The following excerpt from The Discourse on Happiness is the Buddha’s answer to the question, ‘What can bring about a peaceful and happy life?’
As a Sangha, we explored what the Sutra means and how we might apply it in our lives. Some felt the Sutra was too much to live up to, like a series of commandments. Others experienced joy at all the types of happiness it lists. We saw that each paragraph ends with the phrase ‘this is the greatest happiness’ and wondered how all these qualities could be ‘the greatest.’ Could it be that the Sutra speaks about a path of practice that brings happiness no matter whether you’re at the beginning, middle, or end?
In Zen, we embrace not knowing. An open mind is more receptive than a mind convinced it knows the ‘truth.’ Our job is to be curious rather than certain, trusting that openness invites ever-deepening revelation.
In this spirit, we agreed to take the Sutra into our lives and use it to inquire into happiness. Each presence and activity we encounter is an opportunity to ask, ‘Is this the greatest happiness?’ How might we write our own Happiness Sutra based upon our experience of living this question?
I invite you to share the results of your happiness inquiry by posting your observations, poems, Sutras, or other inspirations to our Facebook group or by sharing them during our weekly discussions. We learn more deeply as a Sangha than as isolated individuals. Each voice is individually important, but even more vital as part of the Sangha awakening. Please, be a cell in the Sangha body as we wonder together, ‘Is this the greatest happiness?’
Excerpt from The Discourse on Happiness
“Not to be associated with foolish ones, to live in the company of wise people, and to honor those who are worth honoring — this is the greatest happiness.
“To live in a good environment, to have planted good seeds, and to realize that you are on the right path — this is the greatest happiness.
“To have a chance to learn, to be skillful in your profession or craft, and to know how to practice the precepts and loving speech — this is the greatest happiness.
“To be able to support your parents, to cherish your own family, and to have a job that you like — this is the greatest happiness.
“To live correctly, to be generous in giving, to be able to give support to relatives and friends, and to live a life of blameless conduct — this is the greatest happiness.
“To avoid doing bad things, to avoid being caught by alcoholism or drugs, and to be diligent in doing good things — this is the greatest happiness.
“To be humble and polite, to be grateful and content with a simple life, and not to miss the occasion to learn the dharma — this is the greatest happiness.
“To persevere and be open to change, to have regular contact with sincere practitioners, and to participate in dharma discussions — this is the greatest happiness.
“To live diligently and attentively, to perceive the Noble Truths, and to realize Nirvana — this is the greatest happiness.
“To live in the world, with your heart undisturbed by the world, with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace — this is the greatest happiness.
“One who accomplishes this will remain unvanquished wherever they go. Always they will be safe and happy — This is the greatest happiness.”