily lives.... .People who feel their life has meaning are happier and healthier too.

dondrup

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #8 on: March 09, 2014, 02:55:54 PM »
Tibetan Buddhism is one of the best and well-preserved traditions in the history of mankind.

Today in Tibetan Buddhism, we have a few lines of unbroken lineages which can be traced back to Lord Buddha ensuring its authenticity. There are also many living Tibetan Buddhist masters today who can teach us the methods in Tibetan Buddhism. These methods carry the blessings of the lineages and are proven to work.

We are indeed very fortunate to meet Tibetan Buddhism and to apply the methods within to experience the temporary happiness of a human and eventually the perfect happiness of a Buddha.

Klein

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #9 on: May 04, 2014, 08:54:55 PM »
Happiness can be defined as a state of peace and equanimity. It is experienced from within and should not be dependent on changing temporary external objects.

According to this article, there are 4 essential lessons from Tibetan Buddhism.

Lesson 1 - Get intimate with your mind.
One gets familiar and intimate with the mind through the practice of mindfulness and meditation. Through contemplation and meditation, we are able to transform a turbulent negative mind, with its heightened level of stress and anxiety, into a mind of calm and stability, and positive thoughts and emotions.

Lesson 2 Practice compassion at every moment
Compassion is developed from empathy.Compassion arises from being able to empathize and feel the suffering of others and wanting to do something to relief that suffering. Altruism lies at the heart of true compassion.It leads to positive emotions.

Lesson 3
Connect with others who support your journey
Modern neuroscience has shown that we "wired to be extremely social creatures". We should forge a strong connection with our spiritual community, but always stay open and positive.

Lesson 4
Embrace death - don't fear or deny it.
There has to be a belief in karma and reincarnation to see death and life as equally meaningful.
We should learn, from the start, to let go in the face of difficulties and accept what can't be changed (karma). Hence in later years of difficulty and change - where we may have to move to a nursing home and lose our independence - we will  be able to accept that as what we cannot change.   An acceptance of what can't be changed may be "a significant predictor of satisfaction".

Thank you vajrastorm for the summary of the article. It all makes sense. When we engage in processes of understanding the mind and accepting death as being inevitable, we learn to let go more. More realisations of our attachment to the "self" becomes more apparent and how the "self" is a figment of our projection, help us attain a peace.

Consistency is also necessary as we are creatures of habit. So there will always be resistance and doubts arising. With consistent efforts towards the 4 methods prescribed and overcoming our resistance and doubts, we will be able to see results.

Tenzin K

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2014, 09:53:03 AM »
If we broaden our perspective, we look out from our own self-absorption into our immediate environment which is generally pretty easy for most of us.  We have friends and relatives that we don’t mind increasing our space to include and we look at them and we consider them part of our lives. But let’s move out and see all the rest of humankind.  They are all, in the same way as we are, striving to be happy.  And then look out beyond that to the animal realm.  Even though these animals don’t have a forehead, even though these animals cannot conceptualize in the same way that we do, still each one of them in their own way is trying to be happy according to their capacity. The predator is trying to be happy when it chases its prey.  The prey is trying to be happy when it fixes itself or creates for itself a safe environment and develops coping mechanisms with the reality that the predator is always out there.

There are many different ways to view this, but we can see if we really study, that we all have that in common and so we become, in a sense one family with a fundamental genetic code.  Even across species, even across the form and formless realms, we become one family with this particular underlying reality in common. Now if we were to really contemplate this issue in this way, we might come up with a new world view.  Wouldn’t that be wonderful!  We might come up with a new, more universal perspective.  Wouldn’t it be delightful!  We could use that tool as a way to end self-absorption, and to really open our eyes and look at everything around us with a new kind of vision, a new kind of empathy, a new kind of understanding, a new kind of willingness to put oneself in the place of others, a new kind of planetary human, you know, aware of life around itself, a new kind of cosmic perspective, a new understanding as to what life is all about.

Now how does this relate to refuge?  Well, as we are turning our minds towards Dharma,  that means softening them, preparing them, fertilizing them, plowing the field so that the mind is turned toward the path that leads to liberation and renouncing what does not lead to liberation.

Where does the idea of Bodhicitta actually come into play?  Actually it comes into play as both a motivator and as a clarifier.  As a motivator , we understand that part of the process of turning the mind towards Dharma is to truly look at the six realms of cyclic existence and all the conditions and situations of sentient beings.  Having done that, we see that cyclic existence is faulted and that these sentient beings, although they do wish to be happy, have no understanding of the causes of happiness.  That’s the main different between a Dharma practitioner, and the serial killer.  The Dharma practitioner wants to be happy just like the serial killer, but they are engaging in method.  Method means we are looking at cause and effect relationship.  We see the faults.  We look at cause and effect relationships and we are trying to work it out where we produce the causes that allow the desired effect.

The serial killer is also trying to do that.  He perhaps feels some kind of need build up in him and then he goes and tries to satisfy that need.  So in his way, this serial killer is doing the same thing.  He is engaged in trying to create the causes that produce happiness.   The difference is he does not understand.  There is such heavy delusion that there is no understanding of what causes produce happiness, so the serial killer is in a way, like a completely ignorant, completely confused, completely hatred-oriented basket of misconstrued ideas acting in a knee-jerk way to get some kind of result.  He is not able to think it through and has no guidance to think it through.  So the serial killer is yes, engaging in method, but what method?  The serial killer is engaging in the method of hatred, is engaging in the method of destruction, is engaging in the method of harm-doing, and is thinking that it will bring some sort of power or happiness or relief in some way.  And yet what this person doesn’t understand is that the seed and the fruit cannot be unrelated.  You cannot produce happiness from the fruit of hatred, destruction, ignorance and harm doing.  You cannot produce happiness in the same way that a peach seed cannot produce a banana tree.

 

maricisun

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Re: What Tibetan Buddhism Can Teach Us About Happiness
« Reply #11 on: May 11, 2014, 02:01:57 PM »
The most important teaching in Tibetan Buddhism is to practice compassion
Compassion means loving kindness and mindful awareness. These teaching will lead us to our spiritual path which will lead us to find happiness.