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Mar 4, 2010

Different Kinds of Sukha (Happiness)

The towering Global Pagoda in Mumbai, India, by the sea in the island of Gorai, could be called a practical lighthouse of happiness. It shares the Vipassana path leading to true happiness, calm and purity at the depth of the mind. With happiness and freedom from discontent being a common human pursuit, the popular question arises: what is happiness?

For a serious practitioner of Vipassana, the truth becomes clear that worldly pursuits and indulgence in them offer only fleeting happiness. Discontent again arises almost immediately after. This is because nothing in the world is permanent. Everything is subject to change every moment, decay, death. The objective fact is that there is no guarantee that whatever we hold very dear today will exist tomorrow. So happiness in the worldly sense is only a temporary enjoyment and indulgence of the senses, isn't it?

Developing the equanimity and detachment to deal with impermanence leads to real happiness. But this needs hard work. Vipassana gives the practical training to develop this faculty of awareness of the truth and equanimity to the truth as we experience it, from moment to moment. The benefits are here and now, as well as long-term.

The most compassionate Super Scientist Gotama the Buddha rediscovered this timeless path of Vipassana leading to liberation from change, decay and death. He shared freely this universal, rational Dhamma path with all beings. The practical quintessence of this Dhamma path is the insight meditation of Vipassana. Practicing Vipassana leads to the wisdom of one making the right choice of the superior kind of happiness, and the strength to continue walking on this Dhamma course.

At first, it appears making the right choice of happiness seems very difficult, as for instance, giving up some attachment. The very thought of being away from anything very beloved produces very unpleasant sensations, doesn't it? But once the right choice of greater happiness is made, then Dhamma forces come to one's support and help one to progress on the path - particularly to those whose volition is to serve in Dhamma for the true and greatest happiness of all beings.

With Vipassana, one experiences how every attachment comes with the misery and fear of losing whatever to which one is attached. Bigger the ego, bigger the attachment - which is actually the ego establishing a strong preference for this one over that another. This preference of liking and disliking is actually to one's pleasant or unpleasant sensations within, caused by a part of the mind reacting to external objects. This becomes clear to a Vipassana practitioner. Lesser the attachment and ego, lesser the fears and insecurity. We become happy and free. We rejoice in being able to develop jealousy-free, pure, compassionate, selfless, unconditional goodwill for all beings. This is a great happiness, is it not?

The Great Renunciation. Giving up all imaginable luxuries of the royal palace and his life as a crown prince, Siddhartha Gotama courageously sets forth to conquer all sorrow. Even after attaining the final goal and being liberated from all misery, the Sammasam Buddha did not revert back to a life of ease and comfort. If the fully enlightened Buddha so wished, he could have lived in his father King Suddhodana's palace for the rest of his life, and taught the Dhamma from there. But this would never be a choice of a Buddha. He continued living as a homeless wanderer, and went through many physical hardships. He died homeless, under a tree. A Buddha, and those working for countless lives and aeons to follow his example of serving all beings, will always choose renunciation and homelessness in each life, including in the final life.
(The above painting is part of a series to be displayed in the Information Gallery of the Global Pagoda, Mumbai, India. These intricate paintings accurately depict important events in the Buddha's life. They would comprise the single largest thematic collection of paintings in the world. )

The different and better kinds of happiness is explained in the Dhamma article below:
Different Kinds of Sukha (Happiness)
It is not possible to give a different name to each type of happiness. Even so, while comparing various types of happiness, the Buddha once explained, in detail, which happiness is lesser and which is greater:
1. The happiness of home and the happiness of homelessness (of a monk or a nun) — of the two, the happiness of homelessness is greater.
2. The happiness of sensual pleasures and the happiness of renunciation — of the two, the happiness of renunciation is greater.
3. The happiness of various realms and the happiness beyond all the realms of existence — of the two, the happiness beyond the realms of existence is greater.4. The happiness accompanied by āsavas (intoxicating impulses) and the happiness not accompanied by āsavas — of the two, the happiness not accompanied by āsavas is greater.
5. The happiness of material comforts and the happiness transcending material comforts — of the two, the happiness transcending material comforts is greater.6. The happiness of the ariyas (noble ones) and the happiness of anariyas (of unenlightened ones) — of the two, the happiness of ariyas (noble ones) is greater.
7. The happiness of body (one that comes from physical comfort) and the happiness of mind — of the two, the happiness of mind is greater.8. The happiness accompanied by pīti (pleasurable sensations in the body) and the happiness without pīti (beyond the pleasurable sensations in the body) — of the two, the happiness without pīti is greater.
9. The happiness of indulgence and the happiness of restraint — of the two, the happiness of restraint is greater.
10. The happiness of a scattered mind (of the mind not in jhāna) and the happiness of a concentrated mind (of the mind in jhānic states) — of the two, the happiness of a concentrated mind is greater.11. The happiness with pīti (pleasurable sensations in the body) as its object and the happiness beyond pīti as its object — of the two, the happiness beyond pīti as its object is greater.
12. The happiness dependent on indulgence as its object and the happiness dependent on restraint as its object — of the two, the happiness dependent on restraint as its object is greater.
13. The happiness with form as object and happiness with formlessness as object — of the two, the happiness with formlessness as its object is greater.

(for full article: http://www.vridhamma.org/en2006-09 )
* Directions to reach the Global Vipassana Pagoda, Mumbai, India
* Vipassana meditation courses worldwide, course venues, online application for beginners' 10-day residential Vipassana courses
* Global Pagoda Developmental Projects - Phase Two
* Directions to reach Vipassana International Academy, Dhamma Giri, Igatpuri, India.