Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Love And Happiness


Question:  (Undited)

i have done some brief research on bhudism and consequently have decided to purchase a few books which i hope will give me better insight into bhudism. what i was wondering though was this, i am currently reading a website on happiness. it says self worth is unconditional, that self love is loving yourself no matter your faults, your situation etc. even if u had disabilitating diseases, if u were working in mcdonalds all ur life etc, or unemployed, that self worth and self love is to love yourself no matter what. it says if u place values on external things which contribute to lowering yourself self worth then the self worth is only conditional. for example, if u dont feel yourself worthy of someone elses love, you feel inferior to other people because you aren't as confident in social situations etc. my question is, though i understand that you must seperate your self worth to love yourself unconditionally. i just dont know how to do it, i hope this makes sense and if not i will go over the website again to make this more succint. but hope you can offer me some words of advice

My comment: 
Hi b,
Thank you for asking me.

What is the basis of happiness? In common term, the basis of happiness is the presence of specific factors which make us happy. The most classic example will be having lots of money. Once this condition is present, the person will immediately feel a sense of happiness. After a certain period, this condition of just having money is no longer the main factor for his happiness. He will have to seek new factors to experience new happiness, like having a new house, new cars, and other things. Once these are fulfilled, the law of diminishing returns sets in. These conditions which previously generate lots of happiness are now stale. If no new conditions are satisfied, then the person will no longer experience the happiness again. In short, "happiness" is a "conditioned" experience. Without the prerequisite condition, happiness will not appear. The Buddha warned that all conditioned things are transient, they cannot last forever. Anyone who seeks or chases after happiness will be very disappointed in the end. However, this does not mean that a person should not be happy when conditions are right. The warning is that at any time these happy conditions may change. To an uninitiated person the absence of such happy conditions or the presence of negative conditions will trigger a state of unhappiness. The wise Buddhist approach to life is to be contented with the things we have, be happy when conditions are right, and be careful when conditions are not right. We have to ride through the waves of living conditions, the ups and the downs. In so doing, we live a guarded contented life. Since happiness is a conditioned state of mind, we cannot be happy if sad events occur. To be happy when our loved one dies is madness.

Now coming back to "love". The Buddhist context of "love" is "compassionate" love.
First let me comment on Buddhist compassionate love. The dictionary defines it as "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it". It is love without conditions. Another term is spiritual love or universal love. There is nothing to do with whether you like the person or not. You still can show compassionate love to the person even though you do not like him.

But if we talk about love for oneself, then we have to be very careful with its interpretation. The person cannot love himself and be happy acknowledging that he is ugly, stupid and down trodden. To have this sort of misinterpreted understanding of love and happiness will be very catastrophic for the person's life! He will not be able to make it. The more appropriate approach is to come to terms with the given conditions with guarded acceptance of the present realities confronting the person. With this acceptance of the realities of the present conditions, the person will not feel as bad as before. Then from this realization and acceptance, the person should embark on a mission to improve himself. With this mindset, he will see himself in a new perspective of self-worth and not a failure. Unfortunately, from my experience, Buddhist writers are not as eloquent as the American motivation gurus when describing self-worth and self-improvement. Read any good book by any of these American motivation gurus and you will get the perfect picture. Strangely enough, these people most probably do not know any Buddhist teachings, but what they write are universal truths as taught by the Buddha himself 2500 years ago!!

Hope my comments do not add to the confusion. Please come back if you need further clarification.

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