Apr 8, 2019
Most cultural forces drive us toward thinking that happiness awaits us in the realization of wealth, success, fame and other worldly measures. The Buddha taught the opposite. Buddha taught that the pleasure from things like wealth, fame, and all external sources is actually the experience of “changing suffering”. For example, ice cream is a source of pleasure, but only when it relieves some hunger. When we are overly full, ice cream is a source of pain. Thus the pleasure one feels from the eating ice cream is only changing suffering, or the relief of hunger. If something is a true cause of happiness, it would never be a cause of pain. Similarly, wealth and fame seem to be a source of happiness, but some people find that when they attain these, their worries, fears, and problems increase. This is not a teaching on renouncing money, but a truth that encourages us to seek our happiness from true sources, like creating good karma, cherishing others, and moral discipline. This understanding can also help us relax about where we find ourselves in life--whether or not we have measured up to some conception of success-- for this is not the true meaning of human life. This episode points us in the direction of creating true causes of happiness and peace.
Reasoning is harmful
It ruins their good fortune
And splits open their heads. (72)
Fools will want unwarranted status,
Deference from fellow monks,
Authority in the monasteries,
And homage from good families.
“Let both householders and renunciants
Believe that I did this. Let them obey me in every task!”
Such are the thoughts of a fool
Who cultivates desire and pride. (73–74)
The way to material gain is one thing,
The path to Nirvana another.
Knowing this, a monk who is the Buddha’s disciple
Should not delight in being venerated, But cultivate solitude instead. (75)*
The Dhammapada, by Buddha. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 18.
Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, by Je Tsongkhapa, Volume 2. Pages 52-59. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.