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Perfect Happiness - What Makes People Happy?

Updated on March 19, 2013

Happiness or Unhappiness that is the Question

The writer at forty-one on MacQuarie Island.
The writer at forty-one on MacQuarie Island.

Why is there so much disparity at the way we look at life?

William Shakespeare put the commonality we all share in such vivid perspective: "We are all born of woman, we all bleed when cut, we all die, and our bodies moulder in the ground." Then why are we all so different in the way we look at life?

Suffering is caused by the pairs of opposites and our preference

Few people are absolutely content. But there is an enormous range of discontent between us all. Some people seem to be cheerful for the greater part of their lives, others sour, if not downright miserable. Why is this? Why are some people so much happiner than others?

Few people are absolutely content

 Few people are absolutely content.  But there is an enormous range of discontent between us all.   Some people seem to be cheerful for the greater part of their lives, others sour, if not downright miserable.   Why is this?   Why are some people so much happiner than others?

The Buddha's Answer

 Twenty-four hundred years ago Siddartha Gautama, better known as The Buddha, looked very closely at such questions.   He came up with an answer, an answer which has not been surpassed since those days.  Suffering, The Buddha said, is caused by the pairs of opposites and our preferences regarding these.  Suffering is caused by our desire for more, our craving our clinging -and refusing to let go - of what we find enjoyable, and our abhorrence and non-acceptance of what we don't like in our lives.    We long for what we like, we attempt to push away that which we don't like.   Our subjective view of these opposites is what causes our problem of unhappiness.

Perfect Happiness - What Makes People Happy?

And what are these pairs of opposites? There are many of them, but in decreasing level of abstraction we could have: good/bad, pleasure/pain, sweet/bitter/ and rough/smooth. Until we descend to such things as "me as company CEO: good," and "me as its janitor: bad."

It is the degree to which we desire what we feel is "good," and are adverse to what we think is "bad," which is the root cause of all our suffering. If we deeply desire to a point of obsession that we must become the 'Top Dog' in some position of recognition, and we're still not anywhere near that after many years of striving, we'll be suffering enormously. On the other hand, if we are right at the top, say, as a sportsman or woman, there is only one way to go - down. And so our clinging to the top is another cause of suffering.

What makes people happy or unhappy?

Another question the Buddha was asked was: "If suffering is caused by our preferences for one or another of the opposites, how can we overcome such preferences?" A profound question indeed, for the lowliest creature on the evolutionary scale, up to the higher primates, and we humans ourselves, seek pleasure in gratification and the avoidance of pain. It is a fundmental principle of Nature.

To overcome his ignorance and to enable him to find an answer, the Buddha went into deep meditation. Both history and legend tell us that he found the answer meditating under the bodi tree on that fateful night the answers came tumbling in. He became Enlightened. He found perfect happiness. And history and legend say that he went on to spend the rest of his life passing on his hard-won revelation to the rest of the world.

He had found the way. He overcome 'the pairs of opposites' and now knew what makes people happy.

Like many saintly persons who lived before and after him, he had found the way, had trodden the path, and had overcome. His sufferering was foreover gone. But he stressed throughout his teachings (and this is very important) that he was just an ordinary man - same as you and me - and what he had done, anyone can do. It is just a matter of application.

But such 'application' is another story...to be told another time...


Comments

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  • Tonipet profile image

    Tonette Fornillos 6 years ago from The City of Generals

    Making others happy is what makes real happiness. I wish everyone of us can make each and everyone happy. Interesting hub learned so many new thoughts. Thanks Tom!

  • chisom emmanuel profile image

    oji chisom emmanuel 7 years ago from NIGERIA

    i think finding fulfillmentin in every thing we do is an avenue fi happiness. freedom can also count.lol

  • thevoice profile image

    thevoice 8 years ago from carthage ill

    great question hub read I think we all want home family work schooling wife children god rights freedoms in this life thanks

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