Tag Archives: buddhism
Our problems are catalysts with which can can reveal our unlimited potential.
Life itself has no arms or legs or a voice. The only way for the universe to communicate to us is by handing us problems at the most inconvenient times.
This is because, as humans, we have unlimited potential. There are so many people who are living their unlimited potential as I write and everyone reveals their unique potential in a different way. My mentor in life, Daiskau Ikeda, has revealed his unlimited potential. He has nearly 300 doctorate degrees focused on peace and humanity. He travels the world to speak with world leaders tirelessly. He has dialogued with Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and many more historic figures. And although I do not strive to accomplish the exact same things as he has, I really strive to also reveal my unlimited potential in the way that is unique to me while using him as a guide for what is possible.
In order to push us to reveal our potential, the universe gives us problems. It is always those areas of life that we need to focus on to reveal an even greater self.
When I learned this a few days ago, my perspective on my sometimes frustrating circumstance here in France changed. It reminded me to not give up, as I have mentioned that I will never do, and it reminded me that I simply have these challenges so that I may become a better person (stronger, more fearless, ready to take on even greater challenges that life will inevitably throw at me, stronger in faith, etc.). It’s kind of a win-win situation.
What is your perceptive on having problems and how do you deal when life hands you too many lemons at once?
This morning I woke up super early to surprise Max (I really like surprising him as you may have noticed!) by picking him up at the train station. He was arriving from Paris this morning where he stayed over night. So I woke up early, surprised him, went back to sleep when I got home, and then woke up again…
ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BED!! (Meaning I was grumpy just in case you have never heard this English expression )
I was complaining to Max and being all grumpy like a grumpy person. Not fun! Not attractive!
But something came to my mind suddenly. I remembered one of my favourite Buddhist passages about relationships and instantly changed my mood. When I first met Max, my friend told me to read this passage, called The Bow And Arrow, and I have kept it close to my heart to reach for whenever I need it. It says,
“It is the power of the bow that determines the flight of the arrow, the might of the dragon that controls the movement of the clouds, and the strength of the wife that guides the actions of her husband. ” -Nichiren Daishonin (WND 656)
(even though we aren’t husband and wife, it completely applies!)
If it my strength that guides the actions of my partner than I have the responsibilty to be stronger and stop complaining and be a cheerful sunflower! That is how world leaders are born!
And with that, I changed my mind.
What is happiness? Ultimately anything we want or desire, we do so because we think it will make us happier.
Think about this for a minute. Do you want to score 100% on that test coming up? Oh, you do!? Why? You may answer because it will help you get into a better university, or get a better job. You may answer that it is because it will make your parents happier.
Dig deeper. So let’s say that you want to get a 100% on that test so that your parents will be happy and proud of you. Why do you want your parents to be happy about the test score? Is it because you want to avoid conflict over a lower grade because they have high expectations? If so, than aren’t you avoiding conflict so you can be happy? I understand that we do everything or anything because we think it will make us happier.
This is great! Happiness is definitely something worth pursuing but the problem we run into is when we confuse the meaning of happiness and end up pursuing something temporary and forever chasing a dream. There is a way to be happy no matter what. And this way is true or “absolute” happiness. Before I explain the meaning of absolute happiness let me tell you about that temporary kind of happiness, also known as “relative” happiness.
Relative Happiness is the “Happy” Felt in Relation to Our Circumstances
A really great example of relative happiness is that amazing feeling you feel right after you accomplished something you hoped you would, or obtained something you had wanted for a while. Maybe you did end up scoring perfect on that test. Woohoo! Now you are happy, right? Right! But do you notice that happiness completely dissipating as the stress sets in when you are studying for that next test?
Most people get caught in the cycle of pursuing this temporary feeling and thinking that the only way to lasting happiness is to continue to do things, obtain things, or accomplish things that cause this really great feeling. It is the same thinking as, “Once I have that (insert your desire here), then I will be happy.” That usually comes and goes and your permanent emotion is still not at “happy”.
You get it, don’t you? Relative happiness is the happiness you feel in relation to your circumstances. It is a great privilege of a human being to be able to feel this feeling! It makes those ups on the roller coaster of life really exciting and totally worth it!
Don’t you wish you could bottle that feeling up and keep it forever? I’m not going to tell you that you can have that exact feeling forever, but you can definitely have something better. Which brings me into the explanation of absolute happiness.
Absolute Happy is the “Happy” Felt Independent of Our Circumstances
Absolute happiness is being happy no matter what your circumstances are. I consider myself to be in this category after years of almost never feeling happy, followed by years of self-discovery. My Buddhist faith is definitely the causing factor to this feeling of absolute happiness but this feeling is available for anyone who wants it (even without a Buddhist practice).
Happiness in Sadness, Anger and Fear
When I feel sad, I have a deep underlying feeling of happiness as if I know that this sad feeling is only temporary and I am so grateful to be able to have a range of emotion and feel sad sometimes. In other words, I LOVE that I feel sad sometimes. I welcome “sad” in with open arms when it is time. I can grow from feeling sad.
Sometimes I am mad. Again, I still have an underlying feeling of happiness when I feel mad because I know that the feeling mad usually means I need to speak up, or stand up for myself, or let the ego down and say sorry to someone I love. Feeling angry has its benefits and therefore I am grateful for this feeling.
The feeling I get stuck on most is fear.I dislike fear because personally I think it is a little painful. I find it painful for my heart to race super fast, to constantly feel like I need to enact a “fight or flight” response. I dislike that the fear prevents me from doing everyday tasks easily or that is causes me to distrust strangers or worry about the future. But, BUT, BUUUUT, because I have fear, I have a reason to become courageous. I have something to overcome. I have the “contrast” I need to know how I don’t want to feel so I can pursue the other side. Fear causes me to feel compassionate and grateful for my circumstances as they are because there are people living the experiences I fear and who are strong! Fear causes me to build my knowledge about airplanes for example, so I won’t be so scared next time I take a flight. Fear causes me to become stronger. After all, if I wasn’t scared why would I have any reason to become more courageous and strong (very noble human qualities I must add).
Feeling Happy Even Through Major Obstacles
You may be thinking that this absolute happiness thing is still but a dream. After all, what about human suffering, hard situation, obstacles and problems?
These very situations are the situations that propel us through life! They are the opportunities to become better human beings!
When I am faced with a challenge, sometimes I mope around for a bit, but eventually I always arrive at the same thing, “I am so grateful for this situation because I am a now stronger, a better human being and ultimately happier because of it!” I always end up at this conclusion. All the sadness, fear, anger, joy, excitement, hunger are the mere colours of the rainbow, all unique and all forming one beautiful structure called happiness.
Sometimes things get seemingly hard for other people or yourself. These are times to keep pushing forward with the attitude that this is in your life to make you even happier.
My mentor in life is a very great man. His name is Daisaku Ikeda and he has done more in his lifetime than most people will do in 60 lifetimes combined. He is 87 years old, an author, president of the Soka Gakkai International (link is at the bottom of my website). He has obtained over 300 honorary doctorate degrees and is a representative of the united nations. He is a peace builder and humanitarian spreading the message that world peace is possible in our lifetime. Daisaku Ikeda has had inspirational conversations with the world’s top thinkers such as Rosa Parks, Nelson Mendela, the first female astronaut to go to the moon, and hundreds of others. He has gone through some of life’s thickest challenges as well. When he was in his thirties he suffered from severe tuberculosis for years in a row. When he was older one of his children passed away. He used this to build his compassion for other human beings and their sufferings. This is a true example of using your obstacles for happiness. And not only the happiness of yourself but also for the happiness of everyone!
I like to use this model day in and day out. I will overcome such and such problem for my happiness and for the happiness of everyone else. What compassion can I draw from this experience? What inspiration can I spread? This is the correct attitude and this is absolute happiness.
How Can You Be Absolutely Happy?
Number one is DON’T STOP CHASING THOSE DESIRES. They are part of the joys of life! You may think, “I want to stop only finding those temporary doses of happiness and search for the larger feeling.” This is not correct. These little desires are what spark us to challenge ourselves and overcome obstacles.
The situation about “the test” that I wrote about above will look like this if one is absolutely happy.
You want to get 100% on your test. Yay! Go for it! You feel a little stressed out from having to study so hard but you appreciate that you have the ability to study while other people in the world don’t have this privilege. You begin to feel proud of all the hard work you are doing. You run into a really hard problem. You don’t give up, knowing that there is a solution to it and that it will be worth it in the end to find it! You take the test. You get 100% Yay! Way to go! You feel overjoyed!
Do you notice that instead of simply feeling stressed out during the process and than elated with the success, this student felt happy the whole time. There were varying emotions going on, but the underlying energy was happiness. That feeling of overjoyed is just another degree of emotion, like stress or sadness. It doesn’t need to be taken so seriously like we are always searching for it. A truly happy person will know that this feeling is always available along with a whole range of wonderful, colourful emotions all ready to shine their light when the moment is right.
The easiest way to start becoming absolutely happy is to practice being grateful for the small things no matter how terrible your situation may be.
Thanks for reading!
Sincerely, Yummy Laura